The meteoric rise of legalized sports betting in the USA has altered the demographic of what a typical gambling addict looks like. Young adult males have become the focus as they dominate the volume of helpline calls. However, there is a segment of the population that is going underreported by the media and should not be forgotten – American women. Yes, it’s true that men are seven-and-a-half times more likely than women to become a problem gambler, but this does not mean half of society should be ignored.
Each month, thousands of spouses across the United States are entering “gambling wife” along with semantics related to addiction into their online browsers in search of assistance to help their beloved break the hold gambling has on their life. Problem gambling is known to tear marriages apart, and can even impact a mother’s relationship with her children. Further, the average gambling related debt for women in America is $15,000, which can have a significant impact on household finances. There is also the potential for criminal consequences. For example, a recent IRS and FBI report noted the indictment of a married couple, where the wife’s gambling activity totaled $4.5 million. To cover the debt, they stole $2.6 million from their business by forging company checks and filing false tax returns.
As someone who is worried about their wife’s relationship with gambling, you have come to terms with the fact that action needs to be taken today, before matters get worse. The good news, is that you’ve found Kindbridge Behavioral Health. As America’s preeminent resource for gambling disorder support, we have insight that you can apply to your situation. Please read ahead to begin the healing process.
4 Things You Need to Do if You Suspect That Your Wife Has a Gambling Problem
I. Confirm That Your Wife Has a Gambling Addiction
You may at-times wonder if you are overreacting. You’re probably not, but let’s find out. There are signs commonly associated with gambling addiction. If your wife exhibits some combination of the following, you are right to be concerned:
- She constantly talks about betting and/or casino gaming.
- Her elevated emotions (gamblers “high”) increase with increases (value and/or frequency) of her gambling.
- She has tried to control, cut down on, or stop gambling, without success.
- She gets sad, irritable, restless or anxious when not gambling, and in extreme cases, becomes aggressive.
- She gambles to escape problems or relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.
- She gambles more to recover losses.
- She neglects education or career opportunities because of the time and energy spent gambling.
- She forgets and/or neglects important occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) because of the time and energy spent gambling.
- She has become distant from friends, family, you, and even your children (as applicable).
- She has resorted to theft or fraud to support gambling.
- She has lied about gambling (going to the casino, etc.).
- She is in significant debt yet continues to gamble.
- She asks you and/or others for money to gamble.
II. Confirm Your Wife’s Potential Vulnerability to Gambling Addiction
There are cooccurring conditions that could be compromising your wife’s ability to break-free from gambling. In identifying the presence of these underlying conditions you and your wife will be better prepared to move forward with an action plan as therapeutic interventions may be required. Mental and behavioral health issues include the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Certain prescription medications used to treat mental health disorders
- Alcohol use disorder
View more on these mental/behavioral health vulnerabilities, which will guide your wife towards a more effective action plan against problem gambling. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is another factor, as studies find that women are significantly more likely to experience PTSD than men. Given that there is a comorbid relationship between PTSD and gambling disorder, another layer of complexity is added to the what your wife may be experiencing.
There are also certain social and cultural variables that may infer vulnerability. For instance, research shows that a higher proportion of black problem gamblers, compared with white problem gamblers, were women (49% versus 32%).
If in addition to the signs and symptoms, your wife has an innate predisposition to problem gambling, immediate action needs to be taken.
III. Consider an Intervention
After completing the first two steps above, you have realized that your wife (and household) needs immediate help. If you’ve tried to talk to her about the problem before to no avail, you may consider an intervention. To increase the odds of success, the intervention should factor in the following:
- Choose the right people to get involved (yourself, her parents, close friends, older children, etc.)
- Choose a safe space/environment
- Remove judgement
- Have tools and resources for assessing gambling disorder ready for the intervention
- Present immediate options for getting help
For greater insight, please reference this Gambling Intervention Program.
IV. Work the Problem, Together (even if on her own)
If an intervention isn’t the route you want to go, initiate (or reengage) in conversation about your concern for her and your household in a caring non-judgemental manner. As her spouse, you’re innately invested in her recovery, so let her know that you’re willing to do the work with her, even if that means stepping back as she discovers options that are available to her. There are online counseling options that she can participate in on her own, and/or together with you. Let her be the one to let you know what she is most comfortable with. Your wife may wish to begin with one-on-one therapy, and then eventually invite you into the recovery process with couple’s counseling that focuses on problem gambling. That being said, you don’t need to wait on the sidelines as the grip of betting or casino gaming loosens. For instance, you can enjoy these healthy alternatives to gambling together as a couple.
Encourage your wife to explore the options below:
Get Help for Your Gambling Wife Today
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