Supporting Dad on Father’s Day Posted On

Father’s Day is around the corner.   This is a day that many use as an opportunity to show gratitude for men’s commitment to being great parents.  This day may also serve as a great opportunity to help any father who may be struggling with problem gambling.

Men’s Struggle with Problem Gambling

Different from youth, women or older Americans, men’s struggle with gambling problems tend to be more gradual, which makes identifying early problem gambling in men harder than other groups of people.  Since gambling is an addiction that is easily hidden, gradual changes in finances, character, and moods may not seem to be a problem right away.

Gambling may start off as an interest or hobby usually as a social activity, or it can start as a leisure or coping activity to relax.  It’s important to know that fathers, just like anyone else, generally don’t begin gambling with the intent of losing family income and savings, or hurting their family in any way, similar to most people addicted to alcohol or other drugs don’t begin using these substances to hurt their loved ones. 

Effects of a Father’s Gambling Problems

Some red flags of a father struggling with problem gambling may include:

  • Uncertainty of what mood a father will be in when he gets home.
  • Regularly borrowing money to cover debts.
  • Often absent from home or family responsibilities.
  • Gradual personality change as gambling activities progress.

Depending on whether a father has children living with him, the effects of his gambling related problems may have different severity on his children.  For instance, a father struggling with problem gambling who spends money on gambling that was earmarked for food will have a different impact on a child living in his home versus a child living elsewhere.  But, whether or not his children live with him, they feel the emotional effects similarly. 

Helping Dad

A father may be aware of the negative effects of his gambling.  He may have expressed interest in trying to cut back or quit his gambling activities.  If he has expressed these thoughts or feelings, here are some resources that can help him in his quest for recovery from problem gambling.

Your First Step to CHANGE is a toolkit and a guide to begin the path to recovery from problem gambling.  This tool will help a willing father understand facts about problem gambling, understand his own gambling, and guide him through the process of changing his lifestyle to avoid problem gambling.   

Self-Exclusion is a great way to help someone stop gambling.  Self-exclusion is an opportunity for any person to state assistance in excluding them from gambling at state run casinos, horse tracks, interactive fantasy sports, and OTBs.  This is not a permanent fix, but certainly a great tool to help someone in recovery from problem gambling an assistance at times when they may feel triggered to place a bet.

Additional Help is available.  Whether your father wants to seek group support like Gamblers Anonymous, or individualized treatment from a counselor, there are options available for him.  The easiest way for him to find local options to help is by calling the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY (or 1-877-846-7369). 

Even with all of this information, the easiest way to begin helping your father is by having a an open conversation about your feelings and concerns about his gambling, while being open to his thoughts as well.  We hope that all fathers are doing well, and that they and family can enjoy a very happy Father’s Day.