What Are the Signs of Problem Gambling in Parents?

In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to overlook subtle changes in our loved ones’ behavior. Often, we attribute these changes to stress, age, or just the ups and downs of daily living. However, when these changes are signs of a silent struggle with problem gambling, it’s important that we recognize them to get one step closer to the compassionate support they’ll need.

Our goal is to equip you with knowledge and understanding so that if you notice these signs in your parents, you can approach the situation with empathy and open dialogue and seek professional help if necessary. Remember, no one chooses to become a problem gambler, but with awareness and timely intervention, they can choose to seek help and change their path.

Unexplained Financial Losses

One of the most noticeable signs of problem gambling is unexplained financial losses. You might notice your parents struggling to pay bills, borrowing money frequently, or perhaps even selling valuable possessions. They may have difficulty explaining where their money has gone, or the explanations may seem vague or inconsistent. Their spending habits may change dramatically, with less money spent on necessities and more on unknown expenses. This could indicate that funds are going toward problem gambling.

Financial Irregularities

In line with unexplained losses, you might notice other financial irregularities. Perhaps there’s an unusual number of withdrawal slips from the bank, or you may see unrecognizable charges on credit card statements. Your parents may also start to receive calls from debt collectors, or you might find unopened bills hidden away. These are all signs that your parents could be dealing with a gambling problem.

Behavioral Changes/Mood Swings Toward Family, Friends, and Others

Problem gambling can also lead to significant behavioral changes. Your once cheerful and outgoing parents might become withdrawn, anxious, irritable, or depressed. They may seem preoccupied or distant, and their usual interests or hobbies may no longer hold their attention. Relationships with family and friends might suffer as they become more secretive or defensive, especially when questioned about their activities or finances. You may notice more arguments between your parents or that your parents become more hostile toward individuals who bring up that they notice differences. These are all critical signs to note.

Developing Health Problems

Chronic stress from problem gambling can result in various health issues. Trouble sleeping, headaches, stomach problems, or even hypertension could manifest. Additionally, mental health can deteriorate, leading to symptoms of anxiety and depression. These symptoms can manifest even more in older adults. If your parents are suddenly experiencing these health issues without a clear cause, it might be worth considering if problem gambling could be a contributing factor.

Changes in Behavior to Discussions Over Money and Finances

How your parents react to discussions about money can also be a telling sign. They may become overly sensitive or defensive when the topic of finances comes up. You might notice them avoiding these conversations altogether or providing vague, dismissive responses when pressed. This behavioral change could be a sign that they are struggling to cope with financial pressures or simply acknowledge that they may be feeling the stresses associated with problem gambling.

How Parents Can Regain Control Over Their Lives With 800-GAMBLER

Recognizing the signs of problem gambling in parents is only the first step towards helping them navigate this challenging time. If you’ve noticed these signs in your loved ones, approach the situation with empathy and understanding. It’s not about blame or judgment; it’s about offering support and encouraging them to seek help.

800-GAMBLER is here to provide that much-needed help. We offer a wide range of resources designed to provide guidance and support, not just for individuals facing problem gambling but also for their friends and family. From podcasts that offer insights from experts in the field to webinars that provide practical strategies for coping and recovery, we are committed to providing phenomenal aid for those affected by problem gambling.

Give our 24/7 helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER, a call, and don’t look back.


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