I’ve been with my other half for 7 years now and we have children together. I’ve always known he had a gambling issue, about 5 years ago he sought help and I thought he was better. Then about a year ago I found out he was gambling again and it now seems to be worse then ever. He had phone counselling once a week for a few months and although at the time i thought it helped, it didn’t. We’re now at a point where we’re looking at possible rehab for him or if not trying to find more intense help.
he says he wants to change but I’ve heard it all before, am I doing the right thing by staying with him and trying to support him, or how do you know when it’s time to say enough is enough. Other than his gambling we have no further issues but me and the kids are all he has as he isn’t close with his family. Can gamblers really ever change?
Thank you for reaching out and posting, it sounds as though things are getting to decision time for you. Many gamblers can and do change, however that is very much down to personal motivation and only you and your partner know how much motivation he has.
It can be so hard when you have heard someone promise to change but you haven't seen any evidence of it, even though it does sound promising that he is considering some treatment.
As you have found a gambling addiction doesn't just affect the gambler but those around them too. So until he does take those steps to get the help and support he needs, the main thing for you is to find ways to protect you and the children from the effects of his gambling and ensure you have support in place for you too.
To this end I would strongly suggest you call our HelpLine on 0808 8020 133 or access our NetLine to discuss the free help and support we offer (including one to one weekly telephone support) to anyone affected by someone elses's gambling.
We can see why you are wondering about more intensive support for your husband, obviously that is something that he could ring us about to explore, but It is worth letting you know that there is live- in gambling rehabilitation available through Gordon Moody. If he calls into our Services too we could go through all the options of support available to him as well.
We are really pleased you have reached out and look forward to your call. We don't want you to feel alone in this, there is a lot of support available in supporting you when faced with such difficult decisions.
there are many things a gambler can do to change but they have to do it for themselves. Going to rehab won't fix him, it's not like taking a tablet and he's better. He may never be 'better'. He will always be an addict. Getting well comes from within. Gambling is a choice.
Initially giving up access to money is a barrier that can be effective. As most are gambling online blocking software, signing up to gamstop too.
We cannot say whether it's right for you to stay with him, that is your choice.
what I would say is get support for yourself and find out all you can. Gamcare and Gamanon are there for that purpose. Gamanon is specifically for f&f and is online 7-9 each evening.
Yes, compulsive or problem gamblers can change. It is difficult and requires work but it is possible. They will always be problem gamblers but in recovery.
There are two sides to this. The first is abstinence, staying off a bet. That can be done with blocks like those mentioned above, taking away access to money and the different betting outlets, online or high street, as well as attending GA meetings and participating in the group, or sometimes by will power, but it's unlikely willpower alone will be successful. GA meetings work because the gambler is there with other like minded gamblers who understand and identity with the addict. No judgement is a big factor that you only seem to get within a meeting.
I'm not sure what your husband got from an hour phone call once a week unless he had work to do during the week but each to their own.
From my own experience, regular attendance at GA was key. This also helped bring about a personality change like starting to be honest as an example. When gambling I would lie about almost anything.
The second part of long term recovery is change and within GA we have a twelve step program of recovery. It involves effort and is normally done with someone helping. Experience has found that like abstinence, it is a lifetime process but having worked the program you feel ready to deal with situations that would normally send an addict back to gambling.
Some people find counselling works for them but I'm not a fan unless the counsellor has been through similar situations themselves. How do you truly empathise unless you've walked in their shoes? That's just my opinion based on my experience.
Rehab can also work as these addiction centres have the twelve step workshops at the centre of their program, run by others with experience of addiction. But they key thing about treatment centres is they are a starting point to put the addiction down, get your mind clear and then look at changing your character, look at the past and making amends where possible. Once you leave treatment centres you are expected to carry on with GA or counselling. Gamcare have affiliates around the country who work their program but tend to be counsellors rather than recovering addicts.
It's a bit long winded but the answer is that yes, the gambler can change but it takes effort on a regular basis. When he's gambling though then he hasn't got a choice. The addiction overalls everything. His relationship with you, the kids, the lies he tells or what he doesn't say. It's heart breaking because it will strip away everything without remorse. But, and it's a massive but, if he wants help then it is available and if he can just stay away from placing the first bet then he has a chance.
Here is what usually happens, a partner or loved one finds out about the gambling, usually at this stage its well manifested and only comes to light as bills go unpaid etc. The partner confronts the gambler who admits they have a gambling problem. The partner see this as a sign of acceptance and often the gambler will plead their case and promise to change and their word is taken as fact, i.e they will get help, the help they are getting is working etc. If this is the case its usually not longe before the gambler returns to the old pattern, or in my case return almost immediately even though I was getting counselling and attending GA.
Basically it boils down to this, an addict is not to be fully trusted (difficult for a partner to hear, the trust can return over time to a point but probably never 100%), so they can tell you they are doing this, that and the other but unless you see changes in their behaviour over time you will know that they have wasted their time.
You cannot control someone else's behaviour so they can go to all the counselling sessions and support groups they want, if they dont really want to stop then it wont happen.
My advice for anyone who is willing to live with a compulsive gambler is to take control of the situation, get support for yourself (which your doing), seek as much advice as possible and then make a decision on whether you want to continue in the relationship or not. It's not an easy decision and one you dont want to make lightly or in the heat of the moment. For example when you see the true scale of the gambling/debt etc your instinct maybe to blow your top and run a mile but you need time to digest it all, remember your partner is an addict and he needs help with this.
Some relationships actually improve greatly as recovery helps cut through a lot of BS and lies which can hamper normal couples. After you have sought advice and support, you need to sit down with your partner and make it clear that you will help and support him if he is willing to change and get help, he must come clean on everything and open up to you to start this process. If he is not willing to do this then the relationship is over.
Again if I were you and I chose to stay, I would demand full access to everything. You should have access to his emails, to his credit score (so you can see any debt in his name), access to his banking so you can see any transactions he makes, he should not have any cash withdrawls and if he buys something in a supermaket he should keep the receipt to prove he has not asked for cash back. If he gets paid that should be put into your account so he has no access to funds. He should register with Gamstop (be with him when he does this) so he can self exclude from all betting sites if he is registered with them. If betting shops open back up he should go into those and self exclude, you should do this with him to make sure its done.
By doing this he will know you are serious and it will help stop the lies.
All the above actions are barriers to protect you all from gambling harm, and they will make it difficult for him to gamble. The next step is to get help to change his behaviour, the 12 step program in GA is a good place to start. He should find his nearest meeting and start attending, he should open up and start being honest about everything. If he does and commits to recovery then you could have a great future together.