Gambling becomes so important to problem gamblers that it dominates their lives. Problem gambling can have very serious impacts for them and the people around them, affecting their finances, family lives, and health.
Find out about the possible effects of problem gambling:
Impacts of problem gambling on gamblers themselves
While their behaviour can affect the people around them, problem gamblers are hurting themselves the most. Their gambling addiction can cause the following negative impacts:
Mental health problems
Problem gamblers may experience feelings of depression, anxiety, guilt, anger, loneliness, isolation, disappointment, reduced self-worth, loss of control, or suicidal thoughts.
Physical health problems
Problem gamblers may experience various physical complaints, including insomnia, stomach problems, headaches, neck and back pain, and other stress-related health conditions.
Tobacco, alcohol, and drug abuse may increase as gambling increases.
Problem gamblers often adopt problem behaviours, such as lying, manipulating, verbal and emotional abuse, physical violence, and withdrawal from social contact.
Problem gamblers often struggle with loss of income, increased debt (through credit cards, credit lines, or other loans), and an inability to pay bills.
Problem gamblers sometimes do things that are against their personal values, like committing an illegal act (theft, fraud, forgery, etc.).
School and work problems
These problems result in absenteeism, reduced productivity, and missed opportunities at work.
Impacts of problem gambling for spouses and other family members
Living with or being around someone with a gambling problem is very trying. Although friends and family love the person, they often feel that the situation is more than they can handle. Problem gambling can have the following impacts on spouses and other family members:
A huge financial burden is often put on family members, sometimes leading to ongoing debt and property loss.
Problem gamblers may manipulate their loved ones for gambling money.
Family members find themselves covering up or making excuses for the gambler. They invent all sorts of pretexts to explain the gambler’s behaviour.
Mental and emotional health problems
Family members may feel anxiety, depression, sadness, anger, resentment, embarrassment, exhaustion or self-doubt.
Physical health problems
Family members may experience certain physical problems, such as insomnia, ulcers, digestive problems, headaches, neck and back pain, and other stress-related health conditions.
The family may feel helpless, insecure or even as though they are responsible for the gambling problem.
Sometimes children end up taking care of parents who gamble, while in other cases, parents become overprotective of their children who gamble. Or the gambler’s partner may be performing all of the household tasks that were previously shared. There may also be a lack of sexual and emotional intimacy between partners.
Verbal and physical abuse
The gambler becomes violent or uses an abusive tone or words, which can lead to arguments, strained relationships, alienation, separation, divorce, loneliness, and isolation.
Sometimes, family members are so focused on the person with a gambling problem, they may neglect themselves and their own needs.
Negative impacts on friends and coworkers
Problem gambling’s negative impacts can even affect friends and colleagues:
Problem gamblers may manipulate their friends and coworkers into lending them gambling money.
They may find themselves covering up and making excuses for the gambler’s behaviour.
The gambler may use an abusive tone or words, which can lead to arguments and strained relationships.
They may lend money and not get paid back.
Friends and coworkers may ignore changes in the gambler’s behaviour or attitude to avoid getting involved.