Dealing with life’s problems is never easy, but dealing with problem gambling is often an overwhelming task for all those involved. Here are a few of the more common reasons for this:
To save “face” and keep harmony in the family, many family members of problem gamblers will do anything to help the gambler. Whether it means paying the gambler’s debts or taking over the gambler’s responsibilities in the family, family members often try hard to help, even at the expense of their own health and wellbeing. However, this approach only makes it easier for the gambling to continue.
Relapse is the process of resuming the problematic behaviours and patterns. (A gambler begins to gamble too much after having cut down or stopping for a period of time.) Relapses are not uncommon and can occur even when intentions to quit or control gambling are sincere. If gamblers don’t understand relapses and see them as failure, fate or other signs, they are less likely to learn from their mistakes and work to prevent them from happening again.
The social view that problem gambling is a sign of character flaws, moral weakness or unlucky fate creates feelings of shame and a desire for secrecy in gamblers and their families. They become reluctant to admit that a problem exists or to seek outside help for fear they will be judged and criticized. Unfortunately, the situation will likely get worse if the underlying problem is not addressed.
Most problem gamblers experience strong urges to gamble. The urges can be triggered by many factors. Internal factors, such as the gambler’s desire to win back money lost, or external factors, such as the presence of gambling venues or access to money, can all cause gambling urges. It can take a lot of hard work and quite a few attempts at controlling the urges before they no longer affect the gambler.
Many people from the immigrant communities in North America come from countries where seeking assistance from “outsiders” for personal issues is an unfamiliar way to solve problems. For example, their culture may put a strong emphasis on self-reliance for solving a problem and saving face. This makes reaching out for help a difficult thing to do, even though they are not able to handle the problem effectively themselves. In addition to this cultural factor, a number of other barriers contributing to their reluctance to seek help exist. Examples include: difficulty with the English language; lack of access to helpers who can communicate in their language or understand their unique needs and challenges; lack of awareness of the resources available to help them; being overwhelmed with the other challenges often faced by immigrants when they come to North America.
Much of the information covered on this website is not widely known or available, especially to members of immigrant communities. Lack of information can lead to unwise and unsafe gambling practices for the gamblers, increase confusion and frustration for family, friends or loved ones and hamper everyone’s efforts to solve the problems effectively.