The impact of gambling problems on families

The impact of gambling problems on families

Gambling problems can have significant impacts on families and communities, yet this has received relatively little research attention. Although most available information is based on intimate partners and children, gambling problems can also affect extended family members such as parents, grandparents and siblings.

This discussion paper summarises the available research about how gambling problems affect family relationships and family members, how families cope with gambling problems, and the assessment and therapy options available to the family members of people with gambling problems.

Key messages

  • Impaired family relationships, emotional problems and financial difficulties are some of the most common effects on family members of people with gambling problems.

  • The family members of people with gambling problems are most likely to employ coping strategies that involve trying to change the excessive gambling of the gambler. The use of these strategies may result in these family members experiencing emotional and physical health problems.

  • Despite accessing gambling support services at relatively high rates, there are few assessment tools and therapy approaches specifically designed for the family members of people with gambling problems.
Key messages: 

Impaired family relationships, emotional problems and financial difficulties are some of the most common effects on family members of people with gambling problems.

The family members of people with gambling problems are most likely to employ coping strategies that involve trying to change the excessive gambling of the gambler. The use of these strategies may result in these family members experiencing emotional and physical health problems.

Despite accessing gambling support services at relatively high rates, there are few assessment tools and therapy approaches specifically designed for the family members of people with gambling problems.

The author would like to thank the Australian Research Council, which provided financial support for the Problem Gambling and Family Violence study, and Gambling Research Australia, which provided financial support for the Children at Risk of Developing Gambling Problems study. The author also wishes to acknowledge the valuable contributions to research on families by all of her co-authors, particularly Professor Alun Jackson (University of Melbourne), Dr Aino Suomi (Australian National University), Dr Tiffany Lavis (Flinders University), and Ms Simone Rodda (Deakin University).

Associate Professor Nicki Dowling is an Associate Professor of Psychology in the School of Psychology at Deakin University. She holds honorary positions at the Melbourne School of Education at the University of Melbourne, the School of Psychological Sciences at Monash University, and the Centre for Gambling Research at the Australian National University.

AGRC Discussion Paper
1
12 pp.
ISSN: 
2204-2989
ISBN: 
978-1-922038-80-7