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Self-care for friends and family of problem gamblers

Published: June 29, 2020

When a family member or friend has a gambling problem, the goal is typically to get your loved one on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. But in order to do that, you have to take care of your mental health, as well as take steps to ensure your security.

Find support services and educational resources.

Many people have experienced or are going through a similar struggle. Consider joining a support group for family and friends of problem gamblers. GAM-ANON offers support groups and resources for those impacted by a loved one’s problem gambling. Private, one-on-one counseling sessions for family members of problem gamblers are free and can also help, offering positive coping strategies. For access to services, use the Ohio Problem Gambling Online Resource Directory. In addition, learning more about problem gambling can help you understand what your loved one is going through and how you can help.

Reach out to trusted family and friends.

Talking with those who’ll offer support with minimal judgement can help give you strength, encouragement, and comfort throughout the recovery journey. If you’ve recently discovered your loved one has a gambling problem, consulting with family and friends can help reduce initial anxieties and bring clarity and planning to your situation.

Assess and secure your finances.

If your loved one has access to your money, review your banking accounts to determine what your loved one has spent and check all credit cards to identify debt incurred. You may want to consider locking your credit cards to protect your own credit or opening a new credit card or bank account in your name only. While this may seem severe and secretive, it’s important to protect yourself and your family. Discuss these measures with your loved one if you feel you can.

Go easy on yourself and be understanding with your loved one.

You may feel a range of emotions—from guilt to anger to sadness—throughout the recovery process. But remember that problem gambling is a disorder. It’s not your fault or theirs. Recognize that slip-ups and relapses can happen, no matter how far into recovery your loved one is.

For more information on problem gambling, visit

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