Here you can find frequently asked questions by family and friends and answers to them.
1. How can I support and help my loved one who suffers from a gambling problem but who doesn´t admit it himself/herself?
The first step is that the one who gambles notices and admits the existence of the problem. He/she has to be willing at least to consider a change. Sometimes this process can take long, sometimes things progress faster.
Below is a list of methods in order to get the gambler to see the existence of the problem and to admit it:
Bring up the harms you see in your loved ones gambling during your discussions.
Don´t pay off your loved ones gambling debts or give him/her money, because this will often just prolong the existence of the gambling problem and delay the willingness of starting to fix the problem.
Set your own limits for what you allow and what you don´t allow from your loved one and stick to them. Take care of your own coping and secure your own economics. Give a hand with taking care of things to that degree that you are able to, want to and can cope with.
The gambler does often feel shame and helplessness because of that he/she can´t control his/her own behaviour. He/she wants to cover up his/her gambling and explain things in a favourable light for himself/herself and for others. You can alleviate the shame by telling that there are over 100 000 other persons in Finland who suffer from a gambling problem. Assure him/her that it is possible to make a change and to have a better future. Use your own means to encourage the gambler with the change.
Advice your loved one to for example read the websites of Peluuri and/or the Valtti forum. You can call Peluuri and ask us for material that you can then give to your loved one to read. Knowledge and similar experiences will hopefully help your loved one to notice the existence of the problem and the need for a change as well as increase the hopefulness of a change to be possible.
- Don´t go along with unrealistic dreams of winning, because these dreams will only sustain the enthusiasm of gambling and they make the quitting/reducing more difficult.
In order to minimize the harms remind your loved one to take care of the obligatory payments (food, rent, bills etc.) immediately when his/her salary, pension or other incomes are paid and, if you have the possibility, make sure that he/she also does so.
Help your loved one with making a budget and encourage him/her to use the direct payments option in his/her online banking service. Advise him/her to give away his/her credit card.
2. I try to bring up the gambling in a calm way but the gambler gets nervous and doesn´t agree to talk about it. What can I do?
Problem gamblers do often have several reasons why they don’t want to talk about their gambling:
- the harms caused by gambling aren´t yet significant enough
- the gambler is denying the problem for himself/herself and others
- it can feel too bad or too difficult to talk about it
- the gambler can feel that the problem is a private matter which doesn´t concern others
- silence can feel like a way to solve the situation
No-one can be forced to talk and everyone doesn´t know how, or have the courage, to talk about their feelings. For many people it is difficult to express their feelings in words or try to explain their behaviour or the reasons which led to it – the reasons are not always very clear and structured for the gambler either.
However, if the problematic behaviour isn´t confronted it cannot be changed. Silent approval or acceptance of a harmful behaviour equals allowance. This won’t help the gambler nor change to situation of the loved one.
In case the other persons behaviour or actions causes sorrow, grief or arguments there have to be a possibility to communicate in some way with one’s inner circle of close relatives and friends. There are many ways for self-expression and it is possible to learn how to deal with difficult things too.
Here are a few tips in case it feels difficult to start the discussion:
You can encourage the gambler to write down his/her thoughts for himself/herself, as a letter to you or to a peer support forum.
The gambler and the loved one can agree on the times when they´ll concentrate on talking about only the gambling problem. In this way the conversations will stay on topic. Decide a time, topic, length and rules for the conversation. Both parts are obligated to come with suggestions to help solve the problem.
- Sometimes an outside mediator is needed. Instances offering services for problem gamblers do also help couples and families. Different services for couples can also be helpful.
If the gambler doesn´t want to communicate in any way regarding the problem, the loved one have to review his/her own situation and ask himself/herself if he/she wants to continue like this? When the gambler avoids facing the facts the loved one can do the same thing without even noticing. It is important to wish for a change, but without action, own or the other parts, no situations will change.
The problematic gambling of a loved one does easily give birth to strong feelings. Even in a surge of emotions it is worth to think about how to express things so that to situation won´t grind to a halt: pay attention especially to how you talk, which words you use when talking about the other person and how to express yourself in a way that advances to discussion.
Talking about gambling doesn´t need to be an argument. Both parts are responsible for the way they express themselves.
3. How can I help my loved one who gambles problematically but doesn´t want to quit gambling completely?
Many people who realise that they gamble too much at first wants to try limiting their gambling.
If there have been only occasional minor excesses in the control of the gambling it is possible that the limiting really works out. On the other hand, if the gambling limits are repeatedly exceeded or the games have caused serious economic problems or debts, is it highly likely that the gambler can’t keep his/her gambling under control in the future either.
The attempts to limit the gambling are still positive signs: they signal that the gambler wants to do something in order to change his/her gambling habits. If these attempts fail, it usually leads to a decision to stop gambling all together.
There is no one correct way of acting. However, there are a few good principles that are worth considering in the case that your loved one tries to limit his/her problematic gambling:
Make the gambling and the spending transparent.
Make a budget together. It is good that the ”partner without problems” also makes an budget and set an example of how to control spending. After a week or a month take a close look at where your money has gone.
- Do a common plan and agreement, in which you write down the answers to the following questions:
What is the amount of money and time that the gambler can spend on games per week?
What is the amount he/you can lose without getting upset?
Which games have caused problems to the gambler, which haven´t? Games with a fast tempo (for example slot machines, online games, casino table games and live betting) cause more often problems than lottery games and live betting’s with a slower tempo.
In which situations is the gambler allowed/not allowed to gamble?
