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    So hurt. I’ve been coming to this site for over a year. How I wish I had found it years ago when I was dealing with my estranged husband who spent and continues to deny a gambling problem.

    Now my son has been gambling, although will not admit that he has ANY problem. He started college in Sept 2015 after a couple of strange ilness complaints everything went off the rails in May 2016.

    I became aware of a betting diary that he was keeping in which it was clear that he was beting more than he was earning – but he was winning. When I confronted him, I didn’t understand and he was far more clever than other Gamblers……. I know sounds funny but from previous experience with his Dad I knew not to laugh as it would soon end in tears……

    As usual the tears arrived from his girlfriend arriving at my job, crying that he had split with her, said he was finished with College and basically felt depressed and worthless (considering talking tablets to end his life).
    I talked to him, with all the tablets of the house in my handbag each day going to work & spending my 40min lunch break driving up and down to check he was ok. (No time left to eat anything myself).
    That mood lasted for 3/4 days, during which time I tried pleading with him, threatening and bribing to get him to go to counselling. Making appointments that he then refused to attend.
    In desperation I telephoned his Dad (surely I thought naievely he would not let his Son go through this). I was shocked and disgusted by his reply “a few bets is just his way of letting off steam, because you forced him into going to college”.

    Over the Summer he seemed to get back to his normal self, although in hindsight eventhough he denied gambling I did suspect there may have been something?
    He went back to College, but only went in for afternoon lectures and began to get uninterested in anything (including personal hygiene) except sport. After several attempts to talk to him ending in strops I had a little Noisy in his room and found betting slips – stupid bets to try and chase a loss. Unfortuately I know from previous experience and information I learned at GA meetings that I went to few years ago when I was dealing with his Dad. My lasting memory from those meetings was a lovely couple who’s Son (36) was the GS. I came out of the meeting crying for them and determind to protect my kids. That doesn’t seem to have worked.

    Anway I talked to my Son last Sunday and he admitted that he had been doing some stupid gambling and taken all of his college savings out of the a/c. He claimed to still have most of it that he put into another a/c for safe keeping – I wanted to believe him, so I said I would take him to the bank last Monday to get a statement to prove to me.

    When I came back from the school run he was gone (to College). He has not been home since and is staying at his Dads. I spoke to his girlfriend and she confirmed the gambling and large stupid amounts. He has asked her to take control of his bank a/c as a restriction.
    Unable to bring myself to contact his Dad I sent a message to his older brother (we are not on best of terms as I told him to move to his Dads last year after some aggressive behaviour towards me) I asked him to have a chat and see if he could persuade him to get some professional help.
    This brought an onslaught of abuse from my CG Son with a barrage of insulting, abusive text messages. I know from the F&F site this is normal reaction to those that you are closest to but OMG it hurts like no other pain I’ve ever felt. Tonight my daughter advised that he had booked a trip to Paris with his GF in Febuary. A distraction I guess to keep her on board and hide his secrets.
    As she is only 19 I’ve contacted her parents to try and meet them and advise them of the problems, but they claim to be busy this week. This also brought a nasty text this evening from him, telling me to stay out of his life.
    I’m sorry this is so long but it does feel good to see it all written down so I know I’m not as Batshit crazy as he says!
    I would welcome any suggestions on where to go from here?
    Missing my boy 🙁



    Hello Redare

    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


    I’ve gotten a lot of information from the site and especially the F&F stories.
    At this point I think I have to look after myself and wait till he is ready as forcing the problem is only causing a wedge between us which is more painful than the problem.
    I’ve advised (tried to) those within the families and that is really as much as I can do at this point.
    I LOVE my Son dearly but cannot continue to be abused (verbally) by the Gambler.
    Thanks again for your messages.


