Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family I am positive that my father has a gambling problem

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    I am positive that my father has a gambling problem and I am the only one that knows about it, but I have not talked to him about it… I just can`t do it…
    I think that it has been going on for years and fear that if I let it be it will only get worse. I don`t think that he is in financial trouble, but he did ask me for money for a friend of his. I think he goes to the casino after work because he comes home late. I also feel that he is agitated and moody when he comes home.
    I read a lot about gambling and understand that I shouldn`t blame him and that it is a disease but I feel kind of betrayed. I can forgive him but I just want him to start working on that problem… I really don`t know whats the best course of action I can take. I feel that the gambling effects his relationship with my mother as well.


    Sometimes I just feel suffocated from not knowing what to do, because I want to talk to him but at the same time it seems like something impossible to do…


    Hello Dhok0

    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

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    Hi Dohk0

    Unfortunately the group closed as I was telling you that I am on holiday at the moment so I will not be posting until the 13th but I just wanted to welcome you to the forum – you are welcome and you are in the right place.


    Hi Dohky0
    I think you would do well to learn as much as you can about the addiction to gamble before you try and address your father’s problem at all as an active gambling addiction is extremely difficult to confront. If you are sure that he has a real problem then possibly it would help if you downloaded the 20 questions that are listed on the gamblers anonymous web site and then leave them where he can see them because maybe he isn’t aware that his behaviour is causing you distress and it might help him to know that it is – I say leave them where he can see them rather than giving them to him which could result in an unpleasant stand- off.
    Are you still living at home? You say that you are the only one who knows about your concern but if your father is a CG your mother will more than likely be very aware that things are not right. I don’t know how old you are but in my opinion it would probably be better for you to share your worry with your mother first – maybe it would help her to know she has someone to talk to.
    Speak again soon – the forum is quiet but I hope that other members will read your thread and respond,


    I am just about to go off to university for my last year there. I was home for a month this summer and I am 24. I was thinking that maybe I can share my concerns with my brother, who is 26, and than we could both talk to my mother about it. After that we could talk to him about it. The thing is I`m not sure if I should get my brother involved, although I do think he has a right to know and also we could both support our mother better since she would be the one who would be constantly next to him through those times. Another thing is that in my country there are only 2 or 3 towns in which there are GA meetings and ours is not one of them, so maybe the support would be coming mainly from us, if he chooses to take care of the problem. Meanwhile I am having real emotional distress since I know I should act, but I don`t know which course of action is the best.
    Also, how do you think that my brother, who probably does not have any idea about this, would react and feel when I tell him? I am asking because he has made these plans for this month and I am not sure if I should wait to tell him in order not to run them…


    Hi Dhok0
    It seems to me that your brother should be the one for you to speak to – I can hear that you need support and this is not something you should be carrying alone.
    I cannot second guess how your brother will react and I can only make a suggestion about what to say. It would be better, in my view, to say that you are worried about something but you are unsure – just as you have been writing here – allow him to push the idea around in his head, just as you have. If he is totally unaware this will be hard for him – it is not something any of us would want to hear. If you are right about your father though and it seems to me, from what you have written, that you are, then it is better for those close to him to know, or they could unwittingly enable and feed his addiction.
    You do not have to act – I believe your father is making poor choices and they are not your fault – the problem is his, not yours, regardless of your relationship I have a friend whose husband is an undeniable CG but she won’t seek help – she said that if she does she will have to face something she doesn’t want to face. I have no right to tell her that she must seek support and although I do try to help her I have to respect her right to live her life as she thinks right for her.
    We all have to make our own choices Dhoky0 – with knowledge of the addiction we hopefully make better ones but in my opinion you should not have your life blighted by your father’s behaviour. You are in your last year of university and your life is before you – the life that your father helped to bring into this world. With rationality and logicality your father would be rightly proud of you for growing up to be the wonderful caring person that you are, he would be ashamed for bringing you emotional distress – but unfortunately his addiction is neither rational nor logical and it will bring you down if you allow it. In that lies the answer I think – don’t allow his behaviour to take away your self-esteem and confidence. You matter. Your success is important.
    Your brother cannot take care of the problem anymore than you can, only your father can change the way he is – but sharing your concerns with him will surely help you and that really, really is important for you and ultimately for the man your father would wish himself to be.
    Keep posting – you are being heard and understood. The Tuesday group is there for you if you want to communicate in real time – you will be very welcome.


