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Feeling helpless

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#1 Posted on:
Mon, 02/07/2018 - 20:22

alison foyle


Not sure if anyone can help me. I am the mum of a 27 year old who is struggling to recognise the scale of his gambling problem, is determined he doesn't need help to sort it out and then keeps failing, therfore feeling even worse about himself. He drinks to hide from it. I am trying to support him but he pushes me away. I feel helpless and a failure, even 'though my head tells me he is responsible for himself and his life choices. It is breaking my heart to see what gambling is doing to him and his relationship with his girfriend. 


Posted on:
Tue, 03/07/2018 - 08:23

Merry go round


Hi Alison unfortunately you can't stop him, it sounds like he's got 2 problems, drinking and gambling. You can get help and support for yourself by calling gamcare or finding a gamanon meeting. Willpower alone isn't enough to stop and until he sees the extent of his problem it will continue. His girlfriend also needs support especially if she is enabling him. If he's sees you getting help or going to meetings it might encourage him to.

Posted on:
Tue, 03/07/2018 - 08:31



Hi Alison,

this isn't your fault. At the end of the day it's his life, his choice and there is not much you can do to make him stop. He needs to decide this on his own. I can only imagine what it must be like having to deal with it. :(

I remember that pretty well, much better than I'd like to admit. I'm fine. Nothing wrong here. I can handle it. Can't people just leave me alone? Noone knew about my problem, but people still asked me if I was ok. I just wanted to be alone in my own little bubble. Shame, self-loathing and a feeling of failure and worthlessness... I just want to put things right, don't I? Why oh why does it never work out?

It's a viscious cycle. In his own mind he probably thinks the same. He wants to put things right. Of course this is the wrong way, but he honestly believes that himself. Repeating a pattern that never works out makes him grumpy and unpleasant, to put it mildly, but admitting that he can't do it and needs help would be a failure. Gambling occupies your mind and distracts you from those negative feelings. The buzz of anticipation adds to that poisonous cocktail. It messes with your brain chemicals and the embarassment makes it even harder to break the cycle - it's got you beaten. You need to admit to that and face up to reality to finally be able to start the process of sorting things out.

We are a sneaky lot, we delude ourselves that after stopping for a while we are fine, maybe we could treat ourselves to something, or we might get our hands on some spare money, why not make it more...?

That's why a cg will never stop unless they absolutely want to. This is a behaviour we have learned over the time we were 'active' and it's hard to 'unlearn'. Until he honestly wants to stop, there unfortunately is nothing anyone could do to help him.

But you can help yourself. Tackling this is tough in itself, for everyone involved. There is help available for friends and family. Even if he might not be ready to stop yet, you (and his girlfriend) could go to a GamAnon meeting and talk to people who are in the same situation and learn about what you are up against and how to protect yourself from the impact his behaviour has on you. This isn't easy. It's a long and exhausting road, but you don't have to walk it alone.

I hesitated to post here, and some of the friends and family might come by and add a bit more to my poor attempt here. I just wanted to say that you are not alone.

I wish you all the best and keep on posting. :)

Posted on:
Tue, 03/07/2018 - 13:45

Cynical wife


Sorry to hear what’s going on but the only way that your life is going to change is if you start regular AlAnon and GamAnon meetings. The same applies to his GF. You can go together or separately.

Meetings will teach you how to live your life without enabling but also you going and or the GF going  states the existence of a problem. 

Keep your focus on you.


Posted on:
Tue, 10/07/2018 - 12:06

Forum admin


Hi Alison,

Welcome to the forum, and thanks for your posts.

I can understand your anxiety and frustration regarding your son’s denial of his gambling problem, and I do empathise with your situation. Since your son is not admitting to having gambling problem, he’s making it difficult for himself to get the necessary help and support that he requires to overcome his gambling problem, and this is affecting everyone close to him especially you (his mum).

Do keep encouraging him to contact us for help, and we are ready to support him every step of the way if he’d follow our advice on strategies.

We can even refer him for counselling if that would bring positive outcome to his gambling problem, and all our services are free and confidential.

Like a fellow member stated above, try and get help and support for yourself from us, and maybe attend Gamanon meetings as well for more support. Also keep reading posts from our forum for more strategies on how to support your son.

How about calling our free phone Helpline on: 0808 8020 133, and speak to one of our advisers about your concerns.

Our lines are open everyday from 8.00am to midnight.

I wish you the best in your effort to help your son to overcome his gambling problem.

Take care, and keep posting!

Kind regards,