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    My 24 year old son is an addict. I have unwittingly and sometimes willingly covered for him, and just last night finally got him to admit that he had lost £2k of mine.

    My issue right now is that he is living with my parents. He has burnt so many bridges – with my husband – his own father (who is an addict of a different kind) – his girlfriend and his friends. My parents have no idea he is a gambler but after a couple of months are recognising inconsistencies in his ‘stories’ surrounding money. I can see that my mother is subsidising him and that is creating friction between my mum and dad.

    My son has isolated himself from his friends, my parents don’t understand why he never wants to come back to his home town even for the weekend – my son has admitted to me that he is limiting his access to drugs and alcohol, but I don’t think he has any meaningful relationships with friends anymore anyway.

    The toll on myself has been massive, I have developed chronic migraines and I know the stress and worry about my sonand about his relationship with my husband has all played a really large part in contributing to this. However while it is a relief to have someone else looking after him, i know that I can’t leave him living at my parents and allowing him to start to steal and blag money off them and inevitably put under a great deal of stress.

    My son admitted some things to me last night regarding his gambling, and I asked if he would go to a group, let me manage his finances for a while to restrict access to money, all of which he said no to. So what to do? Insist he tells my parents? Insist he comes home? He can’t afford to live alone and I can’t support him.

    My husband thinks I should back off and look after myself, I do need to care for myself for sure, but I cannot sit by and see him lying to my parents and causing friction in their lives.

    How do I proceed? Stop giving him money? But then unwittingly my mum will.

    I think having got to the point of posting this I can finally admit that I am struggling to cope, I can see that the stress of this has impacted massively on my own emotional and mental health, as well as my relationship with my husband. So any input gratefully received at this point. Liz



    Hello Lizzy

    Thanks for starting a thread in the Gambling Therapy friends and family forum. This forum will provide you with warmth and understanding from your peers.

    Feel free to use the friends and family group, you’ll find the times for these if you click on the “Group times” box on our Home page. Now that you have introduced yourself you’ll find that many of the people you meet here have already read your initial introduction and they’ll welcome you in like an old friend 🙂

    If you’re the friend or family member of someone who is either in, or has been through, the GMA residential programme please take extra care to make sure that nothing you say in groups, or on our forums, inadvertently identifies that person. Even if your loved one isn’t connected with GMA, please don’t identify them either directly or indirectly just in case they decide to use the site themselves.

    You’ll find a lot of advice on this site, some of which you’ll follow, some you won’t…but that’s ok because only you fully understand your
    situation and what’s best for you and the people you love. So, take the support you need and leave the advice you don’t because it all comes from a caring, nurturing place 🙂

    We look forward to hearing all about you!