    Hi again. I have talked to my brother and his suggestion is for both of us to talk to my father without getting our mother involved at all, and hope that he will stop basically on his own, having realized the danger of his habit. My brother also suggests telling him that his gambling can put his family in danger and to consider if it is worth it.
    My idea, on the other hand, is to try my best to convince him( if he doesn`t realize it already) that he has a problem and that he should take care of it, trying to avoid putting blame on him or making him feel ashamed on purpose or threatening him. I think that my brothers approach is going to do those things and as far as I read, these feelings of shape,guilt and such are not going to help for the recovery.
    I am also in the opinion that we should tell our mother first and than talk to him, so that during his recovery he will have someone next to him, because both me and my brother live in another town. My brothers concern is that mom has a weak character and it`s best not to cause her stress, although I believe that she is unconsciously under stress right now because she might suspect that something is going on but doesn`t know what it is.
    Another thing is that my brother suspected that dad might have gone to casinos, but he was doing it as a hobby or to have fun and it might be harmless. Do you guys know of such cases where people do it for fun and how often do they do it? Also I would like to know your opinion on what is the best approach. Thank you in advance.


    Hi D
    I am so glad you have shared your worry with your brother. Although he thinks that what your father is doing could be harmless, the score you believe your father would reach on the GA 20 questions suggests otherwise. As you will have seen most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least 7 of the questions, so there is reason to be concerned.
    There are grey areas for many who gamble – gambling may be controlled but appear excessive to those around them. Most of us, I think, have things that we love doing that take over our lives for a time, even obsessively but do us no harm – for me it is table-tennis. The difference between me enjoying what I do and being compulsive is that if it hurt me or those around me I could stop easily and immediately.
    When your father asked you for money for a friend of his, did you give it to him and if so when did you get repaid? Was he anxious when he asked you and what reason did he give for not helping his friend himself?
    CGs have very big highs and lows, so how edgy and moody do you feel your father is around the times you think he gambles?
    Does he lie, sometimes about things that make no sense and times when there is no reason to lie at all?
    The fact that you don’t think he is in financial trouble possibly means he is gambling within limits he has fixed for himself in which case he ‘might’ be in control or problematic rather than addicted.
    The person who, in my opinion, would benefit from talking about a possible worry is your mother but I really cannot tell you that this is something you must do. I know from my own experience that I would have gained immeasurably from knowing because I could have made sense of what was happening to me and I would have had choices in my life whereas ignorance meant I had none and therefore I enabled. ‘If’ your father is gambling compulsively then I have no doubt your mother’s life is being devalued. It may be that she will not thank you for talking to her because many people chose denial but if she is unwittingly enabling your father it seems to me she could do with understanding from those who love them both.
    Living with the addiction to gamble is enough to weaken a person. Does your brother feel your mother is weak emotionally or physically?
    Quite a few questions for you D but I hope that by exchanging information you will come to know the way forward that is right for you.
    Whatever happens and I cannot stress this enough, you have your own life to lead and it is so very important that this concern does not damage your life. Many people do not achieve their best in education because they worried about extraneous things when they were young and then, for evermore, find themselves wishing ‘if only …..’ Your university education must come first; that is the right thing for both of your parents as well as for you.
    Keep posting


