Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family First time – my mother has a gambling problem

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    Hi there, this is the first time I’ve ever posted in a forum with regards to my mother’s gambling problem. Hopefully this is the first step to me helping her. Sorry for the incredibly long post but this is the first time I’ve ever really told the full story.

    I suspect my mother started gambling around 2011, but in 2012 it became apparent to me that what I thought was her just having some fun was a real problem. I should have picked up the signs earlier… she’d come home and talk to us about how she’d worked out all the numbers that were lucky, which numbers were the right ones on the roulette table and machines. Thought I thought it was excessive, I didn’t think much to it…

    I can’t remember what lead me to finding her in a bookmakers once, glued to a roulette machine, but there I found her. She refused to leave saying she just needed to win her money back. Once she’d lost it all we went home where she proceeded to get more money out the safe, we couldn’t stop her from leaving the house and taking the money. It’s like she was possessed! A few hours later she returns and admits to having lost over £1500. She broke down, crying, hysterical. Yet later she “leaves” and goes to a casino to try and chase the losses….
    I’m ashamed to say I don’t really know what happened then, because I moved away for university, but I know that her partner bailed her out but I’m unsure on the amount.
    What matters though is that she was clean.

    Until this year, 2016. New Year’s Eve she goes to a casino with some friends and wins £30. The thrill of winning! She tells me she visited, and I told her that’s all it is–a bit of fun and ask her not to go again. Of course, she agrees.
    But the thrill and adrenaline of winning has latched onto her again. A few weeks after this, I accompany her to an appointment and she admits to me she hasn’t slept all night and was out at the casino. She just about left in the green. I asked her why, and we rationalise and she promises never to go again and she makes me promise not to tell her partner (because of the way he bailed her out last time).
    A few weeks later, her partner phones me around 10pm asking where my mum is as he can’t get hold of her. I immediately know where she is. I phone her and immediately she answers, I ask her where she is and she becomes very defensive. On this occasion I had actually lied to her partner on her behalf… and yet again on the phone she apologises and promises never to go there again.
    Another incident, she comes home at 3AM. This behaviour is uncharacteristic of her, as she is not an advocate of staying out late – especially not when she has work at 9AM in the morning!! I knowingly ask her where she’s been, she’s extremely aggressive and defensive and tries to change the subject. We have a huge argument and once more, a long talk and she promises not to go.

    Last weekend, her partner phones me just past midnight asking if my mum is there as he can’t get a hold of her again. I tell him I’ll try phoning her. She doesn’t answer. I phone a few casinos asking of her wehereabouts, but they refuse to tell me because of data protection. Fine. So I drive to the casino and find her in one. She is very shocked to see me and asks what I’m doing here. Eventually I get her to leave. The next day I discover she lied to me about how much money she’d withdrawn and lost (I found her card receipts in the bin). She’d withdrawn £900 and only won back £380. I’m very angry at her at this point and I can’t believe she doesn’t feel embarrassed at having me personally go look for her in the casino!!! I have taken her cards away from her, and she admits she’s overdrawn in her bank account, so I transfer some money to her bank account to make sure she’s positive. She promises never to go again.

    Wednesday this week, she opens the conversation with “you shouldn’t have come looking for me. I know what I’m doing. But you’re right, casinos are no places to go. They’re not fun, people there have no sense.” we have a serious talk and heart-to-heart. She promises never to go again. We hug each other crying.

    Then last night, she comes home on three separate occasions. It’s midnight and I catch her this time, taking money out the safe. We argue and as with each time previously she tells me “she knows what’s she’s doing, to give her HER money” etc. I can’t stop her, she leaves but I retain some money. Then at 3AM, she comes storming upstairs into my room demanding I give her the rest of her money. I say no, look at yourself this is insane. You’ve lost so much already. £900 last week, £700 tonight. STOP! She stomps her feet, yells at me, promises me this is the last time and to just give her the money!!! I yield in to this person I no longer recognize…
    My mum phoned me only a few hours ago, to apologise for causing me more stress during this demanding period during my studies. My dissertation is due in two days but I’ve just put in a request for extenuating circumstances for an extension. She said that last night she observed the people at the casino and how they looked when they lost, how much time they were all there for… and she said she’s going to stop. She said she’s cut up all her casino cards. She says she’s accepted the losses and knows she can’t win it back. I don’t know if to believe her. She keeps asking me to trust her. How can I when she’s broken my trust SO many times!!
    I want to believe her so badly, I really do. She’s gambled away £1900 in one week alone. That’s two months’ worth of paychecks for her!! She’s a single parent working in a supermarket. I quit my job last month in order to focus on my studies. My brother is unemployed too. The reason she gambles is because of money issues, she always just about makes it every month on top of the support her partner provides her. She has no disposable income. I don’t know what to do from now.
    I’m so angry, upset, confused, in doubt?! And STRESSED! I need time to speak to her, yet she works 6 days a week and recently I’ve been so focused on my studies I haven’t had time to speak to her or help her, which makes me feel very guilty. I think my brother’s unemployment (he hasn’t had a job in two years) is a real source of frustration for her, and for me too. Yet he’s not trying hard enough…but that’s an issue for another forum.

