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    I have a brother  with a gambling addiction since I can remember in high school. Now he is in his late 30’s. Never had it occurred to me how serious it was until he reached out to tell us what he had done and that his wife was going to file a divorce. They have a 14 month old together and I just thought she would never leave him. He took out a cash advanced on a credit card under her name and she finally found out. He recently borrowed some money from me in which I said would be the last time. He said the amount of money he owed people finally caught up and he was desperate. I asked how much he owe and he said 30k to his wife/ex for past gambling debt and now 32k to whoever else he borrowed from. When I was younger he had taken my checkbook and went to do a cash advance. When my dad was alive and had to file bankruptcy I learned that he had opened up credit cards in his name when these unknown cards and debt had popped up. The list goes on but the reason I’m here is because I finally realize it’s an addiction. I want to be there for my brother but I don’t want to extend the financial help to bail him out only to see him do it all over again. I don’t know what’s the right thing to do. He text us a few days ago showing us pictures of how he almost got in an accident from being so tired on the road. Not sure what happened but it got me worrying if he would fall into a darker path. He is also known to do drugs so I’m just even more scared of what this divorce can do to him if he doesn’t get any help. I had text him a list of things he needed to work on…all the obvious and he agreed he has a problem but I now realize after reading some posts it will mean nothing unless he gets the help he needs. We have lived through his lies…and never addressed it directly towards him and have just brushed it under the rug. I feel guilty that I never thought about how serious his problem was and didn’t do anything to help him. Now that I am more aware and especially since his wife has been the bufffer to shield us from dealing with it, I know he will reach out more and possibly asking for more money, etc…it’s a vicious cycle. He has a criminal record so his opportunity to get a decent paying job is slim therefore making it difficult to pay off any personal debt. I’m worried that with our other sibblings not offering to help financially what would be the reprocussion of that… and if we do help, we’re enabling him…It makes me sad and being able to be in control to do what I need to, to help him. I used to just believe his lies because it was easier than to say I know you’re lieing to his face. I just don’t know what to do. He’s so upset that his wife’s family told her to leave him. But I said to him didn’t you tell me you know you messed up and deserve it? I feel like I don’t think he can ever get better because even after having his daughter he was still able to lie and deciet her 🙁 How could anyone do this to their significant other…I don’t understand I just know it’s a real demon. 



    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.

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    Hi Seester
    There is absolutely no reason for you to feel guilty, your brother has a divisive, manipulative addiction and he needed you to believe his lies.
    If it was not possible to control the addiction to gamble I wouldn’t be writing to you now. I am here because I know your brother can get better.
    There is nothing you can do about his wife’s family refusing support his marriage – he might blame them but from what he said about ‘messing up and deserving it’ it suggests he has some sense of responsibility for his action and that is good.
    It is a vicious cycle but he can climb out of it, he can control his addiction and live a good life but he has to want to do so.
    Those who love compulsive gamblers often fear that they will sink to a terrible place but sadly bailing them out is not an answer. I am interested that he sent you a picture of a near accident which rather suggests he wants you to worry about him – this can lead to you wanting to enable him.
    Look after you
    Speak soon


    Seester…I feel your pain. I am living through the same thing right now…my brother is just spiraling out of control. He said he was going to kill himself last night. He cannot control this addiction. he needs medical help. I feel so helpless


    Hi Angel
    Please start your own thread and hopefully you can learn to feel less helpless.
    If you scroll to the bottom of the forum page and click on ‘New Topic’, write your post in the box, scroll down and click ‘send’your message will appear and you can get support that is unique to you.
    If you brother is a compulsive gambler he will need the right support – not pills but counselling from his peers and/or dedicated counselors. such support is available.
    I hope to hear from you as I am unable to support you on someone else’s thread.


    Thanks so much for the supportive comment. I have read it the day you posted but have not had a chance to respond. I am so glad I was able to share my thoughts since I quickly felt depressed and contemplated about trying to help my brother out but I know bailing him out would not be the right thing to do. My supervisor at work suggested that I make sure I arm myself with the right resources to make the best decision for our family because he worried that it might impact my own marriage if it becomes a habitual thing. 

    I had sent him this text: I was reading things about gambling addiction and you may feel like I’m overstepping my boundaries but I think you have an addiction that is beyond what you can control on your own. It’s a serious and really hard problem to deal with on your own. You will need professional and constant help from family and friends to get you through it. When you reach out and need money and the lies you tell…it’s the demon controlling you. I can’t imagine how life has been for you all this time not having any tools of how to overcome it…so you just give in because that’s all you know. I need you to tell us what you want us to do to help you through this and get back on your feet. I know you want to be the best version of yourself. 

