My Dad Has a Gambling Addiction: How to Help

Jun 4, 2024

Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual. It affects their entire family. It can be hard to see your father suffer from a gambling addiction. It makes you feel helpless. Your parents’ marriage might crumble because of it.  

Your dad could lose his job. He might demand money or steal it to repay his habit. Your friends and family might even ask you about your father’s whereabouts, especially if he skips family gatherings or special occasions. Others might ask where he is because he owes them money. 

It’s traumatic to have a parent with a gambling addiction. Thankfully, there is help. You can get your dad the help he needs for his problem gambling. 

As long as you’re loving and supportive, it could provide him the motivation he needs to seek treatment. This guide will explain the signs you should look out for and how you can help your dad. 

What is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling refers to the compulsion to gamble despite the negative fallout. These types of gamblers can develop a problem without it becoming a problem. 

It manifests into a full-blown gambling addiction when it leads to financial loss, destroyed relationships, and poor emotional and mental well-being. Gambling addiction happens when an individual is unable to control their impulse to gamble despite the problems it creates. 

All gambling addicts are problem gamblers. However, not all problem gamblers are gambling addicts. 

Older Men and Gambling Statistics 

According to Responsible Gambling, men are more likely to develop a gambling addiction compared to women. In addition, older adults are at greater risk of problem gambling. They might also exhibit other mental health problems, such as cognitive decline, dementia, and memory problems. 

Older adults with such problems are more likely to gamble due to impulsivity and impairment issues. They could also develop a problem when gambling in a safe space like a bingo hall. This makes it harder for them to realize they have a problem. 

Also, problem gamblers tend to hide their habits and gamble alone. This same research found that middle-aged adults are twice as likely to gamble alone as their younger counterparts. This could cause them to withdraw from friends and family. Dangers involved with older adult gambling include:

  • Accessibility to gambling locations and casinos

  • Lack of education on gambling addiction

  • Hiding problem gambling due to stigma or shame 

  • Loss of retirement, Social Security, 401k, and life savings

  • Unwilling to receive help 

A study from Magellan Health found that one out of five adults with problem gambling have considered suicide. Older adults can learn about gambling addiction and seek help if they’re willing. It’s also important for their kids and loved ones to look out for the warning signs of gambling addiction.  

Signs of a Problem

Dads who gamble are willing to risk something of important value to get something of greater value. This behavioral addiction stimulates the brain’s reward, similar to drugs and alcohol. 

If your father has a gambling addiction, he might blow through his savings and take out loans. Some cover their finances, so they won’t be found out. 

Gambling addiction is a serious problem that can ruin lives. The most common signs of a gambling addiction include the following:

  • Chases losses to get back lost money 

  • He has difficulty controlling his gambling habits

  • Feeling irritable and restless when he cuts back or quits gambling 

  • Loses personal relationships, work responsibilities, or other opportunities due to gambling

  • Lies to family and friends about time and money spent on gambling

  • Needs to increase amounts of money to get desired thrill 

  • Preoccupied with gambling, including strategies and the need to get more money

  • Turns to fraud or theft to acquire more money for gambling 

Some gambling addicts may go through periods where they cut back from gambling or stop altogether. However, the remission period doesn’t last without treatment. Has your dad’s gambling concerned you? If so, you can help him get the treatment he needs. 

Helping Your Dad With a Gambling Addiction

There is no cure for gambling addiction. If your dad qualifies for the risk factors for gambling addiction, he should quit as soon as possible. He should also avoid people and places who encourage his addiction.

Getting treatment as soon as possible can prevent it from becoming a major problem. Keep in mind that you can’t force your dad to quit gambling. But there are some ways you can help him get the help he needs:

  • Communicate your concerns. Explain how his addiction made a negative impact on you and your family. This isn’t a time to blame or shame him. Instead, be kind and gentle. Even if you feel emotional, you should avoid using abusive language.

  • Express a desire to help him. Let him know that you support him. Become his cheerleader. Be there for him on the day he’s willing to seek treatment and show up afterward.

  • Allow him to take responsibility. He might’ve hit rock bottom at this point. That means he’ll have to accept the consequences of his actions. This could mean he could face jail time or debt collectors. 

Gambling addiction is a serious mental health disorder. With professional gambling addiction treatment, your father can work on his problem gambling and repair your broken family. 

The best thing about this treatment is that it can be done in your home with a licensed therapist. If you want to learn more about our services, book an appointment with one of our professionals on the Birches Health today.

Resources:

What is Problem Gambling?

Compulsive gambling - Symptoms & causes - Mayo Clinic

Addictive Gambling vs. Professional and Social Gambling

Who’s at Risk for Problem Gambling?

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