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Problem Gambling: A Guide for Families

Posted on 28 May, 2017 at 9:05

Since you are reading this you are probably already worried that gambling is harming your family.

Trust your feelings. Families often know something is wrong—but not what is wrong.

People with gambling problems may cover up or lie when you ask where they have been, or where money has gone. This makes problem gambling hard to identify.

Here are some common signs of gambling problems. The more clues you see, the more likely that gambling is a problem.

Money clues

•Money is missing from the house or from bank accounts.

•Your family member is secretive and bad-tempered about money. He or she hides bank and credit card statements.

•The person borrows money through credit cards, through bank loans or from family and friends.

•Bills are piling up, payments are missed and creditors are calling.

•Insurance plans are cashed in, or payments are not made.

•Valuables disappear and reappear.

•Your family member takes on extra jobs,but you don’t see any extra money.

•The person is always short of money.

•The person juggles money to gamble or pay debts.

Emotional clues 

•Withdraws from family and friends

•Seems anxious or far away, or has difficulty paying attention.

•Has mood swings and sudden outbursts of anger

•Sometimes feels good about himself or herself (when the person is winning)

•Complains of boredom or restlessness •is depressed and/or suicidal.

Time clues

Your family member:

•is often late for work or school

•is gone for long, unexplained periods.

Changes in behaviour

Your family member:

•stops doing things he or she used to enjoy

•changes patterns of sleep, eating or sex

•Doesn’t do as he or she says, or makes excuses

•Doesn’t take care of himself or herself, orignores work, school or family tasks

•Uses alcohol or other drugs more often

•Doesn’t take proper care of the children

•Misses family events

•Thinks and talks about gambling all the time

•Changes friends (particularly with teens)

•Has more health or stress problems (e.g., headaches, stomach and bowel problems)

•Lies about gambling

•Doesn’t want to spend money on anything except gambling

•Cheats or steals for money to gamble or pay debts

•Has money conflicts with other people

•Has legal problems over gambling.

There is Help if you think a friend or family member has a gambling problem. Over the next few weeks we will look at the help available.



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