Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family Desperately in need of support :(

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    Hi everyone. This is my first post here….or anywhere else for that matter…about the problems we’re having with my son. He is 22 and although the problems have been going on for around four years (not really sure when all this really started) I’ve only just found out the true extent of his gambling a few days ago and am feeling shellshocked, hurt and quite physically sick. At around age 18-19 I started to notice changes in my sons behaviour. He got caught out a a lot for lying about stupid things. We had “the trust chat” and then it would go for a little while and everything would be fine then again there would be some small deceit. About two years ago he had a job in a local shop and was still living at home. He didnt come home from work and I couldn’t contact him on the phone and became frantic. You know when you just know something’s going on? We’ll eventually he was brough home by a friend who found him sitting under a bridge and he’d sliced his arms with broken glass. This is when I realised he had a serious problem. he’d been stealing money from the cash register and putting it in the slot machine in the same shop, losing and stealing and gambling to try and win in back etc etc. So I panicked and did totally the wrong thing. Rang the shopkeeper and bailed him out financially to prevent a call to the police. Looking back I wish I’d just let them call them because maybe things wouldnt have progressed to this point. For the last two years its been a continous round of being lied to, manipulated to get money (the excuses are alway incredibly believable and I’m a sucker every single time). I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression. I’ve lost all interest in my hobbies and feel like just sitting crying but force myself out of the door to work. Every time I even think his name I get that sick, stomach falling out feeling. I live in dread of my phone beeping in case it’s another crisis. It’s actually gone as far as to affect my marriage. I used to be so outgoing and fun and chatty and now I just can’t think of anything else except my son and the mess he’s in. The amounts kept getting bigger and bigger and then he discovered payday loans. In October he admitted to me he was in 17,000 euros of debt with these companies. He only has a temporary work contract and the interest rates are so astronomical he had no way of paying them. So I yet again did what I now realise was a very stupid thing. I took a bank loan in my name to pay them off. He of course promised me that was the end of it. He was sorry and loved me and just wanted to live a good life and as far as I was concerned everything was just great. He moved out of home and got a lovely place with his girlfriend. I had two months of happiness and lived in ignorant bliss for the first time in four years. Then just before christmas came the bombshell. His girlfriend sent me a frantic voice message saying my son has gone and left her a suicide note. In it he told her that he has much more debt than anyone knew and couldnt cope anymore. We found him and brought him home but I am so angry I just can’t describe it. He had lend the 17000 from me, paid the companies, lent it all back, gambled it then lent 20,000 from my dad to pay it all back then went and gambled a further 25,000. Now I have a huge loan in my name I can’t afford to pay. It’s literally going to sink me and my husband. My son has no way of paying anyone because his wages are not enough. My dad doesn’t even know that I know he lent the money and it’s killing me having to lie the whole time and remember what Ive said and what I haven’t. The worst thing in all of this is that even though it is an addiction like any other, I’m actually starting to really resent and almost dislike my own son. I never thought I’d say that out loud but i want to be truthful with you and myself. I’ve tried to get him help, suggested a psychiatrist, gambling support groups and everything under the sun but he wont do anything to help himself. I’m at my wits end and feel honestly like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown. Please, if anyone has any advice at all I’d be most grateful. Sorry for the long post. This is the first time I’ve said any of this and it actually feels good to get it all out. Thank you for your support x



    Hello Muminafix

    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


    Hi Muminafix
    I am so pleased you found us and I am glad that it felt good to get it all out. You are in a forum that understands you and I look forward to supporting you through this experience which neither you nor your son wanted or asked for.
    Until Monday I have little free time but I felt I had to reply to let you know that you have been heard and to mention something that jumped out at me, the fact that it has affected your marriage.
    From all the experience I have had, I have found that most fathers and mothers have different attitudes to the addiction to gamble in the family – fathers generally feel they should have never allowed the state of affairs to ever happen and that mothers are too soft; mothers protect children they no longer understand and feel caught in the middle with marriage and family falling apart. So the problem becomes a 3-way conflict and if there are siblings they can also throw further worries into the mix. The addiction to gamble is divisive and, in my opinion, fathers and mothers who divide can unwittingly feed the addiction.
    Time to take a breather – you have done the right thing, in my opinion, coming here. I cannot tell you what to do but if your husband is still listening I would suggest that you tell him that you have sought support and that his son’s addiction is not unknown and that he can control it with the right treatment. He is not to blame for his son’s behaviour and nor are you. It may well be that only you learn about the addiction but it is common that only one parent gains the knowledge. With knowledge you will learn to cope and make informed decisions putting you in the driving seat – and you, your husband and your son will gain from your efforts.
    Do you have a Gamanon near you, this is the sister group of GA (gamblers anonymous) and it is where I found my salvation. Physically sitting with others who understand is great, being here and being anonymous is great – having the two together is even better.
    Maybe you could download the gamblers anonymous 20-questions from their web- site and without anger or discussion, leave them where your son can read them – sometimes CGs (compulsive gamblers) do not realise that their problems are recognised and that they are far from alone. He may well screw them up and throw them away but hopefully he might come back later and unscrew the paper when you are not around.
    I am going to leave this here although there is so much to say. I hope you will join the Friends and Family group on Tuesday between 20.00-21.00 hours. It is private and nothing said within that group appears on the forum. You will be very welcome.
    Don’t look back and wish that you had done this or that. No amount of ‘what if’s’ or ‘if onlys’ change anything. Just live for what you do today and today you have done well.
    I would not be ‘talking’ to you if I didn’t know that the addiction to gamble could not be controlled and fantastic lives lived as a result. Nothing you said was not known to me and yet here I am, in control of my life and happy.
    Please try and keep communication open with your husband – unity against the addiction is so important even if he doesn’t want to know all the ins and outs.
    Speak soon


    I am the mom of a 27 year old son who also started compulsively gambling at 18 years old. A lot of your story could be ours. He has stolen from us, our business, his siblings. He has also slashed his wrists a few times. He was living with a roommate and left a suicide note and his poor roomate was also frantic. It is hard to believe that gambling can drive them to these dark places but it does.

    You did what you did bailing him out because you love him and didn’t know better. You are probably starting to see that as long as you keep giving he will keep taking. This isn’t an issue of love… he has a very strong addiction that renders him powerless over gambling.

    Unfortunately they have to really feel the consequences of their actions. As a mom this is brutal and requires every ounce of strength you have to watch them fall and suffer. From my 9 years dealing with this ( I am a slow learner:)) there is nothing you are going to do or say that is going to make your son see this as a problem. Only he can decide when he has had enough. You can help the process along by taking a huge step back and getting yourself to a GamAnon group. I have been going for 3 years and the support, gentle suggestions and friendship have honestly made this nightmare bearable.

    Keep writing and talking. All addictions love secrecy and once you bring them to the light of day they don’t have half the power!

    Take Care

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