    Take care

    The Gambling Therapy Team

    PS: Let me just remind you to take a look at our
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    Hi Lizzy
    Whereas I agree with your husband that you should look after yourself, I fully appreciate that your parents deserve support and to this end, in my opinion, they should be informed about their grandson’s addiction.
    You ask ‘how can I proceed?” and give the options that if you stop giving him money then unwittingly your mum will. I unwittingly enabled for 23 years so I do not recommend leaving vulnerable people in the dark – and by vulnerable I mean those close to your son who care about him.
    I know that situations such as the one you are experiencing puts great stress on a husband and his wife but unity is the best thing for all of you and that includes your parents. The addiction to gamble is divisive and secretive and from what you say it is succeeding in your family. In my opinion a meeting between you, your husband and your parents to create a united front would be the best thing for your son and their grandson. Maybe it would be a good idea for you to tell them that you have sought help and that you would like to act on what you hear.
    Did he leave home recently to live with his grandparents?
    It might be that your son’s friends have turned their backs on him if he has been borrowing from them and they are aware that there is no hope for them to get their money back, it may be that he doesn’t want to return to his home town because of memories or fear of what he will find.
    I am sorry you have reached the point you have but I am glad you have posted because you are understood here. The first post is the hardest to write – so well done to you.
    I wouldn’t be writing to you Lizzy if i didn’t know that the addiction to gamble could be controlled but it takes a lot of courage for a CG to face his demons.
    Is your son working? What other sibling does he have and are they successful in a way that maybe your son feels he is not? Do the siblings get on or has he ‘borrowed’ from them too?
    You don’t have to answer questions Lizzy but it helps me to get a better picture of what is going on in your world. The F&F group on Tuesdays between 20.00-21.00 hour UK time is completely private and nothing said in a group appears on the forum – you will be very welcome.
    Sadly without treatment the addiction to gamble gets worse and the more people who enable the faster it grows. I cannot tell you what to do but if it was me I would not give him any more money. Clearing his gambling debts is wiping his slate clean so he can gamble further. I think that sadly you might have to write the £2000 off as an expensive experience.
    Please keep posting – your son didn’t want or ask for his addiction anymore than you or your husband wanted it in your lives – it is an unwelcome and unwanted guest but at the moment your son is insisting it is a guest that he needs to support – but you do not have to feed it. Please also keep learning about the addiction because it will give you power over it and help you to enlighten your husband and parents.
    Maybe your son is not aware that he has a problem that is recognised and for which there is a lot more support nowadays. Perhaps you could print of the gamblers anonymous 20-questions and leave them for your son to see.
    Speak soon


    I am the mom of a 27 year old gambling addict. We all unwittingly and willingly enable our addict children. It kind of comes with the territory of being a mom so you are certainly not alone in that respect 🙂

    Unfortunately we all reach a point when we realise that all our good intentions aren’t helping and in fact are making things worse. We think I will just help this one more time and the penny will surely drop that they will figure out that the gambling has to stop. However, with gambling addiction as long as someone is paying they will continue playing.

    I agree with Velvet… I think all the family (parents included) need to know exactly what is going on. Secrecy with addiction never ends up working . Your son will end up manipulating ,deceiving and playing you all off against each other.

    Your husband is correct in that once we start to look after ourselves with boundaries you will feel stronger and more able to cope.

    I am sorry there are no easy answers to this. It will take a lot of conscious effort on your part to deal with this. Can you get to a Gam Anon meeting? It can be a great source of support.



    Thank you for your comments. I have decided that I will firstly offer my son the option of telling his grandparents first. I realised that it also feels like ‘my’ secret too. I do however have concerns about his grandparents level of understanding my dad has worked hard all his life to provide for us all, in a way money has been one of the underlying principles of his life and I’m concerned that they won’t be able to understand this addiction and will think he should just ‘stop’.

    Also my son doesn’t seem prepared to undertake any practical tools, such as attending meetings or handing over his finances – which are things he has made half hearted attempts at in the past. – so besides saying ‘just leave me to it, only I can sort it out, I will just stop!’ I’m not sure what his commitment is to stopping!

    My sense is that I should let my son know too that I am on this site and taking help, I don’t want to lay heavy blame at his door, but I don’t see any harm in letting him know how is actions are impacting on me.

    In response to Velvet, he doesn’t have any siblings, he does have work, but he is freelance and finds it difficult to find a long term position which I think is largely down to his behaviour but More recently coming up to Xmas has been just bad luck.

    He has struggled to find his way and his father is an addict of a different kind. I suspect that he (father) also has a personality disorder and has been at times a really destructive influence in my sons life. My son has stopped contact with his father in the last few months, stopped drugs and limited his drinking I think gambling was his last remaining self destructive habit that he could perform un-noticed.

    Gosh what a journey!


    I feel sorry for you. I can understand your pain and feelings. Even my son has a gambling addiction problem. He had gambled away thousands of dollars at local casinos. It seems that the case with most of the gamblers is threatened suicide. I’m just worried about that. With one of my friends suggestion, I’m thinking of taking him for gambling addiction treatment ( ). I just wanted to ask someone here and get support on this.

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