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    Can’t cope

    I first knew my son was gambling when he was 15 and had drained my bank account of £2000 using online gambling sites. Since then he has also started smoking weed and is now addicted to that too. He is now 18 and dropped out of his A’level’s twice. He started an apprenticeship and within 6 weeks he got himself signed of work as he had gambled all his wages and was depressed.
    In all honesty I think he has suffered with mental health issues for at least as long as he has been gambling. Which came first is a bit chicken and egg.
    Last year he trashed my home because I wouldn’t give give him money and he is constantly abusive towards me.
    I have made a stand and told him that I will not give him or lend him any money. He has since become like Jeckell and Hyde, one minute apologising for everything he has done and the next laughing manically me and verbally abusing me.
    He tries every trick in the book to try and get money from me. He will cry, beg, shout, scream. Then he says things like ‘I have been begging for 6 hours’ , as if to say I should be giving in.
    He constantly accuses me of trying to push him to suicide because I am showing no understanding of how he feels and that I am not supporting or helping him.
    I don’t believe a word he says and where by I once felt guilty for that I now feel so angry.
    I know I have tried everything to ‘help’ him when ultimately I have enabled him to continue gambling and smoking weed.
    He constant mood changes scare me especially when he tells me that he will try to stop gambling but loves the weed to much.
    He doesn’t seem to have any emotional attachment to me, I feel he sees me as an ATM. He is very narcissistic, he never sees anything from anyone else point of view.
    I cannot get through to him.
    He tried to ‘commit suicide’, as soon as I arrived at the hospital he asked me for money to pay of drug and gambling debts. He since told me he did it to manipulate He will stop at nothing.
    I have taken him to the doctors on several occasions after he has been a jibbering wreck but as soon as we get there he becomes a calm intelligent and reasonable person.
    Last night he was becoming abusive and threatening to hurt me and his brothers. When I told him I would call the police he laughed and told me how he would behave in a way that would make me look stupid for calling them. His manipulation is horrendous.
    The stress he is putting on me and his youngest brother is unbearable. HIs middle brother enables him by lying for him and thinks he is helping.
    I am sorry if this is a jumbled mess of waffle but I don’t know what to do anymore.
    I have even thought about getting him sectioned – is that wrong?


    Hi Cant cope

    It turns my stomach reading your post.

    I am a CG, (compulsive gambler), myself and not best placed to offer you any guidance, but as the forums tend to be a bit quiet at the weekend, thought I’d just let you know someone was reading and somebody cares.

    I am a fifty year old bloke, and like your son, I was gambling at 18. In those days there was no internet but I stole, lied, cheated, and cruelly manipulated my family to get gambling money.

    I also heavily smoked weed but didn’t start that until much much later.

    The reason I’m writing this isn’t to tell you how bad I was, but to let you know that you are definitely doing the right thing by not enabling him. There is hope.

    I don’t gamble at all now but to get to this stage in my life where I actually am happy has taken a very long time.

    I don’t think its wrong of you to want to get him sectioned and completely understand why, however the choice of whether he would get sectioned or not is ultimately down to the mental health services. Unfortunately though I do not think that would help him in any way, and may even lead to worse problems.

    As you are probably aware an addict of any description will not kick the addiction in to touch until they seek out help for themselves. This will not usually happen until they admit they have a problem that needs addressing. Some say this only happens when an addict reaches rock bottom. In my life I have been to prison 5 times, several psychiatric hospitals, lived on the street and been involved in some hideous crimes. Although I first heard about this place Rock Bottom at a GA meeting when I was 16 or 17 I don’t think I ever really believed I had gotten there. (I was going to GA in those days to please my parents).

    I’m sure you will have read the posts on this forum, and know that you’re not alone with this.

    There is hope. Although it has taken me such a long time to sort myself out, there is a lot more awareness of problem gambling these days, and lots of places that could help your son, when hes ready.

    If you think your middle son is mature enough to grasp that gambling is a major problem and he genuinely wants to help the eldest, then maybe you could show him this website. Maybe he’ll realise that by lying for him he is enabling and therefore prolonging the addictions.

    You are right when you say its a chicken and egg situation regarding gambling and mental health, but I do know that the gambling can be sorted.

    I cant advise you on anything I’m afraid, just wanted to let you know you’ve been heard.

    I don’t know if your son has been in trouble with the police before, if not you might consider bringing historical charges against him for using your bank card? Maybe the shock of being arrested and locked up might be his rock bottom, it is for some.

    Please please don’t give up hope. Your son didn’t ask for this addiction as much as you never, like most conditions in life some people get it and some don’t.

