Home > Helping families and friends negatively affected by gambling: policy and practice recommendations from Adfam’s research.

Adfam. (2022) Helping families and friends negatively affected by gambling: policy and practice recommendations from Adfam’s research. London: Adfam.

PDF (Helping families and friends negatively affected by gambling)

Over recent years Adfam has conducted four online surveys which looked at the effects of gambling on families and carers.
• A scoping survey before Adfam’s project started to identify the need - 35 responses (January 2018).
• A survey on the effects of gambling on families and what support would be beneficial – 36 responses (June 2019).
• Examining the effects of COVID-19 on families affected by gambling - 7 responses (March 2021). https://adfam.org.uk/our-work/news-and-events/news/1047
• A YouGov poll for people currently negatively affected by the gambling of a family member or friend – 42 responses (June 2021).

These surveys provided not only quantitative data on the scale of gambling’s impact but also a qualitative picture of the affected other’s experience. This was supplemented by a telephone interview with someone affected by a family member’s gambling. This qualitative data is set out in the ‘the voices of family members’ section.

Adfam’s research highlights the impact that gambling can have on family members and friends. The numbers are small in the individual studies, but this can be seen as a reflection of the under recognition the issue has in public awareness. Greater awareness and understanding is needed to highlight the challenges that families can face. Nonetheless, the existing responses paint a picture of real unmet need. As with substance misuse, often the family members and friends are suffering far more than the person with the addiction. They are experiencing anxiety, financial problems and abuse at a level that is destroying lives and undermining families. However, our research also highlights more than just the impact of gambling on affected others. It highlights real calls from affected others for more services to meet their needs. 

Therefore, the following nine policy and practice recommendations flow from the research:
• The needs of those affected by a loved one’s gambling needs to be formally recognised by the government and addressed in any national strategic or policy initiatives focused on the harms caused by gambling.
• Gambling problems need to be recognised as a public health issue and addressed by local authority public health teams.
• Health promotion / awareness raising work is required both to prevent gambling problems but also to highlight the need for support for affected others.
• Greater recognition is needed of the stigma, mental health and financial impact of problem gambling on affected others and, in particular, risks such as suicide.
• Any family member of a gambler should be able to access both face to face and online help wherever they live in the country.
• The help available should embrace both group and one to one support including telephone support.
• Accredited training in supporting those affected by a loved one’s gambling should be available nationally and rolled out to key professional groups such as primary care and mental health.
• Peer support should be a key part of the support to those affected by a loved one’s gambling.
• Training should be nationally available to facilitate people with lived experience as an affected other providing peer support to others who are living with someone suffering gambling related harms.

Repository Staff Only: item control page