Addiction can put a strain on the relationship between a father and his child. When your dad’s a gambling addict, it’s not uncommon for him to ask for large sums of money that he never repays. You may witness your parents’ marriage fall apart because of his addiction. He may be chronically unemployed because he doesn’t show up for work or he’s stolen money to pay for his habit. You might encounter shady people asking where your dad is, and you know it’s because he owes them money.
The trauma of having a parent who struggles with any kind of addiction should not be underestimated. However, there is hope. Your dad can get help for his gambling addiction. If you’re willing and able, your love and encouragement could be the catalyst he needs to finally seek treatment.
Coping With Your Dad’s Gambling Addiction
You have the right to feel safe. If your dad’s gambling addiction is putting an emotional or financial strain on your life, you must take steps to protect yourself. Initially, you should focus your energy on helping your own situation rather than your dad’s.
Here are some practical ways to cope with your father’s gambling addiction:
- Confide in those you trust. Your dad’s addiction may make you feel isolated or alone. Don’t be afraid to open up to trusted friends or family about what’s going on. They can offer advice and be a source of consolation.
- Enlist a financial advisor. A professional can advise you about how to protect your family’s assets and income. It’s important to remove these funds from your father’s control.
- Separate your finances. If you share any financial accounts with your dad, remove his name from savings and banking accounts as well as joint credit cards or loans.
- Do not give your dad money. You probably want to help your father, but financial support isn’t the way to do it. He may say he doesn’t have money for food. He may say he needs funds to pay bills. However, any money you loan your dad will undoubtedly go toward his gambling habit. Don’t give your dad money and do not pay his gambling debts for him.
- Create healthy boundaries. You may need to put emotional or even physical distance between yourself and your dad. If his actions put your safety at risk, these boundaries are essential.
- Seek counseling or a support group. One-on-one counseling and support groups for the loved ones of gambling addicts are safe places where you can get the help you need. These venues allow you to share your heartache with those who understand and receive practical advice about how to move forward.
Steps You Can Take to Help Your Dad With a Gambling Addiction
No matter what you say or do, your father is ultimately the only one who can take steps to end his addiction. Still, try to remember that gambling is the problem, not your dad. Like any substance use disorder, gambling addiction is a disease characterized by compulsive behaviors. He may feel completely powerless to stop.
While you cannot force your dad to quit gambling, there are a few steps you can take that may help him acknowledge that he needs help:
- Quit enabling behaviors. While you may be trying to protect your dad, actions like paying his bills or loaning him money mean he will never feel the full weight of his gambling addiction.
- Communicate your feelings openly and honestly. Tell your dad how his gambling has negatively impacted you. Be candid, but try to avoid blame or hurtful language.
- Tell your dad that you want to help him. Let him know that you will support him when he’s ready to seek treatment.
- Allow your dad to take responsibility for his behaviors. He’ll have to face the consequences of his actions, even if that means dealing with creditors or facing prosecution for illegal actions.
Help for Gambling Addiction Is Available at Gateway Foundation
Gambling addiction is a serious disorder. However, with professional gambling addiction treatment, your father can learn to cope with his compulsive gambling and work towards restoring your family. If you would like more information about our personalized services, please contact us today to speak with a compassionate member of our team.