12 May 2015 at 11:09 pm #3891
My husband and I became aware in February that my son from my previous marriage, is a gambler. He ran up a huge overdraft, and as soon as he was paid would withdraw it all to go to the casino to gamble. Leaving nothing to cover his direct debits.
So we paid off his overdraft, introduced monitoring of his finances, not wanting to take control off him,but to ensure he was trying to act responsibly. That failed. We took his card off him in an effort to curb the spending, he just transferred money over the phone and withdrew it another way.
I spent 10 years saving a nest egg for him, that has gone.
I have paid his car insurance for the last few months to keep him legal. In doing all this I am enabling his gambling, but if I don’t I am so worried that he will end up with no car, and ultimately no job.
He still lives at home, pays no rent, and has the attitude that life is against him, the poor me syndrome. He does not acknowledge that his gambling is making him miserable, and the only real problem is me and my husband interfering and trying to “fix” him.
He recently moved out for a few days – to avoid Owning up to the fact that once again he had blown his wages, and had nothing to cover his outgoings. However he is coming home tonight as he says he wants to sort himself out.
I want to put conditions on him living here, such as counselling, surrendering control of his finances, self excluding from casino, gamblers anon. Which will have an affect ? How do you make someone recognise their problem ? Or is it true, you have to walk away and let them hit rock bottom ? The guilt of letting him do that would be very hard for me. How do I begin to help him help himself ?13 May 2015 at 12:05 am #3892worriedmamaParticipant
I too am the mom of a compulsive gambler. Unfortunately there is not a lot we can do to make a gambler realize they have a problem. Yes, they do have to hit their own “rock bottom” where their life has become unmanageable. The more you can make them responsible financially for all of their needs the sooner they will get to that bottom. An active CG is a master manipulator and when they are through with you you won’t know if you are coming or going!! Therefore, it can take a lot of courage and strength on your part to define and uphold your boundaries.
The guilt of watching them knowingly wreck their lives is gut-wrenching. We all think that if we could just find the right words he will finally realize what a mess gambling is making of his life. Those words do not exist. A compulsive gambler can not hear what you are saying.
I joined Gam-Anon as I felt I was losing my mind and sanity. It was the best thing I could do. There I met people who share stories similar to mine. I didn’t feel so lost.
I also know there is a chat group on this site which is a great way to share your burden.
Take care of yourself and learn all you can about this addiction and you will feel much better equipped to handle things!13 May 2015 at 9:01 am #3893DuncKeymaster
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, youll find the times for these if you click on the Group times box on our Home page. Now that you have introduced yourself youll find that many of the people you meet here have already read your initial introduction and theyll welcome you in like an old friend 🙂
If youre 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 isnt connected with GMA, please dont identify them either directly or indirectly just in case they decide to use the site themselves.
Youll find a lot of advice on this site, some of which youll follow, some you wont…but thats ok because only you fully understand your
situation and whats best for you and the people you love. So, take the support you need and leave the advice you dont because it all comes from a caring, nurturing place 🙂
We look forward to hearing all about you!
The Gambling Therapy Team
PS: Let me just remind you to take a look at our13 May 2015 at 12:10 pm #3894
After a terrific reply from Worriedmum and a welcome from Harry, I am pleased to welcome you too, I hope you will soon know that you have come to the right place for you and ultimately for your son.
I am hoping that your husband is ready to support you through this because it is not an easy ride and your son’s addiction is divisive. I suggest keeping your husband informed of all you learn because the more knowledge you gain the easier it is to cope. Any questions he may have will of course be answered too.
Before I write anymore with what I know is a tough message, I must tell you that I would not be writing to you if I did not ‘know’ that the addiction to gamble can be controlled and that fantastic lives can and are lived as a result.
Conditions rarely work. My CG (compulsive gambler) told me that ‘my need’ was for him to stop lying and change, ‘his need’ was to gamble. I hope the following will help you understand what is happening when you talk to your son, although not recognised professionally it has been a coping mechanism for many of us – and I know it works.
Imagine your son’s addiction is a slavering beast in the corner of the room. Every time you speak to your son, 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 – 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, it will leap between you and control the conversation, probably turning it into an argument. As Worriedmum wrote, 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 he is completely worthless. Because he ‘knows’ he is no good, 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 this time 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 know this all sounds quite negative but the positive side is that it removes you from the centre of the addiction giving you time and energy to look after you.
