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    My late 20s age son has been playing (mostly online) poker for the past 9-10 years but I didn’t realize he had a serious problem until a week ago when his life started falling apart – he dropped out of University and broke up with his live-in girlfriend of 3 years.  He had a very large win several months ago ($26,000) and then proceeded to lose it all.  He now is faced with homelessness and being destitute.  Initially I said he could come and stay with me for 2 weeks while he “sorted it out” but then I decided it was delaying the inevitable so I told him I couldn’t do it.  Also he and I trigger each other whenever we are together so it would not be good for either of us.  I have notified his siblings and father and recommended none of them give him money.  He is very angry with me right now but is unable to see he has a problem.  He believes all his problems are because of me.  He says playing poker is his ‘job’.  He doesn’t want to go back to school or get a real job. I feel strongly that if this is his job then he needs to to be able to support himself with it.  I did make the mistake tonight of texting his GF and asking if she wanted to talk to me confidentially.  She said “I do not”.  She then told my son that I contacted her.  He is even angrier at me now, saying that crossed the line.  His final text after I told him I was seeking help as the parent of gambling addict was to say he wanted me out of his life.  He said he wouldn’t block me but didn’t want any more contact.  I actually believe this is probably for the best.  He has been texting me all day since I said he couldn’t come stay.  My son isn’t close with his dad but his dad is likely going to let him come stay with him for a while.  I’m OK with that as his dad has done a lot of al-anon work and isn’t likely to enable him; hopefully he can gently steer our son toward help.
    Anyway, I’m just reaching out for support.  This is a sad, lonely, and scary place to be and I can only imagine how desperate he is feeling.  I told him I loved him and if he decided he wanted to get help I could give him some resources.  I will always be there for my son but just not in the way, in his CG mind, he thinks I should be.

    I really feel for you as a mum of an addict my sons escalated from having a big win!  He’s now having counselin Again as he’s had so many relapses he earns good wages has a good career so it’s not for the money! This past relapse he stole

    money from my purse only £20 but he should never have done this! I threatened to report him as stealing from me if he didn’t sought help again I have all his cards and the access to his accounts all he has now is cash I do feel I have a child again but if it helps get him out of the habit then I will to stop  him throwing all of it away! I’m not sure he will ever recover totally he says he doesn’t want to do it but continually relapses when I think he’s doing good and let him have a card again!! His counselling can only help him if he’s totally honest with her which I’m not 100% assured he is they make you suspicious of everything!!

    I’ve had counselling my self which has helped me in my life as we must take care of ourselves and not feel it is our fault 



    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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    The Gambling Therapy Team

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    Thanks Shirley for your message.  I’m sorry for all of us friends and family of CGs and sorry for the CGs themselves.  I’m beating myself up/blaming myself right now for mistakes I’ve made but at some level I know his CG problem isn’t my fault.  I am starting counseling today and will work on myself but my anxiety over the situation is through the roof.  My son doesn’t live near me. With my not allowing him to come home I don’t have to police him but as a mom I am worried sick.  I need to buckle up because I think this is going to be a long, bumpy ride.  Hopefully we and our kids will get to the other side and in control of their CG.  My best to you and your son.


    Hi Mjaycee

    You have done so well already with your son and I am sorry that his girl-friend’s reaction to you was so poor – it would appear she is in denial, in which case there is nothing more that you can do for her. It is always a shame when those around compulsive gamblers choose not to see – it doesn’t help anybody.

    Your whole post is a mirror image of my own  experience so I hope that my telling you that my son changed his life 13 years ago and now lives a wonderful happy life in control of his addiction will help you.

    When my son accepted his addiction, he told me about the anger he had directed towards me for years and the reason why. He had to blame somebody or accept responsibility for his unacceptable behaviour – I was the closest and therefore the easiest target. Even when he went into rehab he told me that he was still blaming me for everything – fortunately I did not hear it and fortunately those who did hear him recognised that this was his way of deflecting blame.

    It is so tough. We have a vision of the way our child will be when he grows up, we give unconditional love and we do all we can to safe-guard their happiness, so why then does this happen to us?

    I know now Mj that I was not to blame for his addiction and nor was he. He gambled at an early age with friends and before he knew what was happening the addiction took hold and got steadily worse over the years. I was totally unaware of what was wrong with him apart from sensing his great unhappiness and I was completely ignorant of addiction. I did everything wrong for all the right reasons – I bailed him out, believed his lies, I gave him a roof and an easy life because I thought he would learn from me what love was all about. It didn’t work.

    You are not enabling, you are informing those who care for your son that enabling him is wrong; you are not letting him return to your home where he could wreck your life whilst making no effort to change his; you have heard his nasty comments and yet you are still here, loving him in the best way and doing well. I think you are great and I hope that one day your son will tell you that too.

    Parenting a compulsive gambler is a sad, thankless and lonely place and it is even sadder because the child is also in a sad and lonely place. He cannot win when he gambles, he will not win because he has an addiction.

    I am going to leave this here for my first reply to you and wait to hear from you.



    Thanks for your response Angel.
    2 days ago my son did text me the following: “I feel bad for some of the hurtful things I said and I want to apologize to you. I know you are working on bettering yourself, like me, so I want to give you encouragement and wish you the best. I hope you know I’ll always love you. We do need to take time apart though and so maybe we can reconnect in a couple months or so…I can only hope. Here’s to us living our best lives until that day comes”.
    It was nice to receive that message. I am totally backing off and trying to trust that other family members can help him more than I can right now. I am an anxious wreck however! I am doing things to try to move ahead myself, going to a co-dependent 8 week class starting this afternoon, seeing a therapist, and planning to travel to a gam-anon meeting next week. I went out and took a brisk walk today and plan to continue that daily as a way to manage my anxiety. I don’t have a partner but I do have friends for support. I just have so much fear about what the future holds for him and my not having ANY control over how this turns out is really out of my comfort zone. Need to put the serenity prayer on my phone and repeat it several times a day…


    Hi Mjaycee
    Does anybody really have control of the way things will turn out for their children? I don’t think so! We plan, we dream but ultimately our children make their own way – sadly your son’s way is difficult but not impossible.
    I like your son’s message to you and his seeming recognition that you are not helping each other but with no fault being placed on either of you.
    I don’t know how often my son tried to control his life before he eventually succeeded but looking back I am sure I didn’t do or say the right things if he did try. We became estranged M. He went his own way, believing that he was going to ‘show me’ that he knew what he was doing. Did I think about him? Of course I did, everyday – but without his addiction consuming me I began to pick myself up, I went to Gam Anon, I re-found my life.
    I love the Serenity Prayer – I also love the following
    There are two days in every week about which we should not worry: two days which should be kept free from fear and apprehension.
    One of these days is yesterday with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control. We cannot undo a single act we performed. We cannot erase a single word we said. Yesterday is gone.
    The other day we should not worry about is tomorrow with its possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise or poor performance. Tomorrow is also beyond our immediate control.
    Tomorrow’s sun will rise, either in splendour or behind a mask of clouds – but it will rise. Until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.
    This leaves only one day – TODAY. Any person can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when you and I add the burdens of these two awful eternities – yesterday and tomorrow – that we break down. It is not the experience of today that drives people mad – it is the remorse or bitterness of something which happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow may bring. Let us, therefore, LIVE BUT ONE DAY AT A TIME.
    Enjoy your walks M and make sure you notice nature unfolding all around you, embrace your friends and laugh with them, share with Gam -Anon as you have here because you never know who is listening, put fear to bed. You are not alone. When your son realises that his addiction if hurting him enough to determine to change, you will be healthy and in control of your life and able to support him.
    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.

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