Get practical support with your gambling problem Forum Friends and Family New to this site and gambling problems of my son

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    Hi I’m new to this but know there are people out there to guide and support so I’m hoping…,

    About a year ago my son as a student got into debt we believed from gambling. ( well knew really). We tried to offer our support but he refused saying he wanted to sort it. He got a part time job plus his 21st birthday came and went and it appeared he cleared his debt. He graduated and now works semi full time but is living in a different city. Plus has too much time on his hands he says. He’s now flying solo financially and the second month of his rent is due but it appears he has blown his money for this. He eventually called us last night and asked for help. He has agreed to work with us and to transfer all his wages to us except some living money that way we can pay the rent from his earnings we hope. He was very depressed and angry at himself. But I fear this is just the tip of the iceberg and he says he doesn’t want to go to a group. He needs some support other than us but fear that may run out if he goes back on things. I was heartened that he hadn’t run up debt but run out of cash so guess it may have been worse. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.




    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!


    Hi Northerner
    Well done writing your first post, I know how hard it is but there are certainly ears here listening and understanding, so you can know you are not alone.
    I understand your fear that this is the tip of the iceberg – sadly along with the gambling problem usually comes deceit and lies and it is common not to know exactly where the truth lies.
    I am pleased to hear that your son has asked for help – try and keep communication open with him because he will probably fluctuate between asking for help and telling you that he is in control. Communication is best kept light because as I said the truth is difficult if not impossible to know so asking him direct questions about his gambling will probably result in him closing down.
    I have brought my thread entitled ‘The F&F Cycle’ up for you to let you have some idea of the way your son is probably thinking.
    Support doesn’t run out when there is a slip or a relapse – your son has a recognised problem, which sadly is still not out in the open enough. It takes courage and determination to control what is an addiction and often courage fades but nobody turns their back on a trier.
    I liked the fact you said ‘we’ tried to offer support because it means you are not alone. It is important to be united against the problem your son possesses because the addiction to gamble does divide parents, siblings and children.
    Do you have other children? The reason I ask is that often a child will feel his/her siblings are achieving greater things. There is no need to answer this but it helps to flesh out what maybe is going on with your son.
    I am going to leave my first reply to you there and get it off quickly so that you can know you are being heard. It would be great if you could join the Friends and Family group on Thursday evening between 8 and 9pm where we can communicate in real time and where nothing that is said appears on the forums. In the meantime keep posting.


    Thanks for that I am trying to see some positives in his situation. He has an older sister who achieves with sheer hard work. They both lost their dad age 9 and 7. We got through it despite his existing difficult nature – the world owes him! But I remarried and had another daughter he loves. The relationship with me and his step dad has never been easy and he was hard work as a teen. But he got to uni in Newcastle has got a degree and works hard at a job that is doing for now but isn’t the aim. I feel worse as he’s not nearby but we only often rubbed along when he was home. I think he’s lonely and bored which I am sure doesn’t help. I know I may have to cut loose at some point but fear how things will go for him. He says he feels depressed and worthless. Just unsure how to help from here if/when his plans with us fail. Wish I could scoop him up and drop him somewhere remote where only food and shelter are provided and he could learn how to love life. Thanks


    I too am the mom of a compulsive gambler. It is so hard to give advice to somebody at the beginning of this “journey”. You are right when you say you are afraid it is just the tip of the iceberg. My experience has shown this is not a simple, clear cut issue whereby you do x,y & z and you are good to go.

    My best suggestion would be to garner all the support you can for yourself… this forum, the chat, GamAnon and reading up on gambling addiction. Forewarned is forearmed and nothing can ever replace face to face support. He is your son and unfortunately some of your first instincts can end up being the most counter productive to his recovery. Support can help give you a proper perspective.

    I have been dealing with this for a long time and I am still alive and kicking. I have found ways to compartmentalise my sadness, anger and fear and truly enjoy my life and family the majority of the time. It does take work and a commitment to yourself.

    Here is my favourite quote that has helped me through this

    “When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves”

    Please take care and keep writing!



    Hi Northerner
    The biggest positive, that I can think to give you, is to tell you that I wouldn’t be here writing to you if I didn’t know that the addiction to gamble can be controlled and that your son can have a gamble-free future.
    I really hope to get the opportunity to talk to you in the privacy of a group because the situation you have described is sadly common to many of those who love a CG. You are not to blame for your son’s problem and nor is he, he neither wanted nor asked for a problem with his gambling.
    Your son’s feelings of depression and worthlessness are common; his addiction is one where failure figures in everything he does – a CG (compulsive gambler) cannot walk away from a gamble until, often, everything is lost.
    Worriedmama is right that it is important to gain as much knowledge as you can because the reaction of those who are trying to care for a CG is often counterproductive – too much time can be wasted doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons.
    You say you are unsure how to help if/when his plans fail and although I cannot tell you what to do because it is ‘your’ life I can tell you that giving money to a CG is the same as giving a drink to an alcoholic.
    It is common for parents to feel they have only ‘rubbed along’ with their offspring, growing up is a difficult process and you could not have known that your son was seeking escape in gambling – it is not something you could have expected.
    I suggest that when you talk to him you show enthusiasm about any positives in his life, the good thing that happened at work or the funny thing he maybe heard on the television – allow him to bring up his worries when ‘he’ is ready but be prepared to be firm. When ‘he’ mentions his financial problems maybe you could tell him that you have sought help for yourself and that you have been told that ‘his’ plan to hand his finances over to you is something that is recommended.
    I will end here and write again soon but in the meantime when your son gives you an opening to talk about his problem you could tell him that if he wishes to talk anonymously to someone about his problem then our Helpline is brilliant. He will not be judged but treated with respect and the greatest understanding.
    Keep posting, you are doing well and I think that looking for a Gamanon group, as Worriedmama has suggested, is great. Grab every support you can for yourself because knowledge will give you power over his addiction and help you to realise that you are stronger than his addiction.


    It’s great to hear such positive stuff here thank we had already decided handing money over us not an option. The plan is he pays us his rent money then in order to protect it we hand it over on payment date. At least that should keep a roof over his head. However if he goes back on that he’s on his own. I think I worry that he will end up without a place to stay and no mobile phone and contact will be lost.

    He has always been head in the clouds about saving money and things he will do – lots of grand plans. However I’m trying to get him to achieve things just one day at a time. Think if I keep to my plan of not giving money where will he end up. Thanks


    Hi Northerner
    Never make ultimatums like ‘if he goes back then he’s on his own’ unless you mean it 100%. Challenging a CG is challenging his addiction and his addiction will always look for weaknesses on the part of others. If an ultimatum is not kept then the CG will believe that he/she can ‘get away with it’ over and over.
    Conditions rarely work unless the CG asks for them.
    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 him, 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 – but 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. 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 truly believes 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 because 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 I 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



    Hello Forum. Thank you so much for this. I just joined today and have come across this thread. I am also a mom of a CG. Its the 3rd year now and every time he relapse, it’s worst. Support is key here. …The line you wrote “If an ultimatum is not kept then the CG will believe that he/she can ‘get away with it’ over and over.” is so true.
    My son has been 3 times to a rehab and this time I decided to look into a support group, as it looks like he is more of a manipulator since he has been at a rehab. Are there any suggestion for rehab and support facilities in Johannesburg South Africa, which you can recommend?
    He has also attempted suicide twice because of this and I am now so afraid. We have both been for joint therapy, but it seems to work for a while, then just fades.
    I feel lost….

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