    Hi Redare
    I have read your latest post but I want to respond to your initial post because although the addiction is the same, each person who asks for support is an individual and maybe something in my reply will resonate in a different way from all you have read.
    There is no evidence to support the compulsion to gamble being hereditary regardless of what a recent rather inflammatory newspaper stated. The problem for your son has almost certainly come from learned behaviour and sadly his father is a poor role model for him.
    I have heard the old chestnut that ‘I am cleverer than the other gamblers’ before and likewise in response to GA meetings ‘I am not as bad as the other people there’. It is of course delusional but he doesn’t sound ready to listen yet.
    I have also heard before the response his father gave when you sought support from him and like you I find it abhorrent but at least now you know there will be no support coming from that quarter.
    You did well last Sunday having what appeared to be a reasonable conversation but there obviously was nothing in your sons’ account so he is avoiding you. I think it is best when you are faced with an active CG not to believe anything they say and that way you will not be drawn in to making suggestions such as accompanying him to the bank when you don’t believe him anyway and which only exacerbates his addiction.
    Is his girlfriend willing to take control of his finances? It will be difficult for her to do so but CGs who want to control their addictions often ask for such support. Unfortunately many CGs get nasty if their addiction is triggered and they ask for money to gamble which they say is rightfully theirs – she may well need support with this.
    Nasty text or not you, did a brave and generous thing advising his girlfriend’s parent’s that your son has a problem – I think many parents would be grateful for a warning such as this. Maybe they are busy but in my experience many people just don’t want to know about the problem and prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist or it exists only in other people lives. Whatever the outcome you did you all you could to protect their daughter.
    You are certainly not crazy.
    You ask where can you go from here, well I think you are doing the right thing – you are posting here, reading other stories, gaining knowledge and learning that you are very important and not responsible for your son’s addiction.
    You couldn’t protect your son from what has happened, you never stood a chance so please don’t beat yourself up. I went through thousands of ‘maybes’. ‘what ifs’, ‘if onlys’ and they didn’t make a scrap of difference. Now in control of his addiction my CG tells me that I did all the wrong things for all the right reasons but what mother doesn’t try and do things for the right reasons?
    Keep posting, pop into the F&F group on Tuesdays between 20.00 and 21.00 UK time where we can talk in real time. I will try and answer anything you care to ask me. Maybe you could return to the Gamanon group you went to before.
    Speak soon


    Hi Velvet
    Thank you for your kind words which happened to coincide with the same words from a work colleague.
    Unfortunately it did not stop the tears from flowing yesterday as they have done since Friday. However today is a new day and I’m hoping not to cry.
    I’m very lucky to have wonderful support from my Sister (albeit from a distance) the only thing missing is a physical hug 🙂
    Of course I like the gambler, I need someone to blame – other than my beautiful Son, so God is taking the rap. Wondering why? Again? But in stronger moments I realise there are people with bigger crosses to bare, loosing their children to other more devastating illnesses. At least there is a cure for my Son, if he wants to take it.
    I’ve heard nothing from my Son since and am trying not to text him even to say Goodnight I Love you, which I miss.
    Thanks again.


    Hi Redare
    I appreciate what you are saying that other people have greater crosses to bear but I don’t think weighing one pain against another helps – this is your son, your life, your pain and that is why you are here for support just for you.
    I cannot tell you what to do but I believe that it is important for F&F to be totally honest with CGs. You say you love your son and in my opinion texting ‘Goodnight, I love you’ is not only a kind thing to do but a positive, truthful thing to do. He may well delete your words, he may well scorn them, he may well tell you not to do it again – but our children can and do hurt us and as mothers we often have to see beyond our pain – if it was me I would text those same three words regardless of his response or lack of response.
    In my opinion, the three small words that you have said to your son since the day he was born are enough and are powerful. What I would not do is write more than those few words because they can be twisted to suit his distorted perception. I wrote a letter full of love, hope and expectation. I learned later that he had read it a thousand times, it was wet with tears, screwed up and torn, thrown away, found, re-read, screwed up but it was never read as I had intended it – his mind, distorted by addiction, only read that I saw him as a failure and a disappointment. It is why I often say that the strangest thing I found about my CG controlling his addiction was that he had to learn to trust me more so than the other way round.
    I wish you well and hope you keep posting. I also hope you will pop in to the group tonight it would be good to ‘talk’ in real time.


    Hi Velvet,
    The link seemed to collapse?


