Four Truths About Gambling’s Impact on Your Family

When gambling takes the driver’s seat in your life, it’s easy to believe the only person impacted is you. Because if you place a bad bet, you’re the only one who loses, right? Slot machines, lottery tickets, sports betting—they’re all individual activities. You decide when and where you’ll play, and you get all the wins (and losses).

But as you begin to feel the harm your gambling is causing you, the more you realize how wide the impact radius around you actually is. Your bets no longer just involve you. Every time you gamble with rent or grocery money, your friends and family experience harm, too.

Truth #1. You're not you when you gamble.

As gambling begins to assume a priority in your life, your values and standards change along with your behavior. When gambling becomes a priority, your family is often the first to notice because you no longer seem yourself.

Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Program’s certified problem gambling professionals work with hundreds of people like you every year, helping them to change their gambling because their marriage or family is on the line. Families can inspire you to change your gambling and to remember why you wanted to change it.

Truth #2. It’s not just about you.

Here is a short list of some of the common things family members say to our professionals to seek help for a loved one:

  • “I’m trying to find help for my son who has asked for help for his gambling problem.”

  • “I’m calling about my husband’s gambling problem.”

  • “I’m calling for my stepdad.”

  • “My mom’s gambling is out of control. I don’t even know who she is anymore.”

None of your relationships are immune from the negative effects of problem gambling. What first appeared to be a private and individual activity, the consequences of which only you felt the ill effects, problem gambling ultimately fractures your relationship with everyone around you. The sooner you take that first step to change, the sooner you’ll feel hopeful that a return to your values and standards is near.

Truth #3. Big signs of progress start after you decide to change.

Three big signs of progress happen after you accept help.

  • The biggest one is when gamblers actively involve your family in your progress. When clients are excited to share their goals and changes with their loved ones or willingly ask their partner or family for accountability, it shows major progress towards a gambling change that will stick.

  • Another positive sign of improvement is when individuals report that their priorities finally represent their values and their standards. Gambling can become a big part of your life, especially when your mind is constantly on the next win (or where you’ll get money to gamble). But when you start to break free and take back control over your life, you have the space to give back to your family, their needs, and the bigger picture.

  • Clients report a better use of their time, using it to enjoy all the special moments and memories with loved ones they missed out on—sometime for years—when they were gambling. For many, this return to activities they used to enjoy with family and friends is one of the most fulfilling aspects of changing their gambling.

Truth #4. Working with a problem gambling pro can produce real, lasting change.

93% of NPGAP clients reported reducing their gambling after they started getting help from a trained professional. Not only is that a huge win for them, but 74% of them also reported enjoying better family relationships today than they had when they were gambling.

The impact on families is just as significant:

  • 70% of family members report greater financial health as a result of counseling

  • 76% have less emotional distress

  • 96% feel that getting help met their needs

It takes a lot of courage to decide to change your gambling. But actual Nebraskans report that the benefits are more than worth the work. Better relationships, healthier family members, and stronger finances all start with one decision to make the first move.

Your first move is to call the free, confidential helpline at 1-833-BETOVER (238-6837) or text 402-806-7344. Justin Antons, a trained professional in problem gambling will answer your call in person. The two of you can take it from there.

Our mission here at the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program is to provide the counseling, resources, and support individuals and their families need to counter the negative effects of gambling. When gambling becomes a problem in your life, call or text the numbers above to take the first step towards lasting change.

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