How Does a Parent’s Gambling Addiction Affect Children?

How Does a Parent’s Gambling Addiction Affect Children?Gambling addiction can devastate a family. Spouses and children can suffer a wide range of problems due to a parent’s inability to control gambling habits.

Is Gambling Addiction Real?

There is some debate over the merit of behavioral addiction such as gambling. Some professionals maintain that addiction requires a substance. However, whereas a substance can cause physical dependence, addiction is a psychological phenomenon that involves obsessive or compulsive acts to feel good. A person can be both addicted to and physically dependent on a substance, but she can also be addicted to behaviors or drugs that do not produce physical dependence, for instance marijuana. Comparing the brain scans of healthy brains and those of addicts supports this conclusion.

Consequences of Gambling Addiction

Addiction changes the biochemistry of the brain, causing people to act obsessively. Whatever the addiction, users become preoccupied with satisfying cravings. They typically focus primarily on the addiction, to the detriment of all other factors. Outsiders may think addicts appear extremely selfish, but the fact is that they cannot control themselves.

All addictions come with direct and indirect consequences. For instance, gambling addicts will suffer direct consequences financially. Gamblers may occasionally win and remember the euphoria of these victories; this is often what keeps them coming back to the table. However, the law of averages is against gamblers, so the more they gamble the more they are bound to lose. After losing a gambling addict will have a hard time quitting, because he thinks a win might be just around the corner. This can keep him gambling even when he lost all savings and goes into debt.

With increasing debt comes increasing hardship on families. It becomes harder to make ends meet and to meet responsibilities, so families may have to go without luxuries like utilities or even necessities like eating. Financial hardship often leads to domestic strife, as the other parent blames the gambler for problems. The addict is likely to feel guilty and seek escape by retreating further into gambling. As with all addictions, it can easily become a self-reinforcing downward spiral. Eventually families may face bankruptcy, eviction, divorce, estrangement from one another or even suicide.

Gambling Addiction Treatment

Addictions are essentially the same, regardless of the drug or behavior of choice. Counseling that treats drug addicts is effective for treating addictions to behaviors such as gambling. Therapy can help gambling addicts resolve any underlying issues that contribute to the addiction and teach healthier ways of responding to stress. If you would like help finding treatment for gambling addiction, or if you have any questions about gambling addiction, treatment and recovery, please call our toll-free helpline now. Counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have and to help you find the treatment you need.