The Impact of Pathological Gambling on the Spouse of the Gambler

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The present investigation focused on the spouses of compulsive gamblers and attempted to obtain baseline information on their personal characteristics, family backgrounds, as well as information about their awareness of gambling as a behavioral disorder, their reactions to the problems they encountered as a result of living with a compulsive gambler, and how they attempted to cope with those problems. The results indicate that the spouse of the compulsive gambler is affected by significant social, psychological, and economic stresses that can be directly related to the partner's gambling activities. The impact of such stresses can be observed in a variety of dysfunctional coping responses. The participants in this investigation eventually obtained assistance in dealing with their problems from Gam-Anon, the family counterpart of Gamblers Anonymous. But, prior to their contact with Gam-Anon, they sought assistance from members of the medical, religious, financial, legal, and mental health fields. For the most part such individuals were perceived as being unable to assist the survey participants in dealing with their problems. Recent advances in our understanding of the psychological bases of compulsive gambling and its treatment have led to the development of community-based treatment services for the gambler. The results of this investigation point out the need for the provision of services to those affected by the gambler as well.