With the variety of ways to gamble has come an increase in compulsive and destructive forms of the pastime. Research from the late 1990s suggests that there were about 125 million people who gambled within the previous year, and that about 7.5 million of them have experienced a serious problem gambling. However, because of the recent growth in gambling over the Internet, the number of problem gamblers likely has grown a lot over the past 10 years. And researchers estimate that nearly 8 million American teens struggle with gambling problems. 3 Compulsive gambling may have destructive and long-lasting financial effects. Moreover, the harm caused to marriage and family relationships from a gambling problem can be as stressful and serious as the financial consequences.
Spouses and children don’t just suffer the material deprivation that accompanies compulsive gambling; the rates of divorce, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect are much higher in families where one or both adults have a gambling addiction.
The divorce rate among families in the grip of compulsive gambling is high. The tension between spouses is palpable. As the gambler loses more and more, feelings of fear and shame increase. He becomes angry to cover up his fear and shame. He becomes withdrawn, elusive and terse. He may experience mood swings – elation when he wins, sullenness when he loses. The spouse, frustrated beyond bearing and also fearful, is constantly confronting the gambler about the pile of unpaid bills, the calls from creditors, about his lying and covering up.
Few gamblers see that gambling contributes to the problems they face. The constant inner tension that a compulsive gambler lives with is crushing. Many gamblers drink in an effort to reduce this tension. Many “blow up” regularly to relieve the pressure, like a pressure cooker left on the stove too long.
Sometimes the rage leads to verbal abuse: name calling, harsh criticism, swearing and out-of-control yelling. All the while the gambler is blaming the spouse for the way one is treating the other. You don’t know what you’ve done, but after a while you begin to believe the gambler. Maybe he’s right and you’re wrong. You begin to doubt your perception, thoughts and feelings. The abused spouse learns that once the storm has passed, the gambler is always very sorry, and promises not to do it again. They learn that a few “normal” days will follow until the next time. And there’s always a next time.
Families need help if they want to change. The spouse will need many types of support including financial, emotional, psychological and spiritual. The road back to health isn’t easy, but staying isn’t easy either. It will take time for the wounds created and compounded by compulsive gambling to heal.
Serene Retreat is one of the leading Addiction and Mental Health Treatment provider based in Malaysia with its branches locally and abroad which is working for the betterment of the people and working on their treatment processes with all the SOPs in practice and continue to bring healthy positive changes in their lifestyles. For more information about our treatment programs you can reach us via Call/Whatsapp +60 14-687 2268 or visit our website www.sereneretreat.com.my.