I cannot begin to tell you how important it is to look after yourself first and that by doing so, you will become stronger, you will reclaim your own life and be able to cope with this addiction. One of the best ways to win is not to play the game.
It will be great to communicate with you in real time. I cannot tell you what to do – because all decisions you make have to be ‘yours’ but I will answer your questions honestly. I have a group on Tuesdays between 20.00-21.00 UK time – it would be great to ‘meet’ you.
I will end this post by repeating my earlier message that I would not be writing to you now if I did not know that your son can control his addiction and can have a fantastic life as a result. You are at the beginning of a really difficult learning curve but you can do it and so can he. The more support you can give each other the better. There is so much more to tell you but I will leave it there for now.
Velvet14 May 2015 at 9:42 am #3895
Thank you for your reply Worriedmama, its good to know that someone has listened and has gone through similar situations, and what you have said makes so much sense.
I will try and be strong, as I know I will need to be to get through this.14 May 2015 at 10:33 am #3896
Dear Velvet, many thanks for your reply and I have taken some comfort from your comment that the “beast” can be controlled and life can be good again.
My husband is very supportive, has researched and read up – you are right its a very steep learning curve we have embarked on, and we have recognized that its going to be a long and divisive process. We have different approaches and coping mechanisms – I get upset and try to reason with my son, my husband gets cross that my son cannot see how much he’s hurting himself and ultimately me.
As you think conditions don’t really work, my immediate concern then is, am I doing the right thing – giving my son a rent free home, paying his car insurance etc as I know this is enabling him to carry on with his addiction and delaying the point of his reaching his rock bottom, or should I withdraw my financial support and let him reach his inevitable rock bottom a lot quicker ?
Thank you again for your post – it is very much appreciated.14 May 2015 at 8:31 pm #3897
Your husband sounds great. Mine struggled but never gave up supporting me – I did Gamanon, an addiction counselling course and finally became a facilitator on this site whilst telling my husband what I was doing every step of the way – without realising it, he became very knowledgeable. Your reactions were very much like ours.
I hope it helps to know that your son is not deliberately hurting you – he didn’t want his addiction anymore than you. At some point he would have gambled for fun as most people do but unfortunately for him addiction was waiting and it doesn’t include ‘fun’.
You son’s addiction will almost certainly have most, if not all, the symptoms that are recognised but he is ‘your’ son and this is your life, so I am not opting out when I say I cannot tell you what to do – I can only support with the knowledge and experience I have, which is greatly enhanced by having a CG who is willing and able to help me understand.
I won’t flood you with suggestions because we are obviously still learning to understand each other but my first question is – has your son ever sought help for his addiction? If he hasn’t then maybe you could print off the Gamblers Anonymous 20 questions which you can get off the net. Either ask him to read them or leave them where can hr see them. It is quite common that CGs are not aware that their difficulties are recognised and that they don’t know that help is available – the 20 questions can help them to focus. Handing them to your son might cause an argument; I think it is quite good to leave them where he will find them. I also know that he can screw them up and throw them away but I also know he might dig them out again and re-read them.
Your main question is difficult. I spent 25 years doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons and I was doing the same as you are doing now, so if I say that paying his car insurance and letting him live rent-free is the same as paying his gambling debts I am not judging. My CG has now told me that as long as I enabled he had no reason to change.
I know what these words will do to you BUT, and it is a big but, I didn’t know what was wrong, I had no idea about addiction, never mind gambling – you are gaining a knowledge that his addiction does not know you have – you are able to be the rock that I was not.
I am leaving you with a few questions before I sign off tonight – you don’t have to answer them but it helps to build up a picture. Does your son have siblings? Is his biological father involved with him and if so is he supportive? How old is your son? I will wait until I have more information from you before I suggest what you could possibly try.
You and your husband are doing well even if you don’t feel it.
Velvet15 May 2015 at 12:22 am #3898worriedmamaParticipant
As Velvet has said nobody here will judge you for how you deal with your son. I feel like we (Parents/Spouses etc) get to our own rock-bottom just as hopefully our CGs do.
The benefits of this site or Gamanon is that we gain some perspective on our lives. We can look at others stories and realize we are not alone and can gain courage and strength from others.