    You are definitely doing the right thing by not enabling him.

    One thing I can be certain of is that you will get great support on this forum, please, for your own sake (and sanity!), keep checking.

    Take Care.


    Can’t cope

    Thank you for your reply Geordie
    It has been such a long journey already and I am struggling to stay strong with him.
    From the moment he wakes up he is text me at work. I ignore him but end up with hundreds of messages asking why I am ignoring him. The job is new and there is a lot of training to do and its very hard to focus when he is behaving like this.
    From the minute I get in from work he is pestering me for money. His mood changing from sad and apologetic to menacing and cruel and back again until I finally try and go to sleep.
    I say sleep but I don’t, the stress of all this plays on my mind so heavily.
    I know he needs to be ready to change and he tells me he is but it is always another way of manipulating me trying to get more money. Today he accused me of trying to force him into committing suicide because he feels I hate him so much.
    Its so tiring.



    Hello CC

    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!


    I don’t know if you’re aware but gamcare do have a support line that is open late, maybe 24hrs. If things become unbearable it may help to ring them.

    It may help you if you can record his violent and aggressive behaviour, as well as keep the texts just in case you do end up asking to get him sectioned. Gamblers are the masters of deceit and manipulation as you know.

    I’m getting ready for work now and really wish I could be more help to you.

    Hopefully another F+F user will see your thread and offer you some useful support shortly.

    Take care.



    Your son needs outside help. From my experience of trying to placate a wayward son (mine is not a CG, he has other “issues” similar to your lad, though)all the help I gave was rejected. Perhaps you should have a word with your GP and ask to be referred for Family Counselling. It would help you to distance yourself from your son’s behaviour (I was subjected to years of abuse from my darling boy) and your other children will be made aware of what they need to do. Learning to cope with that carry on is essential for your mental and physical help. I am a compulsive gambler. Therefore I blamed myself and allowed my son to accuse me of many things I was not guilty of.
    Now is he going through a phase of pretending his parents don’t exist. I haven’t seen him for six months. It is not an ideal situation but at least I have peace in the home. It has been well over a year since I last gambled.
    Of course parents will always worry about their “children”.
    Using suicide as a threat is very common. Personally, I would not ignore that threat. I would suggest you contact the MH services if your son is expressing suicidal ideation.
    Nobody has the right to abuse you in your own home. It took me a long time to stop pleading with my son to come home. It always ended in him exploding and me escaping to the casino. I do not blame him in any way for my gambling but I also refuse to allow him to blame me for his problems.
    Until you take steps to put a stop to tolerating your son’s abuse, it will continue.
    Well done on coming here seeking help. Keep posting.


    Hi CC
    I read your post late last night and have been thinking about it ever since in the hope that I can give you a reply that will support you in the right way.
    It is hard to know with mental health what comes first but as you say he has been suffering for at least as long as his gambling I think you are doing the right things addressing his gambling.
    A lot, if not all, of what you describe is the experience I had and in my opinion CGs, counsellors and psychiatrists are not the people to approach unless they are recommended to you as dedicated addiction counsellors. CGs can blind side those without experience making those who love them appear fools. All the approaches that I made sent me off on the wrong tangents – they couldn’t hear what I was saying because they were too busy looking for the mental problem/fault in me. Going off in the wrong directions over and over again causes you to lose your self-esteem and confidence as surely as your son’s problems do and all the while the addiction within your son laughs because they have helped his cause.
    I recognise your son’s lack of emotional attachment but I would not be writing you if I didn’t know that such a lack does not always means there is no attachment.
    You seem to be shouldering this battle on your own, is your son’s father united with you?
    You appear to have 3 sons and they appear to have differing relationships with each other. I have brought up my thread on ‘siblings’ which I hope will help you a little.
    I didn’t find your post jumbled waffle. I am finding that my reply to you is somewhat jumbled and I hope that given time we will learn to understand each other.
    I hear so much discord in your family which must be confusing you terribly and causing you to feel very alone, I hope you will feel less alone knowing that on this forum you are understood and that your experiences have been felt by others who have gone on to live successfully lives without the addiction to gamble controlling them.
    Are you afraid of your son? Are his brothers afraid of him? What support do you have on the ground? Maybe you could try and find a Gamanon group in your area – it is wonderful to physically sit with others who understand you. It takes courage to walk through the door of a Gamanon meeting but for me it was my salvation.
    I hope that you have protected your finances; I suspect you already know that the £2000 that was stolen is unlikely to ever be returned and it is a waste of your energy trying to retrieve it.
    Your son is seeking to blame you because he doesn’t understand what is happening to him and he is not prepared to shoulder responsibility for his poor choices and bad behaviour. He didn’t ask for or want his gambling addiction anymore than you – but having said that, you do not own his addiction and you are therefore stronger than his addiction even if it doesn’t feel like it.
    I hope your new job is giving your pleasure and offers a distraction from what your son is doing and saying – it is important that you keep ‘your’ head in a good place. If it was me I would not take my mobile to work with me – is this something you would consider?
    The addiction to gamble is incredibly exhausting and I will send this post now and await your reply so that I can understand further the problems you are facing. I started my journey of recovery without a hope in the world so I know you can not only survive this but survive it well.
    Well done on what must have been a really difficult first post.
    Speak soon you are being heard

