Q&A: Wondering if he’s a compulsive gambler

Question:

My husband has been participating in a weekly poker night with his friends. Lately, I’ve become concerned that he’s turning into a compulsive gambler. He says I’m worried about nothing. How can I be sure?

Answer: It sounds trite, but your husband may be in denial. Dr. Robert Custer, a trailblazer in the field of gambling addiction treatment, says that denial “means refusing to acknowledge something to oneself, getting oneself to actually believe that there is no danger at all.” It’s a common mindset among those who struggle with gambling addiction.

Unfortunately, denial can affect the addict’s spouse and family, too. They may subconsciously use it as a technique for explaining away, minimising, or rationalising destructive behaviour.

This being the case, take an honest look at yourself first. You say you’re worried, but is it possible you’ve been ignoring the obvious for a while now? A gambler’s spouse can sometimes remain in a state of denial for years until some dramatic incident suddenly jerks her back to reality.

If, upon reflection, you’re convinced that your husband’s gambling is compulsive, sit down with him and confront the issue head-on. Has he placed any limits on his gambling activity, either in terms of money wagered or time invested? Depending on the answers to those questions, insist that he consider the possibility that he has a serious problem. Suggest that he seek professional assistance. If he’s unwilling to listen, enlist the help of an objective third party—a relative or a male friend who agrees with your assessment.

Please do not hesitate to call our Family Support Services at 03-3310 0792 or write to support@family.org.my for a referral to qualified help.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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