    He responded saying no he just needed to hit rock bottom and he’ll manage on his own.

    Then I left off with “you can’t do it on your own…there’s no way…yes you gotta hit rock bottom but it’s like any addicts, if it’s easy for them to stop why didn’t they? Because it’s hard. Really hard. When you want the help, when you’re ready for it…then I’ll help you find it. But letting you borrow money or helping clear off your debt when you haven’t fixed the problem will just cycle around again. I won’t push it and will let you find your way on your own but just know that I’m here for you when you need me.“

    Since then I haven’t heard from him. It was the first time in our lives that I have ever said anything to him about his addiction. His response was short but I expected that. The silence for me is comforting because I don’t have to deal with the stress. However I know a lot of secrecy cycle with him such as another sibling telling me how he’s been reaching out to them to ask for a few hundred dollars for food and gas or whatever reason.

    I’m wondering what am I to do next? Wait until the next bomb explodes and hope it’s fixable? Do I try and reach out to my other siblings and talk about a plan of action so that we’re all on the same page? I know how easy it is to feel out of sight out of mind since we all have our own lives but I don’t want to live in regret if anything happens to him and I could have done something or could have done more. 


    I’m sorry to hear you are going through the same thing. It’s so heartbreaking because we do love them so much. The frustration of not being able to control the situation is hard on everyone. I felt helpless too and really overwhelmed but reading through this forum helped me feel less alone. I hope your brother is in a better state now. Right now my brother is saying how he’s not emotional about anything and is surprisingly doing okay so I guess I should take that and hope it’s true. 

    I hope our brothers can get the help that they need soon. I want to stop adding to the memort book of…he did this and borrowed this much and lied about this…etc. 


    Hi Seester

    I think your message to your brother shows great compassion and I hope that somewhere in his mind he has found space to store your words.

    I hope you are continuing to enjoy the freedom from stress that you had since you wrote to him. It is hard to know when to stop saying words of encouragement – I think we often think that maybe just one more line ‘might’ trigger a good response and then we can tend to say too much and confuse our loved one. So with that in mind, I suggest you do nothing more until you know the bomb has gone off or hopefully he is ready to listen. Rock bottom is a mental state and cannot be arrived at before time. Your brother can read your caring words until then.

    I am a great believer in a whole family knowing as much as possible about the addiction to gamble when it is in their midst. One person enabling can lay waste to the efforts of all the others. Through shame, guilt and ignorance I didn’t share my fears with the result that others enabled when I had stopped. Understanding is difficult but you have a lot of knowledge with which you could support your siblings and ultimately your brother.

    You have spoken out to your brother now and told him that you know he has an addiction; he therefore has less need to lie to you although I suspect he will probably do so again. I found that when I had enough determination to vow that I would never let the gambling addiction hurt me again, I was able to say the right words, do the right thing and stop being confused by his addiction.   I believe in loving the gambler but standing shoulder to shoulder with him in hating his addiction – even if he is not ready to respond.

    I hope you and your family and your brother, wherever he is, have a wonderful Christmas – I look forward to hearing from you soon.



    After Christmas my brother sent the familu a text about how he’s going to change and get his life on track. But since then there were two occurrences where he would text one family asking for some money and then weeks later ask another family member. Both times we said no but I just don’t know if more should be said…What is the right thing to say? Or does it even matter. He would ask in a sense of hey can you help me out? Or can you spot me? In our minds we want to say so much like I know you’re just going to gamble it off, why should I loan you when you’re never going to pay me back? Are you even doing anything to work on your addiction? How are you trying to get better? Right now we’ve decided to just keep it short with saying no and denying him access to any cash funds. It’s hard because I’m not there to be able to see him to gauge what state he’s in. There’s always that fear of will this no push you over the edge? Anyway…just trying to stay as strong as we can to not enable him but also want him to know we love him. 


    Hi Seester
    I think you and your family are doing really well.
    The addiction to gamble is divisive and your brother is certainly proving those words.
    A simple ‘no’ is fine and I think the only addendum I would ever put to it is that the answer is ‘no but it is because we love you and we will therefore not enable you’. I don’t think it helps to tell him that you know he will only gamble the money away, or to ask him to work on his addiction – such words will probably only serve to convince him that you don’t understand.
    Of course there is always a fear – you cannot see how your brother is coping and it is easy to imagine the worst. I was told by a compulsive gambler years ago that CGs would always find a bed and someone to feed them. I believe when this is no longer true you will hear the difference.
    The time will hopefully come soon when more can be said but in the meantime you are doing the best thing for him.
    Excellent post, positive action, your bother is lucky to have you all as his family even if he doesn’t know it yet.

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