    Can’t cope

    Hi Velvet
    Thank you for your response.

    It is only me, and has been for the past 11 years. His father left because of gambling issues.

    That possible is the beginning of my son’s problems, he was very close to his dad but once his dad meet someone else he distanced himself from the boys very quickly and began a new family. My boys see him once a week for a couple of hours and see him more as a friend who treats them to a game of pool/table tennis/badminton and a mcdonalds. They choose more often than not not to go nowadays.

    My son and his dad shared a love of football and through that is where i think the gambling may have been introduced. My son will now gamble on anything even an ice hockey match which he knows nothing about.

    I am not scared of him, and for some reason even if I may have been I have never shown it.

    I have been through a very bad time, I was bullied in my last job with detrimental effects which resulted in a suicide attempt. At the same time my eldest son was horrendously abusive and would constantly damage things in the home. My other two were very scared of him at that point. My eldest, to this day, blames himself. In my mind I was in no fit state to help any of them.

    Yesterday was horrendous, he had bought tickets for a concert for his brothers birthday. But as he has not been going to work he had no money for travel. I agreed to buy the train tickets but he had to clean his room first (I cannot describe the state he lets it get into. After hours of verbal abusive he did it. Then he wanted money for beer. I refused telling him he need to try and enjoy things with out some sort of substance to alter his emotions. Another few hours of abuse. Eventually they set off, the only problem was that having bought the train tickets online they needed my card to collect them.
    I gave this to my middle son with the instructions, don’t let him have it.
    My eldest took the card off my middle son and used it to buy beer (dam this new swipe system). When the concert finished they ended up missing the last train home. I get a phone call from him to tell me which ends up in him swearing at me and demanding that I get them. If my middle son hadn’t been with him I would have left him to sleep in the train station. So a round trip of 3 hours gets them home. No thanks, just this continual expectation that it is my role to help in out in any situation. He then went out and even at 4am I had no idea where he was.

    My life is like this every day.

    I really like my new job but I need to prove myself quickly. The training is intense. I just wish he would give me a break.

    I t takes every ounce of strength to keep my resolve and not give him money. I just want an end to it.

    My family are aware of what is going on and offer ‘advice’ so often that I am at the point where its easier not to discuss it anymore. There just cannot comprehend the enormity of it all.

    I keep telling myself that we will get through this but I am scared that I might not be quite strong enough.


    Hi CC
    Three sons losing their father in such a way would almost certainly leave them blaming themselves with each one thinking ‘how could my father leave ‘me’’. Rejection at any age is horrible and then gradually being dropped further must have hurt them terribly.
    There are times in most people’s lives, I suspect, when matters spiral out of control and you were obviously devastated about being bullied in your last job. It seems to me your son might have felt he had let you down because he wasn’t able to stop his mother being hurt again and he may have felt he was possibly temporarily losing both parents.
    However, you are now on the up, doing a new job that you like and able to stand back and look at the whys are wherefores of your son’s behaviour. You are standing against his demands for ‘his’ sake when it would be easier, probably, to give in so I know you are strong – well done.
    There is a lot that your son most likely needs to process but he doesn’t know it yet – after all at 18 doesn’t everybody think they know it all – I know I did?
    In my opinion, he is angry and kicking out and you are the nearest target.
    I am convinced you are strong enough, just by reading your posts. Would I be right in thinking that with 3 young men in your home there is a lot of shouting, competition and even anger? I am not suggesting you are a little ray of sunshine in the middle of all this testosterone but I do hope that for a short time each day you give some thought to you, something that makes ‘you’ happy, so that you can appear in control to your sons rather than your eldest thinking he is in control. It isn’t easy but if it is a gambling addiction at the heart of your son’s problems then he will not be deliberately hurting you and neither is he, nor you, to blame for that addiction.
    Once again I am leaving a post even though there are many thoughts whirling round in my head but please keep posting and never worry about asking for clarification or telling me that you think I am getting it wrong.
    Please tell me more about your 2 younger sons – are they quieter, more respectful, how are they doing at school? Is your eldest son working? Do they all have friends and enjoy hobbies or is it just your eldest that likes football?
    I look forward to hearing from you