    Hi Red
    Not sure what happened but if you leave in the last 5 or 10 mins (not sure which) I know you can’t get back in.
    It was good to talk though and I hope it helped
    I will leave you with my favourite version of the Serenity Prayer

    God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change
    Courage to change the thing that I can
    And Wisdom to know it is me.




    Hi Velvet,
    Just an update as I had a text message from my Son, looking to come home to collect some stuff.
    After my initial delight I suggested with meet in our local coffee shop for a quick chat before he came to the house. He refused saying there was nothing to talk about. I explained that we need to have a chat before he could come home and he got quite angry – it’s my stuff, it’s illegal for you to keep it etc.
    We are are a stalemate now. I’m worried that he is going to arrive angry and have thought of asking a neighbour to be here when he arrives or just let him come in, take what he needs and leave again? Any suggestions?
    Also contacted my ex Mother in Law to try and meet and advise her of the situation. That was a NO as she stated she would speak to her CG Son.
    Feeling exhausted.


    Hi Red
    Well you know not to c o u n t on your ex MIL for support so I suggest you put her firmly out of your mind.
    I wasn’t sure how to answer you at first and then I remembered a conversation that I had with my CG when he was finally able to explain to me some of the things that I said that didn’t make a scrap of difference to him but that I had thought at the time were positive words.
    I told him I needed him to be honest, that he could tell me whatever was worrying him, I told him I needed him to get help, I told him I needed him to talk to me. He was finally able to tell me that all the time I was telling his needs they were not his needs at all, they were mine – his need was to gamble and to avoid anything that prevented that gamble.
    I am so sorry that your delight turned to ashes but it seems to me that removing the word ‘need’ can help us say the right thing. Even now after all these years I find myself stopping when I go to use the word in any situation.
    I have to post this without really giving it the thought I would like to as I am on way out for the evening but I wanted to give you a quick reply and to wish you well when you see your son.
    I will look for an update tomorrow


    Hi Velvet,
    I met my Son and his Girlfriend in the Coffee Shop. It was a difficult Cuppa as he is very angry at me for ruining his life. I have done this by telling people lies about him having financial & Medical problems, particularly his Grandparents as they are 70 yrs old.
    He did admit that he has done a bit of gamling, but having not placed a bet in 3 weeks (incorrect but I didn’t argue the timeframe) he does not have a problem. I congratulated him on this and said I was very happy he had been able to stop for now. He stated (repeatedly) that he did not owe anybody money and showed me his bank balance with €1.023 in it as he had just been paid his wages. I showed hm letters from college and medical which were debts and medical Apts.
    The rest of the college savings had been spent on a trip to Paris in Feb for him & his GF. No sign of the remaining balance of €2K because I can’t do maths.
    He kept calling me Mad, and when I asked his GF if she thought I was mad she said no, to which he claimed was because I intimidated her, again she denied this. She was unable to anser if she thought he had a gambling problem. The other things that he threw out were intended to hurt (and did): Dad is easier to talk to, You push people away, You won’t listen to me, Your selfish and a need Drama!
    The chat ended by him telling me I would realise in 2 months time how wrong I was. I left saying I hoped there would be a realisation on his part.
    He came around to the house and got some of his clothes and the tears flowed from me.
    Again stating that it was all my fault and that he would not be alive were it not for his GF.
    I agreed that I was to blame for his anger right now at others knowing he was gambling but not to blame for his gambling this problem was in his life because he chose to do it.
    He went straight to see my Mum (76) who lives alone & has altzheimers to tell her he was unale to stay at home as I was spreading lies about him. She was very upset & confused.
    I continue to tell him I love him by text (every night) with a simple reply from him of “Night” a small word which is much appreciated 🙂


