How to handle a loved one’s gambling relapse

When a loved one with a gambling problem has relapsed, you may be feeling angry, betrayed or hopeless.

It is important to understand that gambling relapse is not uncommon. When someone you love has a problem with gambling and has quit, their journey can include setbacks. Not everyone who quits gambling relapses, but many do. A person with a gambling problem may relapse repeatedly. A relapse causes stress for the person and their loved ones, but relapse does not mean that recovery is not possible.

You may be asking yourself: “What do I do?” The most important thing to do when a loved one relapses is to get support. Tell your loved one that you will continue to support their recovery and get support for yourself through friends, peer support groups, and counseling.

Communicate clearly and firmly with the person who has relapsed

Treat the relapse as serious, and let the gambler know how their behavior is affecting you and the family. Avoid accusations, yelling, or threats. Although you may, understandably, have very strong feelings, calm communication is most effective. You may benefit from counseling at this stage, as a counselor will listen without judgment to your feelings. A counselor can help you identify what you are experiencing and communicate it firmly with the person in your life.

Support them to re-engage with their recovery

Let the person know you will continue to support them on this difficult journey. Explain that people with gambling problems do recover, even after relapse. Tell your loved one you will support them to get counseling or to re-engage in recovery meetings or treatment.

It may also help to ask them what you can do to help them get back into recovery. Your support is important, but remember: only the person with a gambling problem can fix his or her life.

Protect yourself and your family finances

If a family member has relapsed, get help to minimize the impact and restrict access to family funds. You have the right to protect your family from the financial fallout of a relapse. Seek advice from a credit counselor, financial advisor, or counselor about how to protect your family’s assets, cash, and debts.

Get support for yourself

Family members of someone who gambles problematically often stop doing the activities they enjoy. Although this may feel counter-intuitive, it is important to focus on your own healing and wellness. Adopting positive habits can reduce your stress and increase physical and emotional wellness. Some things which can help are:

  • Eat healthy meals at regular times.
  • Ensure you get enough sleep at regular times.
  • Take walks or do exercise you enjoy, such as yoga.
  • Engage in hobbies you enjoy such as art or listening to music.
  • Avoid drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with stress.
  • Talk to your doctor about physical health.
  • Make dates with friends and family to have fun.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your family life.
  • Meditate or spend time in nature.
  • Seek support from a spiritual leader.

Seek help from a counselor

Counseling is an important way to get the support you need. A counselor can help you understand relapse and will work with you to manage feelings of anger, stress, resentment or fear. Counselors can also help you understand the disease of addiction, the stages of change that occur in people who have addictions and how you can best support yourself and the person who has relapsed.

Learning about this can give you more tools to manage your own needs and the impacts of the relapse on your emotions and health. A counselor can also work with you to restore wellness in family relationships and to help heal the whole family. It takes time and effort to recover from problem gambling and a relapse can feel like trust is broken again. Restoring trust in family relationships also takes time and work.

Family or couple’s therapy is a good place to express your feelings, work to restore trust with the person who has relapsed, and reconnect to the positive parts of the relationship. Therapy is also a way to strengthen the warm feelings and connections that exist in the family. With support and help, you and your family can get through this and continue on the road to recovery.

Get specialized support today

Kindbridge offers specialized support for problem gamblers, including family and couple’s therapy. We understand relapse and we can help. You do not have to go through this alone. Contact us today using the enquiry form or call
+1 (877) 426-4258.