Posted by: breathliftlive | 27/05/2011


I’ve received a few emails lately from loved ones of problem gamblers who are trying to work out how best to cope with their situation. These people are amazingly strong and are standing by their loved ones even though it’s one of the hardest, if not the hardest, thing they’ve had to endure.

It’s been mentioned to me a few times now how when the topic of their problem as approached, they lash out or immediately find fault in their loved one. Each time I would bring it up, I remember Tim would look at me like I was crazy, like I actually had a problem and then he would turn the conversation around to something I had done wrong. Every single time it would end up being about me and what I had done wrong, instead of the problem we were trying to address.

It was like if he admitted he had a problem he was admitting he had lost control (which he had), that he had lost, that there was something ‘wrong’ with him, that he was a failure. This thing had become his whole life. It had consumed him. When he wasn’t gambling he was thinking about it and when he wasn’t doing that he was working 24/7 to remember the stories he had told so he could keep them going.  It was a full time job! How do you admit that something that has become your life is wrong? How do you admit that? How do you change that?

I am the first to admit (though not to too many people 🙂 that I don’t like to admit when I’m wrong. Sometimes I get defensive. Now, multiply that by 1000 and that’s maybe a little closer to how they feel. When faced with the fact that they’re in trouble, that changes need to be made, that they have a problem and when they have spent every minute of every day defending themselves and saying they don’t, they will lash out. They will reflect the feelings back on the person saying it. YOU have a problem, not me. What about all those things YOU did. They try and take the focus off themselves. It’s a defence mechanism they use when the truth is beginning to be too uncomfortable and they completely dismiss it, no matter how obvious it is. Being able to deny the problem is what enables them to continue with it and they deny it to avoid the harsh reality of the situation.

Until they are ready to admit they have a problem and truly believe it, the cycle will continue. No matter what happens and no matter how many times they try to blame you, it is not your fault. There is nothing you have done to cause the problem. It’s frustrating and can cause a great deal of heartache but you need to stay strong.

Your loved one needs to come to the realisation that they do have a problem. They need to be made aware of the consequences of their actions, how it affects others around them and what could happen if the problem continues. This doesn’t mean using threats to get your point across, in most cases they can dig their heels in even more. It may get repetitive but you’ll need to show them and tell them the harm it is causing. Try to avoid using ‘you’ statements like ‘you have done this’, ‘you shouldn’t do this’ as it can feel like an attack and will lead them to become defensive and they will feel judged. Start by letting them know you care for them, you love them, you want to help and because their behaviour is affecting you, you feel you need to talk to them about this. Ask what they think about it. Asking for their input and encouraging them to talk about it can show that you really do care what they think and you’re listening to them. If the discussion begins to go off track or gets heated, tell them you understand it’s frustrating and that you’re not blaming or judging and that when everyone is calmer you’ll try again.

Below are some links to websites that offer great tips on how to help yourself and your loved ones.

Gambling Help Online:

Gambling Help NSW:

Gambling Help VIC:

Gambling Help Servies:

Problem Gambling SA:

The Salvation Army:

Reach Out:



  1. […] and they will feel judged. Start by letting them know you care for them, you love them, you want to Help and because their behaviour is affecting you, you feel you need to talk to them about this. Ask […]

    • Thank you for your comments, they are greatly appreciated.


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