    Hi Redare,
    I just read your post . I have a “failure to thrive ” son, now in his middle 20s, who began to display the anger and blame behaviour in his mid teens . At the time I put it down to “bad company”, a “phase he will pass through” etc etc. Long story short, he never changed.
    He is not a gambler. He has “other issues”.
    In this case, I am the CG.
    Reading your post about him coming home full of anger , put the heart crossways in me, because that is exactly what my son has done over and over for ten years. He would cause chaos at home. Because I was the only person who challenged him , I was always blamed and he succeeded in turning the family against me every time he had a “flare up”. It always ended with me running to the casino and he would then put his feet up , turn on the TV and enjoy all the homecooking while I stuffed my emotions and money into slot machines. Turned out of my own home by a bully! How crazy is that!
    The reason I am telling you all this, is to point out that some of your son’s behaviour may be due to gambling. Other aspects may not. I know lots of CGs who created situations (rows) with family as an excuse to run and gamble ( I did my share of that) but not every CG is aggressive and threatening like your son and mine. Gambling is no excuse for bad behaviour and by saying it is, directly excuses this behaviour.
    Mothers pick up the tab for their “children” far too quickly. Of course I used to blame my gambling for my son’s behaviour but when I thought of it rationally, I am NOT to blame when he comes home, bullying and terrorizing everybody. He is a bully and bullies use the classic “divide and conquer” method to isolate family members, turning one against the other, and will always have a scapegoat.
    From what you say, you are your son’s scapegoat as I was and still am potentially for mine.
    I used to text my son every night too. Seldom got a reply. I used to beg him to come home. It always ended in uproar. I used to go to places he lived/worked just to see from a distance if he was wearing warm clothes, shoes in case he was neglecting himself. I gave him money which was never fully paid back. I used to meet him in neutral venues. More often than not there was a mix up with time or place (always my fault of course) Always ended with him causing a dreadful scene. I talked to him. Pleaded. Appealed to his better nature. I offered to pay for anger management for him. Another flop. He has his father so scared that he defends him and his brother hates conflict so he is an easy target. Like you, I am the punchbag and for as long as I continue to play this part, my son will have a licence to act out and treat me badly. The only person I can change is myself.
    Changing the dynamic can make a huge difference. These days, I limit my contact with my son. I send only occasional texts and calls. (Mainly no reply.) If and when he does condescend to make contact, I tell him I am delighted to hear from him (true) Ask a few basic questions ( to avoid being accused of “pressing the wrong buttons”) Invite him home (saying T and Cs apply). Arrange short visits only. Always try to have extra people here to prevent him isolating me . Ask his father NOT to make any arrangements for home visits behind my back. Have my finger on the “end call” button or my bedroom door key ready ( to lock myself in) if he starts his antics in the home. I have also stopped covering up for him to the extended family. If they ask “where/how is %”, I tell it as it is.
    What will be the end of all this? Nobody knows! In my case I cannot allow my son to push me back into gambling to escape his totally unacceptable behaviour. That’s my only certainty. I can’t change him. I can’t change others’ reaction to how he behaves. ( I tried)
    You , too will have to devise a strategy to protect yourself, keeping in mind that gambling may be playing a part in your son’s carry on. Of course he is angry with you. You played a part in spoiling his fun. While he is sorting himself out, I would suggest you give him a very wide berth and not jump to attention every time he wants to call the shots or attempts to control / manipulate you.
    Do not let him ruin your peace .
    GAMANON might be helpful for you . Have you tried it?


    Hi Vera,
    Thank you for your post. Behaviour of course can be influenced by those around us and the situations. However the choice of how to handle or react is our choice alone. In the past I have too have not always reacted as well as I would have liked in hindsight Tyring to help and protect everyone except myself.
    Saying no, that behaviour is not acceptable is the first step in no longer being an enabler.
    I have learned from the F&F cycle to expect the anger my Son is showing as it is not him but the Gambler (addiction) who is being challenged.
    Unfortunately behaviour is learned and after a long time of watching his mother being treated poorly and accepting it from my CG ex it comes as a bit of a shock to all when you find the strength to say ENOUGH…..
    bullies use the classic “divide and conquer” method to isolate family members, turning one against the other, and will always have a scapegoat. This is so true and why it is so important to speak out and not keep things a secret.
    I hope your son (and mine) realise and admit what they have done wrong.
    Gamanon was something I tried when dealing with my ex, but I do find this site very helpful.
    Best of luck with controlling your CG and well done on getting it under control.


