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Why Can’t They Just Stop?

27th January 2017

Overcoming a gambling problem can be hard for partners, family and friends too. Catherine looks at how relationships can suffer because of a gambling problem, and how you can begin to mend those bridges.

Very often the first words we hear from a caller or counselling client who is affected by someone else’s gambling are along the lines of ‘Why can’t they just stop?’ or ‘How can I make them stop?’

The first question is complex, the latter is a little simpler. You can’t.

Someone struggling with a compulsion to gamble will need to reach their own tipping point, find their own motivation and beat their own demons before they can get on the road to recovery.

Your actions may make the journey a bit smoother, but each individual is responsible for their own choices.

In the meantime, where does that leave you? Your emotions are going through the wringer as well as theirs. You are probably see-sawing between resentment and anger on one side, and heart-wrenching sadness on the other because you can see how awful they feel too. There might be a healthy dose of fear for your future in the mix too, which only helps to make everything seem starker.

Know that there is help on hand, for you and for them.

Our HelpLine Advisers can listen to what’s going on for you and offer practical tips and advice on how to move forward, as well as helping you find a local counsellor who can support you to understand the situation better and look after your own wellbeing.

It’s natural that we want to help those close to us if they are struggling, but the weight of broken promises and potentially financial crisis can feel unbearable. Sometimes you may even start to wonder if it’s somehow your fault that your loved one ended up in this position. Our counsellors can help you get a better perspective of the situation and figure out for yourself where a relationship may be repaired.

If you find that you feel overwhelmed or are losing hope, it is important to seek professional help. Share your concerns with your GP, a relationship counsellor or with a GamCare counsellor.


I suspect they’ve got a gambling problem but I haven’t asked them about it. How can I?

If you have yet to raise the subject with your loved one, try not to make assumptions about why they gamble, just discuss what you have observed.

Take time to think about what you want to say. Encourage the person to see the consequences of their behaviours and its effect on you.

It might help to write your feelings down, or to speak to an Adviser on the National Gambling HelpLine.

For more information have a read through our support leaflet.