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Son's gambling addiction

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#1 Posted on:
Sat, 07/04/2018 - 13:00

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Hi! I am a new member and this is my first post. I am 60yrs and my son is 37yrs. A few days ago, my husband and I were told about our son's serious gambling addiction. Our daughter in law phoned to let us know- and that was because he had 'stolen' £10000/- from her account without her knowledge. This was the first time we knew of his addiction- it was heart breaking and gut wrenching! We thought we knew our son- a kind, decent, intelligent anf honest human being!! we believe that he still is all of that- but some how along the way he has been completely taken over by the addiction/illness. It has turned him into a clever liar, moody, secretive and distant person. I now know why!! Cant understand where we went wrong and how we could have missed the signs and been so stupid and completely in the dark!

The gambling must have started sometime after he left home for University and was introduced to it by one of his flat mates. But since he lived away from home most of the year, we were not aware of it at all. Now thinking back, after graduation, he got a well paid job, and the good income must have been feeding his gambling addiction. After a couple of years, he suffered a mental breakdown, lost his job and came to live at home, and enrolled for a further degree. We were still not aware of anything different and attributed his depression and mood swings to his recent breakdown . We supported him through this dark period in the best way that we could.After his graduation, he got a fairly well paid job, but then he rang me one day, to tell me that he had debts of  around £12000/ on credit cards. This was the first shock! We did not have large savings and I had to really scrape and scrounge from all our saving pots to pay off this debt. The explanation he gave was during his days at University the expenses just had built up etc etc. I believed him! My son was honest, was'nt he???Few years went on, he got married and lived with his wife. He no longer maintained regular contact with us - irregular, occasional phonecalls and the one odd short visit or two (when I had suffered a heart attack!) I even joked with him-'What do I have to do, for me to see you??!!'

Then,early last year, he lost his job  and was without a job for nearly 9months. He did not tell us this for all these months, and we believed that he had a job that kept him busy, and now being married they had their own happy lives!(His reason for not telling me was that he did not want to worry me!!)

But one day he calls to tell me about his job loss, and that he has accumulated  a debt of £15000!!!!! I nearly had another heart attack and my legs went wobbly and my hands were shaking so much that I could barely hold the phone! He said he needed that money to repay the creditcard loans as he had used to pay the rent and all the other bills,while he  had no job or income.(what he did not tell me was that his wife who does have a job, had being paying for it all!)

We had some more money by this time as we we had just sold our house and had some additional savings (he knew that!!) So mug that I am , we decided to clear all the debts as the interest paid out was at such a high rate! 

Then a few days ago , out of the blue, I get this call from my daughter in law, and the whole story erupts! Apparently she and her family had discovered his addiction and yet kept it to themselves !! She was getting all the moral support from her parents etc! But when he took the money out of her savings account, that was the last straw for her and she phoned and told us everything!

The last blow was when we received this phonecall -with another compiled debt of £16000/-!!!! and that was the first time we heard that all the money was feeding or repaying his gambling debts!

He was ashamed and remorseful and said this was the end.He is determined to change and overcome his addiction.He has booked an appointment to see a debt counsellor, his wife has taken charge of all the accounts and money. He did seem to have reached the end of his lying cheating duplicitious life. I think he was also relieved that it was finally out  in the open- and I am hoping and praying and giving him all the support so that he can get rid of this disease. We feel completely betrayed and I dont know how long it will take to fully trust him again. But I really do hope this addiction can be overcome and there is light at the end of the tunnel! It is very early days but  have hope and cant give up on my son! He is a good person and we love him dearly!!

Posted on:
Sat, 07/04/2018 - 16:58

facinguptoit

Joined:
2017-06-24

My Goodness Pam60, your story is almost the same as our own except our son hasn't amassed such huge debts. Your final sentence sums it up, yes they are good people and Heaven alone knows why this disease/affliction/illness should affect THEM. Why him you ask yourself I bet, where did we go wrong? I can't honestly help you as we are struggling to understand but know that you are not alone and you have so much sympathy. Has your son agreed to contact Gamcare or something like it? Ours hasn't although I did give him the phone number and website address. I'm hoping he will contact someone. Can I suggest that you do too, I spoke to a wonderful counseller just the other day, it helped.....

