Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family Don’t know what to do now – long but would appreciate any support

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    This is a bit of an essay but it is my story. If anyone has any ideas or support or just even takes the time to read this then thank you.

    My partner started heavily gambling two years ago, a few months after we both started university. We once went to a casino together with a few of my roommates and everyone was ready to leave but my partner had to stay – he was on a “winning streak.” He would give me the £25 chips and say “hold these as I’m going to cash them out” but then half an hour later when he was losing he would grab them off me and use them, ending up with us a few hours later leaving empty handed.

    This happened more times than I can even count all throughout first year. He would borrow money off me and tell me he would pay me back but he would then lose in the casino and have no money to give me any money back. I remember he at one stage owed me over £400. He was a different person in these situations. We had only recently started dating, so I wanted to impress and didn’t want to argue so for a long time it was something I just ignored and didn’t have a go at him for it. I convinced myself it’s just a bit of fun, he doesn’t spend THAT much in one sitting so it’s fine? all his friends do it?

    It then got to a stage where I started to become frustrated. I didn’t like going to the casino, I didn’t like him saying he would come over to mine at 7pm but then not arrive until 6am as he had been in the casino. He once invited me to his house for a weekend, to do things together. But I was then dragged into his closest casino at 4pm in the afternoon where we spent the rest of the day. He lives in a small town where there is not a lot to do and therefore all his friends go to the casino together. On multiple occasions I was asked to “go on a night out with him and his friends” everyone left the club early to head to the casino, where I had to sit for hours and hours watching people lose all their money.

    In second year, he stopped going to the casino as much. He started playing Poker tournaments. These tournaments were £50 at least each time. He would ask me to give him a lift, this became a habit which every single day I would drive him for some sort of tournament. He won quite a few, which meant his ego grew too, thinking he was invincible and he couldn’t lose. He started playing cash poker if he got knocked out of the tournaments early, spending hundreds in one sitting. This again is something that went on for a whole year. He spent so much money that he couldn’t afford to buy me anything for valentines and struggled with money for my birthday. I kept letting him borrow from me meaning I ran out of money myself not being able to afford my weekly food shops or being able to go out.

    At one point I really made a stand, I said how bad it was and how out of control it was. This slowly has died down as he has started a work placement and is living at home. He is no longer near the poker place or casinos. He works 9-5. This is where the online poker has become a bigger issue. He used to play online a little but not that much. Now it is all he does. He was at my family house where we were playing a board game with my family. He would go upstairs and not come back down as he was in an online poker tournament which was “important.” There are many times where he would disappear to go play online, he also has one on his phone so whenever we are watching a film with my family he starts playing.

    My dad struggled with a gambling addiction, one that I don’t remember much of as my mum would never tell me. All i know is that it got to a stage where he nearly lost our home. My dad now, is completely against it. He stays far away from it as he knows if he was to ever go back he would probably fall into a bad pattern again. There have been many times when my dad has caught my partner playing online and my partner talks about winning money quite a lot. My dad has asked me about it a few times, he sees it as worrying. To protect my partner I lie to my dad, say he plays once a month, “it’s not that bad.” It has led me to become isolated as I am stuck trying to protect my partner when knowing he also has a problem.

    He watches people play professional poker tournaments, the millionaires who have “the life.” I try to tell him this is not a reasonable aspiration as most people never reach that when gambling. It has affected our relationship so much, to the point where I don’t even know if it’s worth it anymore.

    I have lost trust in him. He will send me a message like “I am at home making dinner” and I just assume he is lying and that he’s actually playing poker. We have had so many arguments as I try and say that this is a problem but he thinks that now because he only plays online, with smaller amounts that the problem has all of a sudden vanished.

    He has compared it to smoking. When smoking, to quit people now use an E-cig to cut down until you no longer want it anymore. He says he “has it under control” as he now doesn’t lose as much or spend as much and soon it will go away. I just don’t believe that. I don’t believe something like that can just go away. I believe that things can only get worse if he keeps playing.

    I have just lost faith and trust in him. He’s been telling me for a long time that he will cut down or stop playing and nothing changes. He just lies more about as he knows I’ll be upset. He makes excuses and defends playing so much rather than noticing that I’m actually breaking from this. Whenever we argue he seems to tell me a million reasons why he hasn’t got a problem and how it’s got better instead of actually realising how upset this has all made me.

    What am i supposed to do 🙁


    Hi Selina,
    It sounds like you are a bright woman who is already aware of some of the issues associated with gambling addiction and it must be such a worry for you especially after your fathers problems. It’s great your dad is in recovery now, he could be a good person to open up to, it is a terrible trap when you start to cover the tracts for someone elses addiction whatever the reason.

