The effects of problem gambling on family members are immense. Spouses and families are innocent victims who are mersed in the emotional turmoil that problem gambling presents. Seemingly out of nowhere, spouses and families are stunned by lies, deceit, overwhelming debt, abandonment, and guilt.Spouses present symptoms that are traumatic in nature and can prevent both them and the problem gambler from recovering. These symptoms need immediate attention but are largely not recognized or treated.
Problem gamblers are an interesting phenomena. Spouses, loved ones, and even therapists have a hard time understanding why a problem gambler behaves the way they do. They pursue the high, the win, an excitement rarely, if ever paralleled. In pursuit they arrive in complete self- absorption, seemingly unaware of the widespread impact of their actions till the rush is over. They gamble to reach the high. They gambler to escape emotional pain for hours, for days till the money runs out. They quickly relish in the winnings, investing nearly all of it back either immediately or slowly over the next days and weeks. They slowly destroy their lives. They get caught in the cycle. They may have started innocently 20 years ago engaged in a friendly poker game that they rapidly learned strategy to win. They may have started last year on an innocent social evening to the casino, where they fell in love with the atmosphere, the glamour, the escape. They are now however in desperate times in their life where they are consumed with thoughts of gambling as a way to cope with their pain and their misfortunate financial situation. Their primary focus on escape and correcting their financial mistakes is unhealthy and unbalanced. They appear calm on the surface but in silent panic on the inside, quietly contemplating their next gambling venture as a way to make ends meet.