How to help your gambling spouse


Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is an impulse-control condition much like alcoholism or binge-eating disorder.

The families of problem gamblers often suffer the consequences of the addict's behavior, whether they are financial, emotional or social in nature. In order to help a gambling spouse, it's important to know both how to seek help and what changes are necessary for your marriage to survive in recovery and to support a gambling-free lifestyle.

Gamblers Anonymous

Refer your spouse to Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step program designed to help problem gamblers start the recovery process. The program will involve getting a sponsor and attending meetings with other gambling addicts.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

If you have the resources, it's also a good idea to seek out a professional therapist. Most counselors who specialize in addiction can use techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy to help patients change long-standing bad habits. Treatment may involve changing your beliefs about gambling, money or others areas of your life that may perpetuate addictive behavior.

Manage money

A gambling spouse will need to have a controlled environment when it comes to money. Get rid of your partner's credit cards and offer to help manage household finances. The gambler should have a limited amount of cash on hand at all times.

Lifestyle changes

One of the biggest ways you can support a gambling spouse is to change your social or lifestyle habits that revolve around gambling. Avoid casinos, bars or other places where betting happens, and weed out people from your social circle who tend to encourage gambling behavior. Create new habits, hobbies and friendships that support a gambling-free lifestyle.

Help yourself

Gambling addiction is serious, and spouses often find themselves in the role of caretaker or codependent. Make sure you are taking care of yourself, first and foremost. You can't be of assistance to your partner if you aren't emotionally stable and balanced. Achieving this may involve spending more time away from your spouse, considering how you will handle requests for money or planning activities that you can enjoy when your spouse is in therapy or attending meetings.


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