    Hi Red
    Everything you have written chimes with my experience of compulsive gambling and the experiences of so many other F&F families I have known who have lived with an active CG..
    My CG admitted I was his target because I was the closest and probably the easiest.
    The anger intensified as the addiction got worse and just before he took the leap of faith and went into rehab it raged at its worst ever. I thought his behaviour meant many things but I never really believed it was the addiction that was causing his aggression and threatening behaviour.
    When he went on the GMA programme, I admit I thought he was looking for a roof over his head and being entirely honest I was glad he had one that didn’t involve me – someone else could have the worry of him for, (what was at that time), 9 months. I expected him to be thrown out every day when they uncovered the fact that a simple thing like gambling could not turn this boy into someone so unpleasant. I am so glad that I was wrong and that those who could stand back from the frae could see that he was indeed a CG.
    I think it is important not to to be distracted from that which appears to be a reasonable assumption with your son. Did he accompany your ex when he gambled? Did he see his father treating you badly?
    I am wondering how the holiday in Paris will go – his girlfriend must be at the very least a little concerned but you can do no more.
    During the time that he is estranged from you make the most of your hobbies and interests, keep friendships alive. I feel that when those around the CG give up everything because of thinking about their loved one 24 hours a day then the only winner is the addiction. Your son is not his father however much his behaviour seems to say otherwise. Keep those texts going and keep posting.


    Hi Red
    As promised I have brought up my thread on ‘siblings’ for you – I hope it helps.
    I have just written to P outlining the way of coping with the beast that is gambling but I told you I would let you know the method too, some of it will be the same as P but I do try and write uniquely to every individual.
    The beast is the addiction and it is in the room every time you talk to your son. As long as you are not questioning him about his gambling or suggesting ways he could/should change he will be easier to talk to.
    Conditions rarely work – my CG told me that whereas my need was for him to stop lying and hurting me, his need was to gamble. I hope the following will help you.
    Imagine your son’s addiction is a slavering beast in the corner of the room. Every time you speak to him, his addiction is awake, poised and ready to jump – but as long as you keep your cool and don’t threaten it, it will stay in the corner, growling quietly – but never forget, it is always there and listening.
    The good news is that although your son is controlled by his addiction, you are not; you can gain knowledge and be one step ahead. When you threaten his addiction with conditions, his addiction will leap between you and control the conversation, probably turning it into an argument. His addiction is the master of threats and manipulation but you are not and nor do you want, or need, to be. Once the addiction beast is between you, you will not hear your son, you will only hear his addiction – and because it knows only lies and deceit, it will seek to make you feel blame and demoralize you. In turn, when you speak to your son, his addiction is distorting your words, drastically altering reality to fit his personal perception – he will not be able to comprehend your meaning.
    My CG explained this to me. The addiction to gamble is an addiction of constant failure and misery so your son really believes (whatever you say) that he is completely worthless. Because he ‘believes’ he is no good, it follows that you must be lying when you tell him you love him, or that his life would be better if he stopped gambling – why would you love someone so worthless? Believing himself to be without worth your son will fight back with distortion and deception because sadly, at the moment, he doesn’t have or know any other coping mechanism.
    In my opinion, you could be wasting valuable energy trying to believe that for now, while he is being heavily influenced (it appears) by another, your son will be different. I believe it would be good, although really difficult, to try and ‘not’ believe him at the moment because in doing so you will become receptive. Stand back a bit and listen to what he is saying – hopefully it will become easier to stay out of 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.
    I hope the plan for this weekend goes ahead. I hope you and your son will communicate and I further hope that beneath all the bravado he is aware that his father’s way of life is not the best way, although I suggest it is best not to compare them in any way.
    Children see more than parents imagine but they would struggle to see the whole picture. A child with the addiction to gamble is of course unable to communicate well – they have a terrible addiction that they feel needs to be protected but the other children are often the wreckage that accompanies the addiction – they see and they make judgements based on how it affects them and their place in the hierarchy. I think it is an incredibly difficult balancing act.
    Keep posting and keep sending those texts
    I wish you and all your children well

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