Support for Partners and Families Experiencing Gambling Harm

19 Sep 2022

Gambling harm can have serious consequences, not just for the person gambling, but also for the people in their life.

Research shows that on average, one person’s gambling has a ripple effect impacting six people around them. This might include intimate partners, children, extended family, friends, colleagues, and the community.

Families might experience problems seemingly unrelated to gambling, e.g. financial or communication issues, before they become aware that gambling may be the cause.

It’s common for those impacted by someone else’s gambling to experience feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, and shame, as there is still a lot of stigma around gambling.

They often focus a lot of their energy on trying to change the behaviour of the person gambling. This can mean they lose focus on their own self-care.

If you’re impacted by someone else’s gambling – whether it’s your partner, your parent, your sibling, or your friend – we hope these tips help you look after yourself.


Maintain other relationships and hobbies

Spending time with others can help get your mind off things and prevent you from becoming preoccupied by someone else’s gambling. Opening up about your concerns isn’t necessary if you don’t want to; simply socialising can help relieve stress.

Try to keep your relationships and routine as normal as possible by staying in touch with your friends and family and engaging in the hobbies and interests you enjoy.


Protect yourself financially

It’s normal to experience stress around finances when you share your money with someone who is struggling with unsafe gambling.

Some ways to protect yourself financially might include having separate bank accounts and removing your name from joint accounts so you don’t inherent any potential debt.

You might also like to keep records of all finances including assets, income, expenses, contributions, and gifts.

Seeking advice from a financial counsellor can help gain clarity and support in managing debt.


Take time for yourself

Experiencing the impact of someone else’s gambling can be exhausting. It can take a toll on your mental health and wellbeing and potentially lead to anxiety and depression. It can even impact you physically, changing your sleep and appetite.

That’s why it’s so important to prioritise self-care. You might do this by meditating, journalling, spending time in nature, listening to relaxing music, or simply sitting with a good book.

Don’t underestimate the power of quiet time to recharge and recentre in tough times.


Look after your body

Looking after your physical health can also significantly benefit your mental health.

Try eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise (even if it’s just a gentle walk around the block), and avoiding drugs and alcohol.


Raise the issue (if safe)

Loved ones can play an important role in assisting gamblers to consider their behaviour and seek help.

If you’re worried about your friend or family member’s gambling, talking to them about your concerns can be a helpful approach. We suggest starting the conversation in a private place when you’re both feeling calm and relaxed.

It’s important to approach the topic with understanding and without judgement. Let them know you care about them and use “I” statements, such as “I’m worried about how much you’ve been gambling” or “I think your gambling has been impacting our relationship”.


Confide in a trusted loved one

Talking to a friend or family member you trust can help relieve some stress and lighten the load. It can also help you break the problem down into smaller parts, so it feels less overwhelming.

It’s not always easy, but leaning on your support network can make a world of difference when you’re struggling with gambling harm.


Seek help for yourself

If you need some extra support, or want to confide in someone objective, our experienced counsellors can provide advice. We’re here to help anyone impacted by gambling harm.

You can call the 24/7 gambling helpline on 1800 858 858 to chat or make a face-to-face appointment. Or you can learn more about our gambling support services here.

Kids Helpline offers 24/7 support for children and young people on 1800 55 1800.

Contact us

If gambling is impacting your life or a loved one's life, it's okay to reach out for help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the 24/7 Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858

Face-to-face counselling locations