    Can’t cope

    Thanks again Velvet, your words are very comforting.
    My middle son is a bit of an enigma to me, he will tell me what my eldest son is up to but then join in smoking weed and has even gambled. How ever his personality is very different. He is much more in control of his actions. He is studying for his A’levels and is determined to do well. But I still feel suspicious towards him because I know that he too has lied to me about the weed and what he needs money for.
    He spends most of his time with my eldest but is often threatened by him and they have had some physical fights. On one occasion my eldest threw a tv remote at him splitting the top of his nose open. They both have season tickets for their favourite football team and socialise together.

    My youngest hates all the anger and upset in the house. It really upsets him. We spend a lot of time together. He loves to go to Costa or Starbucks which is becoming a bit of a regular on a Saturday morning 🙂 He is the one who keeps me sane. He is very loving and giving, the exact opposite of my eldest. He is doing his GCSE’s at the moment, has his own You Tube channel and loves anything to do with media and drama. He likes football too but doesn’t go as he says he enjoys it when they go and he knows we have several hours of peace and quiet together. He has his own circle of friends, all of whom see to be lovely lads.

    I am still sticking to my resolve with my eldest. He had bought drugs on loan with the intention of paying it back with some baby sitting money. However he ended up getting more than he earned and so needed an extra £20. He has been begging me to give it to him as he is scared that he will get beaten up if he doesn’t pay it back. He called me a murderer when I still refused.

    He then waved the £20 he had earned at me and told me I was making him go and gamble it as it was the only way he could get enough money to pay his debt.
    He couldn’t wait to tell me he had won and had cleared his debt and paid his brother back what he owed him. ‘One in the eye for you mum.’

    I am so tired. I just want it to be over. I just want him to be better, to be happy, to have pride in himself, to love himself.


    Dear CC
    Well ‘murderer’ was a bit strong wasn’t it? The words that are falling from his mouth are the best he can come up with to make you do whatever it is he wants and he is not succeeding – so well done you. I know how hard it is to hear such things but there are no expletives that have not been uttered by active CGs to those they love and each word strikes home until realisation dawns that it is an addiction spitting its venom, an addiction that knows only lies and threats and uses blaming others as its coping tool. I really hope you will make the group tomorrow evening between 20.00-21.00 hours UK time or 8-9 pm BST so that we can communicate in real time with only kind and supportive words.
    I am glad your younger son is keeping you sane but of course it is not his job to protect you and I hope he is enjoying his life to the full; drama and media is a terrific way to work out the confusion that comes with growing-up and I wish him well – how old is he?. If he is a teenager then maybe you could tell him some of the things you are learning and importantly, I think, maybe suggest to him that he tries not to judge his eldest brother, who is not happy or tough, however much he tries to portray himself as such.
    Your middle son seems to be just that – in the middle and possibly trying to play devil’s advocate but maybe he too should read the 20 questions on the Gamblers anonymous website and even if he thinks he is absolutely fine he is welcome to use this forum and our amazing Helpline if he wants to talk about just being in the middle of things that puzzle him. Anyone affected by the addiction to gamble is welcome on this site. I am so pleased he is determined to do well in his A levels but I think it would be good if he was to be aware that dabbling in weed lowers his resistance to dangers such as gambling addiction which, although an harmless pastime to so many, is a devastating addiction to those unfortunate enough to own it.
    Your youngest son is the exact opposite to your eldest son because your eldest son has an addiction. With knowledge of his addiction you will learn to cope and be able to support him in the right way so that he can hopefully turn his life around sooner rather than later.
    I had to smile when I read that your son said ‘one in the eye for your mum’ because it was such a typical young man’s reaction. Sadly he didn’t win at all because every time a CG thinks they have won it feeds the addiction and that to me is a loss. Hoping he is one up this time will tide him over for a short time but because of the way he is choosing to live his life he will know more disappointments than you will ever get one in the eye.
    I know you are tired and I know you want it over and sadly because we don’t possess a crystal ball between us nobody can know when your eldest son will cry ‘enough’. What I do know is that the more he is enabled the longer his addiction will control him.
    You are doing great saying ‘no’. Maybe you could tell him that you have sought support for yourself and that saying ‘no’ is the right thing to do – maybe he could blame someone called Velvet and contact out Helpline to complain about me – after all if he is so sure he knows what he is doing, what has he got to lose.
    I might have said this before but it is always worth repeating – I would not be writing to you if I didn’t know that your son could control his addiction and be the happy person you want him to be, a man that he and you can be proud of.

