Gambling hurts families too... Gambling Harm Awareness Week 27 October to 3 November 2016

Gambling Harm Awareness

Gambling harm is any negative consequence, caused or made worse by gambling, that affects the health or wellbeing of an individual, their family or community. It involves more than just financial losses and has impacts beyond the person who gambles.

Family, friends, work mates and even colleagues can all feel the effect of gambling harm. But sadly, the stigma associated with gambling often prevents those affected from seeking help. People harmed by gambling may feel embarrassed and ashamed, and understandably, find it hard to talk about their gambling.

It’s important to know that you are not alone. Almost 15,000 Canberrans report some harm from their gambling. Almost half of all gambling losses come from these Canberrans.

15,000 Canberrans experience harm from their gambling. Gambling can impact relationships, family and emotions. 43,000 Canberrans have a family member with gambling problems.

Gambling harm can be...

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High levels of stress can bring on serious physical symptoms. These include tiredness, increased blood pressure, loss of sleep, migraines, nausea and stomach upsets, peptic ulcers and coronary heart disease.

Gambling harm may also affect the way you feel emotionally. This includes feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, shame or stigma. You may also experience feelings of isolation and the inability to talk to anyone about your concerns.

Financial harm is often the crisis that leads to seeking help and speaking up. At its most extreme, it may involve loss of housing or bankruptcy. It can develop over time and include the inability to no longer meet the cost of essential items such as food, clothing, personal care products, fuel, utilities and housing.

At its core, gambling harm can affect your relationships. This can include feeling that you or the other person is withdrawing, uncommunicative, as well as engaging and spending less time with family members. You begin to miss out on things because the money is not there or the other person won’t join you. Family members feel they need to fix things, control access to money or even rescue other family members. Becoming isolated, particularly if gambling, may not be culturally or socially acceptable in your community or extended family. Family members may feel that the harm is somehow their fault, that if they were a better partner, child or parent, this wouldn’t happen.

What can I do?

Help for your gambling

You are not alone. In the ACT more than 15,000 people are experiencing harm from their gambling.

If you want to explore strategies to reduce gambling harm, information, self help strategies, online forums and online support are available at Gambling Help Online.

If you would prefer to talk to someone you can call 1800 858 858 anytime.

Family and Friends

Gambling harm may be impacting your health and wellbeing, so look after yourself first. Free and confidential help services including financial counselling are available if you need them or would just like to talk to someone.

If you decide to raise the issue of gambling harm with your family member who is gambling be mindful that they are likely to be embarrassed, ashamed and possibly defensive. It may be hard to talk.

A gambling counsellor is available to help and support you online, over the phone or in person. To talk to someone at anytime, you can call 1800 858 858.

To see a gambling or financial counsellor call 1800 858 858 to organise a free and confidential appointment.

There are good resources available for family members too including:

Want to know more?

Find out more at Gambling Help Online or by contacting the National Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.

If you are interested in research about gambling harm, visit the Commission’s Research page.