Hi Worried
I am so pleased you knew to come back – welcome.
I probably remember you under another name but I have no idea what support you were given when you came before, so please forgive any repetition
Before I say anymore I want you to know that it is because I know the addiction to gamble can be controlled that I am writing to you and like you, it is my son who is the CG.
You have mentioned your son’s low self-esteem and isolation from his friends but you have not said anything about you and you are very important in your son’s ultimate determination to change his life.
A way of coping with your son’s addiction that is nor recognised professionally but has been successfully used by many members, is to imagine your son’s addiction as a slavering beast in the corner of the room and to always remember that your son is controlled by that addiction but you do not have to be.
When you speak to your son, the addiction beast in the corner is watching and waiting for a reason to gamble further and to blame you and the world for that urge. When you threaten the addiction, it comes between you and controls the conversation or argument because it is the master of threats and manipulation and you are not. Once the addiction is between you, you will only hear his addiction speak – its weapons are lies and deceit and it will seek to make you feel blame and demoralize you. As you speak the addiction distorts your words making them incomprehensible to your son.
My CG, son who does live in control of his addiction, explained it to me by saying that when I talked to him about love, honesty and living a decent life, his addiction was hard at work passing on to his confused mind, that I could not possibly love him because he was unlovable and worthless (the same low self esteem you mention in your son). As a result he believed me a liar and didn’t trust me. He knew he was lost but he didn’t know that I knew it too, so his addiction fought back horribly because he didn’t have any other coping mechanism. The threat of suicide is the addiction’s ultimate thread and the most difficult to cope with but it is the threat of an addiction.
I cannot tell you what to do but I think it is better not to believe anything your son says while he is an active CG because in doing so you become receptive. If you can stand back a bit and listen to what he is saying, it becomes easier not get caught up in an argument that has no point apart from making you feel less in control. Once you begin to try and put your side the addiction has something to get its teeth into. Come back on here and tell me what he is saying rather than argue with him.
Are you worrying about this on your own? Do you have other family to support you? The addiction to gamble divides families by feeding on lies and secrecy. Unfortunately unless people have lived with the addiction to gamble, their opinions can be very narrow and not supportive so personally I think it is best to tell others as a statement rather than ask for opinions which are generally unhelpful. You can gather information here so that you can make your own informed decisions with that knowledge. Often it is better to share – especially as your son’s addiction is possibly/probably hurting other too.
I like the term quasi recovery but I know it is an extremely fragile state. In my opinion it would be good to tell your son that you are seeking support that you are making the effort and you are stronger for it. Find out about local GA groups, perhaps tell him about this site and suggest he calls our helpline, look into dedicated addiction counsellors. Write information down about support groups in big letters and leave it where he can find it – again if you approach him verbally, his addiction will not want to hear. I think it is good to let him know without fear and tears that you are on his side – that you are seeking to understand, rather than telling him what you think he should do. There are no words to make him stop gambling but there are seeds you can sow in his mind that a gamble-free life is possible, that you will support him if he seeks it but you will not support his addiction.
He is not alone and he will be understood in GA, on our helpline and in our forum ‘My Journal’. We have CG only groups that he can join and know that what he says is understood. Give him hope – but most importantly look after you because as part of the wreckage of his addiction, you will not be able to support him.
Write again soon and hopefully join me in one of our F&F only groups which are listed at the top in ‘Support Groups’.