    Can’t cope

    You brought tears to my tonight, I was so proud of him, he had everything going for him. He is intelligent and was so confident and sociable. He was highly thought of as a football referee and was even chosen to officiate a woman’s FA cup game. Unfortunately he no longer accepts games because his confidence is on the floor. He flew through his GCSE’s, all A* and A’s but two attempts to do his A’levels failed. He avoids family get togethers because he feel he is being judged. He doesn’t see the love and support around him. He just pushes everyone away. My brother who was so close to him is not only worried about him but hurt by these actions. I hate seeing this deterioration in his relationships. He lost his girlfriend and he knows why but still won’t change.
    Tonight was another long period of him hounding me for money. Apparently he didn’t pay all his debts off and is danger of being beaten up again. All I can think is did he? Didn’t he? If he did then is this him trying to get more money? If he didn’t then did he actually win his bet? Which ever way I turn I come to the conclusion that he is lying.
    He hounded me for so long I ended up asking him to go out.
    I understand its his addiction, whether it be the gambling or the weed. I know my little boy is in there somewhere. It breaks my heart.


    Grow up to hurt us. I read your story and feel you pain. My best friend also my cousin took her own life last week suffering from depression. My son sent me a text message tellnig me he was having bad thoughts two days later – he wanted money……
    He knew I was vulnerable and in shock and it has hurt so bad I have thought of following her.
    To hurt the person who gave life to you is the utmost cruelty but this group give me strength and the ability to go on in hope.
    Redare. Xx


    Hi CC
    It is that intelligence, confidence and sociability that will one day reappear because fundamentally that is who your son is – he is just obscured by his addiction. Sadly unless he is treated he will retreat further into his problem and you will see less of the son you knew but you are working hard and working well to make sure that doesn’t happen.
    I was sorry you didn’t make the F&F group last night at there were only 2 mothers in it and you would have made a welcome third – I hope you make it next week.
    Being in danger of being beaten up is a well-worn theme and of course it terrifies the person who hears the threat. It would be naive to suggest that a CG doesn’t sometimes get beaten – after all they borrow money and then gamble it away. However the usual people who get upset have been friends, work colleagues and extended family members who have never come across the addiction before and ‘lent’ money in the mistaken belief it would be returned, especially when the CG concerned is young. These people hopefully just learn from their mistake and never enable again while making a lot of angry, understandable and often very unpleasant noise.
    Would your son consider communicating with our Helpline or going into a CG group – these groups are facilitated by dedicated therapists and/or CGs who control their addiction? On the Helpline we usually have someone called Harry who is very good with young CGs having been there himself. He is usually there between 9am and 5pm BST Monday to Friday but your son can always ask for him if he isn’t there. I think pointing your son towards those who will support him with understanding and without judgement is important. It was a chance remark by me many years ago when I mentioned the Gordon Moody Association that changed my CG’s life.
    I hope you will tell your brother what you are learning here because his nephew is not deliberately hurting him and therefore his hurt is unnecessary and doesn’t help him or his nephew. CGs stay away from family occasions for the reason you have given – they see judgement everywhere and often they are right which is why the more people who understand and who unite together against your son’s addiction and not your son, the greater chance he has to change his life.
    I think you are doing brilliantly even if you don’t think so and I hope you will keep posting.

    Can’t cope

    Hi Velvet
    I had a breakthrough yesterday, it may seem small to many but if they knew my son they would know it was massive to me.

    He text and asked me for money, saying it was for tobacco,
    I responded with no (insert his name) if you can’t afford it, you don’t do it.

    I then received 5 texts which were rather insulting to say the least, the final one saying ‘Bring it on mateee.’

    I didn’t reply to any of them.

    Then 55 minutes later he text me one word. A word I have not heard him say in a long time.


    He is still in there.

    I finally feel that holding my nerve and sticking to my resolve is paying off.

    It had crossed my mind that he might turn to crime if I stopped giving him any money but I am hoping and praying that deep inside his morals and sense of right are embedded enough to to stop him.

    I know people may snigger at me for thinking that after everything he has put me through but I also know that he is safe in the knowledge that I will never stop loving him. He also knows that for every action there is a consequence and that to turn to crime would have very serious implications. He is also vulnerable and scared, hopefully scared enough to avoid those situations.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it will be plain sailing from now on because I have lived this for nearly 4 years. But I am going to enjoy this baby step in the right direction and I am going to pat myself on the back for sticking to my position with him.

    CC x

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