    It sounds like your bf is deep in denial and I am afraid that gambling addiction is generally progress so losses and the problems associated with it tend to get greater the longer it goes on. The good thing is you have spotted the signs comparatively early on which doesn’t always happen as it is an hidden addiction which isn’t always easy to spot.

    A few steps you can take are:

    Not lend him money, give him access to money or bail him out with lifts etc because he has no money.

    Not give him lifts to or socialize in gambling activities. Tell him why if he asks but keep it calm and understated ie ‘I am not going to take you as I care about you and am worried about your gambling.

    There are many online questionnaires to test if you have a problem, you could suggest he does one (even if he thinks he is doing it to prove you wrong).

    Try to keep calm and not get personal if you are talking about the problem, shouting, accusing, name calling, and ultimatums generally don’t work. Fostering an atmosphere of care and trust will be more likely to help him open up when/if he is ready to.

    Tell someone of your concerns, don’t be alone with this.

    Do you have a close relationship with his mother? Has she voiced concerns? I wouldn’t suggest going too her behind his back and telling her straight but you could open a dialogue perhaps where maybe she would talk to you?

    Do things together that are fun for him but don’t include gambling, spending time together having fun may help him step outside his gambling bubble for a bit.

    Learn about gambling addiction and continue to seek help as you are doing now.

    Most of all take care of you, try not to worry all the time about him, take time out to spend with your friends.

    These are just some lose suggestions, I posted a list of tips on the forum I found on another site the other day which also has some good suggestions, the post is called ‘some useful tips for friends and family’.

    Keep posting and let us know how you are getting on, there is always someone here to listen. Lily x


    Hi Selina,

    It sounds to me like you boyfriend is in denial. Gambling is never under control no matter how many times we say it to ourselves, and only has a tendency to get worse. Believe me I have been through all that myself.

    The first thing I would advise him to do is to self exclude from all online betting, if not there is blocking software available that he can put on his PC which will prevent him from gambling further. It needs to stop now. If he invites you to the casino say no, and don’t let him go either, and be aware of betting shops too, maybe he doesn’t use them, but they are everywhere and are very,very dangerous places for a Compulsive Gambler.

    I am a recovering compulsive gambler myself and have been battling this terrible addiction for over a decade, I too lived in denial for years, convincing myself it was only a flutter here and there, “no harm done” but ofcourse things would escalate and I would find myself chasing another 10 grand. I had complete disregard for everyone around me and as a consequence my loved ones suffered not just financially but emotionally too. A lot of damage can be done with this “no harm done” it’s “only a bit of fun” kind of attitude.

    Please ask your boyfriend to seek help, he clearly has a problem.
    Maybe your dad can help, his experience would be very useful, and maybe he would listen to your dad.

    You made the right decision to come on this site, read other people’s posts, perhaps join one of the discussion groups for friends and family of addicts, I am sure it would help you.

    Regards, and keep posting !




    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
    privacy policy and  terms and conditions so you know how it all works!


    Hi Selina
    It seems to me from reading your post that your Dad is a terrific source o9f support for you. He is already worried and is probably reading all the signs while believing that you are unable to see what is happening. I suggest that your mother hasn’t talked for exactly the same reason you are holding back.
    It is easier to bury our heads in the sand and that is so for the CG (compulsive gambler) too – facing something like a gambling addiction is not something any of us expect to face – CG and F&F alike. It take great courage on the part of the CG to face their addiction and those who love them unwittingly enable through ignorance of something that is indeed very scary– I am not judging as I enabled for 25 years.
    Your words tell a common story of an addiction that is building in strength because he is not addressing it and he has not felt the pain of his behaviour yet. Arguing is pointless because trying to make sense of the senseless will only cause you to worry and lose your confidence and self-esteem.
    The 20 questions posed on the Gamblers anonymous web site could possibly help your partner to see he is not alone and that there is help for him. Maybe your could download them and leave them for him to see – he may well screw them up and throw them away but at least he would know that you are taking his addiction seriously even if he is not. I suggest leaving them for him to see rather than presenting them to him which would probably only result in him loudly protesting that he is not addicted.
    Maybe you could ask your father how he controlled his addiction – any support and suggestions of ways forward is good. The addiction to gamble thrives on secrecy to get maximum enablement and it can leave those who love the CG feeling very isolated.
    It would be great to communicate with you in real time on Thursday between 20.00-21.00 hours UK time. Just click on the Helpline, scroll down to F&F group and click on ‘join’.
    Finally Selina, I wouldn’t be writing to you if I didn’t know the addiction to gamble couldn’t be controlled and wonderful lives lived. Unfortunately your partner can only save himself, you cannot save him,
    Look after ‘you’.

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