    Again sorry for the long post and many thanks for reading if you get this far!!

    Do you think she’ll relapse again? If so how can I spot the signs? What can I do to help her now??


    I am the mom of a compulsive gambler. Good on you for coming here and trying to get help/support. I can tell from your post that you have all the “normal” feelings of being a family member of a CG… anger,fear, confusion and probably the biggest one- FRUSTRATION!!
    This is a very tough and unrelenting addiction. Once it has it’s hooks in someone it is not an easy journey for anybody involved. While your mom will never be cured it can absolutely be controlled. The hard part for those that love her is that only she can get herself to that point.
    I think it is time you shared this with her partner. This is too much for you to look after and it’s not fair. Addiction thrives on secrecy so if you can talk with your mom and her partner and come up with a plan to protect her money that would be a great start.
    Unfortunately this addiction doesn’t just start out of nowhere and it will not just disappear over night. I know your mom says she is done with gambling and I am sure she really means it right now but realistically from what you write she isn’t there yet so yes I’m afraid she will probably relapse. This doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to stop and there is no hope but she is just starting her journey.
    To help her I would try being honest with her and not let her be dishonest with you. We have a habit of walking on eggshells around a CG as they can quite easily convince us that it is us who are nuts.
    There is a thread on here called the F&F cycle. Have a look at that. Maybe if possible you could find a Gam Anon group … it can be invaluable providing you some much needed advice and support.
    At the end of the day this is not your problem to fix. Please don’t feel guilty – you are young and have your studies and your life to live. You can support her but should not be putting more work into this than your mom.

    Please take care 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 Hello
    Well done starting what must be a difficult thread for you – rest assured, the first post is the hardest. I hope you will soon feel a lot clearer about the course of action that is right for you.
    Worriedmama has mentioned the F&F Cycle so I have brought it up beside this post for you.
    The addiction to gamble thrives on secrecy and is divisive. CGs ( compulsive gamblers) often want their addiction kept secret to that they can get enablement from other unwitting sources; it is possible, therefore, that your mother’s partner is aware that your mother is actively gambling and is keeping her secret from you. It is possible that he will have observed her poor behaviour, as you have – it is this which upsets F&F more than any loss of money.
    However, whether her partner knows, or not, the secret you are keeping must be weighing heavily upon you and you don’t deserve it. Your mother can’t trust herself so there is no reason for you to feel you have to try and trust her, in fact to do so would be very unwise for your sake and hers.
    I cannot tell you what to do because all decisions must be yours. I suggest you keep posting and gaining knowledge about your mother’s addiction so that you can make informed decisions about what you are going to do. If it was me I would tell her that I had sought help and as a result I would not enable her addiction ever again. She may appear to accept what you say and possibly make more promises to stop gambling but as her addiction is neither logical nor rational her good intentions will fly immediately out of the window unless she seeks the right support.
    The good news is that there is lots of support for your mother. I know you want to save her but the simple truth is you cannot – only she can do that – the best help you can give her is not to enable her addiction by giving her money or clearing her debts because giving money to a CG is the same as giving a drink to an alcoholic. I believe one of the greatest supports F&F can give their CG loved one is to show them where good support is to be found. GA (Gamblers Anonymous) is an amazing organisation from where she would get the support she needs. We have CG only groups on this site and a one-to-one Helpline where she can talk privately. There are also fantastic rehabs.
    I have an F&F group tomorrow evening 20.00-21.00 hours UK time where you would be very welcome and where we can communicate in real time – nothing said in the group appears on the forum.
    There is a lot more to be said Hello but I will leave it there because I remember how hard it was to take all the information in at the beginning of my own journey.
    Please write as much or as little as you wish – you will always be heard and understood.

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