How can you as a loved one ensure that the gambling limits hold up? Do also set weekly and monthly limits for gambling sites.
What does the gambler promise to do if he/she doesn´t stick to the gambling limits?
- How precisely do you hold on to the limits?
Remember that unfortunately your support, advices and encouragement doesn’t always lead to a desired outcome. The gambling or non-gambling of another adult person is never your responsibility.
4. My partner can´t restrict his/her gambling. He/she has often promised to quit, but I catch him/her gambling over and over again. How does the problem disappear? This makes also me upset.
Problems doesn´t unfortunately disappear just because we wish them to. A gambling problem will not be cured by the loved ones suffering, sacrifices or mental malaise. The relationship to the gambler works as all other relationships- lies, avoiding of responsibility or other kind of negative behaviour affect it.
If the gamblers doesn´t succeed in quitting by himself/herself he/she should seek help. There can be many hindrances in seeking assistance (like shame, lack of effort, fear, uncertainness regarding the treatment, possible queuing time, obsession of getting things fixed by oneself), but it is worth encouraging the gambler to take the help offered in spite of these hindrances so that the harmful behaviour can be changed.
When being in the middle of gambling problems the loved one usually notices faster than the gambler that everyone is responsible for his/her own actions or non-actions. The same apply to searching for help: the loved one can give an example to the gambler by searching for help or support and noticing that he/she feels better, find new ways to act and take care of himself/herself.
5. My loved one doesn´t take care of his/her obligatory finances but gambles all his/her money. How can I step in? Can I restrict his/her right to get payday loans, put his/her bills in direct debit or install restrictions on the computer?
If your loved one is capable of taking care of his/her own things (he/she has no memory disorders, is not under guardianship, not underage etc.), he/she has a right that is called self-determination.
In that case you can persuade and help your loved one to make an appointment to the doctor, a debt counsellor or to a place that offer treatment for gambling problems. You can book an appointment f to couples therapy or family therapy yourself and you can also visit together the instance providing treatment for gambling problems.
If your loved one gambles using your computer, you can install a blocking software which blocks the access to online casinos or betting sites. If he/she uses his/her own computer help and encourage him/her to install the blocking software or do so yourself after receiving his/her permission.
You can together take a voluntary own credit stoppage. In that case your loved one can only take credit with the certificate which he/she can give in your possession and you again can hide it to a place he/she can´t find it. You can also set an option in the credit stoppage that you get a notification every time your loved one applies for a pay day loan. However, you can´t take a credit stoppage on behalf of someone else so you have to do it together in mutual agreement.
You can´t take a marketing ban on behalf of someone else: it can only be taken by the owner of the telephone subscription.
So with the assent of your loved one you can help him/her sort out different things. Help, but do not absorb the responsibility. It is better that the responsibility of paying bills caused by gambling as well as fixing other financial problems stays with the gambler.
The best way to control the finances is to transfer all the money on payday to the persons bank account who doesn´t have a gambling problem.
If you feel that your loved one isn´t capable of taking care of himself/herself or his/her finances, you can file a petition for appointment of a guardian at the Local Register Office. The Local Register Office will based on the petition (filed by the person himself/herself or someone else) gather information from the doctors, health care professionals and/or the social workers of the case in order to make the decision if the person in question need a guardian. The person in question is heard in person as well as the petitioner if the petition is made by someone else.
The Local Register Office can appoint a guardian, if the person oneself has filed for the petition and asked for someone specific to be appointed as his/her guardian. In other cases the decision is made by the district court. The competency of the person is restricted gradually and never more than necessary in order to protect the person in question. The need to continue with the guardianship is checked every four years. Guardianships are often connected to difficult life situations and they don’t last for the rest of the life.
A person who is suitable for the task and who gives his/her permission to it can be appointed as a guardian. You get more detailed information about the guardianship practice by contacting the Local Register Office.
6. Does my loved one ever get rid of his/her gambling problem or do I always have to be on my guard? Can I ever trust the gambler anymore?
Many gamblers ”get better”, just like many drug addicts or other addicts get their problem under control. Everyone has a chance to recover. It is impossible to know beforehand who recovers.
A person suffering from a gambling problem can learn new ways to control his/her everyday life, so that he/she doesn’t need to gamble or can keep his/her gambling under control.
For some people gambling can have worked as an escape in a difficult life situation and gambling can have been a way to try to solve other problems. When the situations change and when new ways to solve problems have been learned, the person may realize that he/she no longer uses gambling as a way to survive or control feelings.
A person suffering from a gambling problem do sometimes feel that the tendency to gamble and attraction to games will always be a part of him/her. Even in these cases it is possible for the person to learn an everyday life where the addiction isn´t steering his/her actions. There is a lot of different ways to control life and gambling: self-help tools, peer supporting groups, therapy, information and literature.
It is possible to learn to trust a person with a gambling problem, just like it is possible to learn to trust anyone who has changed his/her course of action. In a relationship trust is based on us believing in the other person’s words or promises he/she gives us.
The quitting of problematic gambling is often connected to the relearning of openness and honesty. The gambler learns how to recognise feelings, thoughts and actions connected to self-deception as well as situations were these occur.
The gambler and their loved ones benefit from learning how to talk with each other in an open way, plainly and without hiding anything. A gambler who learns how to express himself/herself openly can give his/her loved one a possibility to support himself/herself in difficult situations. In this way the loved one can learn to notice which everyday situations might awaken the urge to gamble.
There is a wide selection of support, help and tools to help build a functioning and trusting relationship: books, manuals, different courses (for couples or individual) as well as services for families and couples provided by the municipality.