My issues were very similar to yours. My son was living rent free and was in his early 20’s. For some unknown reason I always felt sorry for him. He would gamble all his money away and then be very sorry,depressed and promise that it was the last time. So we would not charge him rent and help out so he could get back on his feet ! Then he would go on a binge, have no money again , we would be furious again and so continued the cycle! Nothing ever changed in spite of my sons continuous promises . In retrospect why would he change… he had a roof over his head, a warm bed, a car, plenty of food and ALL his money to gamble!
You will never win with an active CG. They play the victim. Talking to them is like talking to a brick wall- they can’t hear you nor do they want to.
When my husband and I started looking after ourselves and stopped buying into the chaos and drama things gradually started to shift. We started to let go of the problem and he finally started taking care of himself.
We all get there at our own pace and you coming to this site is a great first step!!20 May 2015 at 1:00 pm #3899
Dear Velvet and Worriedmama – many thanks for your replies.
I have read each through numerous times and gain something else each time I read them. So thank you.
Last week, once my son came home I left it a couple of days before talking.
I downloaded some self exclusion forms for casinos and left them in his room for him. I also sent him the 20 questions and asked him to do the test and just think about the replies.
I also booked a private appointment with a counselor for him. He wasn’t happy about going – but he did and afterwards he said he would make another appointment for this week.
He has come home each night after work at a reasonable hour – so I know he has not been to the casino ( obviously there are other ways to gamble ) but I see this as positive.
I am resolved to helping him – but I see the point about not supporting him financially.
I will keep you posted on how things go this week.
I am feeling more positive – but its early days.
Bonbonnie20 May 2015 at 1:30 pm #3900
Dear Velvet –
I have given my son the 20 questions – and asked him to take the test and think about the answers. I don’t know if he has done them, but I left it at that and tried to do it with no pressure.
I also downloaded some self exclusion forms for the 2 casinos he goes to. I know he hasn’t done anything with them – but I also suspect he has not been to the casino in a week – maybe that’s because he has no money – maybe its because he’s trying – I don’t know.
I booked him a session with a counselor – and he went, and afterwards he said he would go again. So hopefully this will have an impact – and the very fact that he went I take as a good sign. My husband is more pessimistic and feels maybe he only went as he knew it was what I wanted him to do.
My son is 20. He has a half brother in our family unit who is 17, and two half brothers in his biological fathers family unit who are 12 and 10. He has not seen his biological father for a number of months and probably only twice a year for the past few years.
There was a contact court order in place until my son was 16 – and after that I don’t think his father made much of an effort to keep up regular contact or develop the relationship.
he has certainly not made the effort to visit my son – leaving it up to my son to make the effort and visit him.
I have no contact at all with him, as he has proved unpleasant and on a number of times violent with me and my husband, though to my knowledge not with my son. So currently, no he is not supportive – or even aware.
My parents were over this week visiting. My father has done some repair work on my sons car, and has spoken to my son telling him he is aware of the habit, and how much it is hurting and affecting my mother and myself and how he should pull himself together etc.
I’m not sure if this will help or not -my philosophy is if you tell someone often enough they are worthless – then that’s how they end up feeling.
I would have preferred him to tell him he’s worth more than he thinks. But if its true that CG’s don’t hear what you say to them then they wont hear the bad comments along with any good ones will they ?
But my Dad cares for him and in his own way is trying to help.
I am being positive this week – I take comfort that my son has attempted counseling – hopefully this will continue, and that he appears not to have been to the casino.
The test will come on Friday – if he can resist drawing out his money all in one go and blowing it.
I am not sure I will be able to not help my son with his bills in the future – but I am learning its probably best in the long run for all concerned if I don’t.
Thank you again for your support.
Bonbonnie.21 May 2015 at 11:32 pm #3901
CG’s distort what is said to them but I completely agree that if someone is feeling worthless and that view is backed up by others it can never be good.
I am of the opinion that your father was right to tell him that his habit was hurting others because your son’s behaviour is unacceptable but I’m afraid that telling him to pull himself together would not have helped because he doesn’t know how.
He is young and hopefully has not sunk totally into his addiction – on the other hand he will not have had time to become really hurt by his actions. Enablement will feed your son’s addiction and I do hope you can stand strong against bailing him out – his addiction is incredibly manipulative and your resolve will be tested.
I look forward to your update.
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