    So here is my (hopefully) final comment on my situation. My brother and me talked to my mom, who said that she didn’t suspected anything and after we convinced her that he goes to a casino she, as my brother, supposed that he was doing it as a means of having fun and relaxing from work. Before we talked to my dad I was the only one left thinking that he has an addiction problem and that he does not have control over his gambling.
    So I talked to my dad during dinner, with my mom and brother beside me, and he was glad that I talked to him about it. He said that he thinks he is in control of the situation and that he is doing it for fun, with a certain amount of money that he had put away for that reason specifically( every couple of days). He said that he has been doing it since the 1st casino opened in town( around 25 years ago) and that there were not times in which he had lost control and lost more than he had. I told him that I would feel better if we went the next day to a therapist who has experience with addictions and he agreed(not with pleasure) and so we went the next day ( all of us ).
    While there I told the therapist my concerns and after he told us what and addict behaves like and stories of such. At the end of the meeting he said that he can’t be the one to tell for sure if my dad had a problem or not but if what he had said was true, than he probably did not have a problem controlling this.
    At the end I felt kind of bad for insisting so much that he has a problem and I do believe I was wrong. I think at one point I forgot the reason why I was doing all of this ( to help him) and convinced myself that he definitely has a problem. I ended up causing a lot of worry to my mom and maybe left a bad impression on the family. I am sure they will ( if they haven’t already) forgive me if they were upset with me in the first place.
    In conclusion I am glad I confronted my dad after all these years (5-6 maybe). I was not very pleased with the way I did it but I suppose that for my first time (if that sounds right) I can’t be too upset with myself. All and all my dad was right when he told me that I should have spoken to him the moment I thought something was wrong. All of that could have been avoided ( my distress during all this years as well ) , but nevertheless this is life and that is how you learn: you make a mistake so that you ( hopefully) don’t have to do it again.

    Thank you all for the support you have provided. You have helped me and if it wasn’t for you I might still be festering that secret inside me. Good luck to you all in your own battles.

    Sincerely , Donko


    Dear Donko
    I don’t know how old you are but you are showing an amazing maturity.
    In this forum we hear all the time how members didn’t confront their CG and accepted excuses and indefinable explanations for poor behaviour, inexplicable losses of money, possibly lies and evasions because they wanted to hear that all was well. No daughter/father, husband/wife, brother/sister relationship welcomes the news that an addiction is causing chaos in their lives – which is why active deception on one hand and self-deception on the other succeeds in creating the cycle that causes so much damage. Your story would have been very different if your father had been in that cycle and nobody had challenged him.
    I admire your strength because I know how hard this has been for you. I am just so pleased that your concerns appear to be unfounded. You have never said you knew your father definitely had a problem; you have wanted to hear he was ok and now you have.
    I wish you well with your University course.
    Thank you for coming back with this update when you need not have done so – you are very special and I am very, very glad that I have had the pleasure of ‘knowing’ you for a moment in time.


    HI DohkO ,
    Firstly it was lovely to chat to you In group. You struck me as a very genuine young person who cares deeply for his /her family .

    I think whether or not your father has a gambling addiction, you have learned an important lesson.

    Do not let others put thoughts in your head or fuel the thoughts you may have . Stand back and see what they are gaining from their perspective ..whether that is justification of their own ideas, or some other form of self satisfaction .

    Your dad is entitled to his own hobbies , whether or not we approve .

    I learned this lesson when I was about your age.

    I was out for the night in a new venue in a new part of town.
    I felt a lot of the girls were dressed Inappropriately scantily .

    I expressed this to an older lady and what she said to me has stayed with me for life.

    She said “but they don’t mean anyone any harm..these are just clothes” . She was so right , .i expected an older,conservative lady with a Blouse buttoned to the neck and a skirt to her shoes to agree with my view
    I was young and judgemental .
    She was right , these girls did not dress like me but that did not make them any less than me .

    I often think of that moment and how this woman in a pub shaped me . I tend to be less judgemental as a result of her wisdom, but also more ready to stand up and speak out when I feel others are passing judgement .(perhaps that is a form of judgement in itself)

    Whether or not your concerns are justified , I hope this lesson also shapes you. Like me you may end up working to defend the rights of others.

    I sincerely hope your dad does not have a gambling disorder , and that you have a great year at uni.
    I hope that this experience shapes you, so that you understand that things are not always as they seem and people will use your concerns to further their own cause.

    You are a super, caring , brave young person and I don’t mean to put you down in any way . I am not saying whether or not your father has a gambling disorder. I am saying use this experience to shape you, and always remember we are all just plodding through life, and most people will develop an addiction to something ( even coffee !!) at some stage of their life.

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