Looking out for you
To be able to support someone you care about, you have to take care of yourself too. If someone’s gambling is affecting you in any way, there’s help and support available for you.
How are you feeling?
If you’re worried about someone’s gambling, you might be experiencing other difficult emotions. For example, you might be feeling angry, hurt or betrayed if they’ve lied to you or tried to hide their gambling from you. It might feel like it’s wrong to have these thoughts, but it is completely normal, so try not to give yourself a hard time about it.
However you’re feeling, it’s important to not blame yourself or the other person. Gambling is an addictive behaviour, and gambling disorder is a recognised medical issue that can develop because of a number of reasons. You can find out more about gambling behaviour here. There are many ways you can help someone who gambles, but remember, it’s not your job to fix it. There are many support services available to help a gambler, and if you feel like you’re struggling, there’s help and support for you too.
You don’t have to be alone with your emotions. Make sure you talk to someone who you trust about what you’re going through, such as a close friend or family member. Getting things off your chest can make a big difference, and other people may help you to see things from a different perspective. If you’re struggling with your mental health, make sure you book an appointment with your GP. They’ll be able to help you find support and treatment that’s right for you.
You can contact the National Gambling Support Network here.
Looking after yourself
It’s normal for people to put their own needs to the side when trying to help someone else, but if you neglect your needs, you won’t be in the right state of mind to help a gambler anyway. Self care is super important, as it will help you to cope better in difficult circumstances.
Here are some activities you could try:
Practice being present - It’s easy for our minds to wonder, especially when we’re worried about someone else. Practicing mindfulness meditation can help you stay in the present moment, helping you to manage what’s on your mind in a way that doesn’t overwhelm.
Relax - Be kind to yourself and make some time for you. You could read a book, treat yourself to a massage, or run a hot bath and forget about everything else just for a moment.
Healthy body, healthy mind - Difficult emotions can make it easy for us to reach for the kitchen cupboard, but sugary foods, fatty snacks or alcohol won’t help you feel any better in the long run. Try filling your body with foods that you know are good for you – they’ll make you feel good too.
Get moving - Exercise is good for the body and good for the brain. If you’re not into sport, you could try running, cycling or joining an exercise class. Even a short work a day can make a big difference to your wellbeing.
You might not always be able to help another person, but there are always things you can do to help yourself.
Think about what behaviour you’re willing to accept from the person who gambles and what behaviour you find unacceptable. It’s up to you to choose how involved you’re willing to get. Make sure you establish healthy boundaries with the person who gambles. If you’re thinking about talking to someone about their gambling, you can find helpful advice here.
Keeping your money safe
Gambling addiction can make even the most trusting person act out of character. Although some of the below advice may feel extreme, it’s best to be safe:
- Take control of finances for the immediate future. Read everything before signing, and make sure you don’t sign anything you don’t understand, or pay for anything you’re not prepared to pay for.
- Limit access to cash for the person who gambles, and keep your credit cards, debit cards and pin codes in a safe place too.
- Keep your passwords private and protect your joint accounts. If you have children with a spouse or partner who is struggling with gambling, make sure the children’s savings accounts are also protected.
- Keep an eye on the post to make sure that the person you know who gambles doesn’t apply for loans or credit cards.
- Organise direct debits, bills, mortgages and other regular payments.
- Create a realistic budget and keep good records of all financial transactions.
- Ask for professional help. There are many support services available.