Good luck to your son Pam, and good luck to you too; I am sure you are very proud of your daughter-in-law, she loves him too and is willing to support him - surely while our boys have so much support they can come through this nightmare.

 

Posted on:
Tue, 10/04/2018 - 15:54

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Hi 'facinguptoit'. This 'forum' is new to me (in fact this whole thing is so new to me) I am still trying to let it sink in, understand  and believe its true- so I can face it without bursting into tears! How did we miss the signs so badly? But thinking back, it was quite naive of me to believe what was being told was the truth and trust him implicitly! That was my big mistake, in retrospect. But my son really is the most decent, kind, honest(except about this !) and intelligent human being. So the thought of something like this could happen to him never even crossed my mind! He is going to see a counseller today - and Im just praying so hard that it will help and he can turn his life around. He seemed so determined to change, and I do want to believe that he can. But I also feel so betrayed by him that it might take a while for him to regain my trust again. Hope - and pray- thats what I am doing right now!! Thanks for you kind words and support- it means a lot!

 

Posted on:
Tue, 10/04/2018 - 17:14

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Hi Pam60 just remember that giving a compulsive gambler is not helping them. They are compulsive liars. You are powerless over their addiction and they are the only ones who can stop. You have to learn to say no and try and see why you were so happy to help. You are also in need of some help and support dealing with this. You have given him a lot of money and that in itself is a lot to come to terms with.

Posted on:
Tue, 10/04/2018 - 22:48

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Yes- I know that only now. I did not know about his gambling addiction until now and was naive to believe all his earlier lies as I took it to be the truth! Now that I have just learnt where the money was going- its not going to happen again. my first post was dicatated by me and typed by a friend. And I just read and noticed she had misheard the figures and made a mistake- but they are huge amounts just the same. I cannot afford to 'help' again - He has sought help and I pray that it will help him to change his ways. I am struggling with this betrayal, and finding it hard to sleep at night. It is on my mind all the time -hanging over my head like a dark grey cloud.I am not sure if there is help available for members of the family affected by this. You are right - I do need help in coming to terms with it and dealing with it . 

Posted on:
Wed, 11/04/2018 - 09:45

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi Pam60,

If you are looking for support frpm people in similar situations to then GamAnon is a good place to start. http://gamanon.org.uk

Unfortyunately i am the gambler in my life, but my mum used to go to GamAnon meetings and what she learnt there really did help her and me in the long term.

She learnt why she needed to say no to me, no matter what i said or did. There was times where i had no money to get to work and even when I begged her for it she wouldnt give me any. That meant on occasions I had to walk 3/4 miles to get there. If i couldnt afford food I could go to her and she could feed me, but at no point would she give me any money. As hard as it may feel in the beginning you have to believe that playing hardball is the best way to help your son in the long term.

Im not saying it will get as bad as that for your son but thought you might be interested to hear from someone who has been there and is now over 800 days gamble free.

I really do wish you well.
Damo

Posted on:
Wed, 11/04/2018 - 10:04

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Hi Pam you can call gamcare and talk to someone. As Damo says a gamanon meeting is great support. There are more parents than partners in the meeting I go to. Talk on here too.

Posted on:
Thu, 12/04/2018 - 08:34

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Thanks Damo & Merry go round! I will def join gamanon. Damo- is there light at the end of the tunnel? Do you ever get over the 'urge'? Have you completely over the addiction or is it like fighting an ongoing battle for life? 

Posted on:
Thu, 12/04/2018 - 09:26

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi Pam, I am 38 years old and as hard as it is to admit, everything your son has done, I have done...and worse.

However there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel but it takes hard work and your son really has to be ready to make the effort to stop. It took me 18 years and several failed attampets to get to where I am now. 

I have come around to the fact that I will always be a gambling addict and am 1 bet away from starting the cycle again, i just canmt control myself when i get going. I try to live by the rule that as long as I never have that first bet then there will be no second, third and so on.

Counselling is excellent but I would recommend getting your son to go to GA. The thought of it may be scary for him, and he may say that he doesnt need it, but what harm can it do him to give it a go if he is serious.

I dont come on to this site very often these days but when i do the first part of the forum i go into is the Friends and Family. It gives me a reminder of all the pain that can be caused by gambling. 

I dont think you have mentioned if you daughter in law is going to stay with him, she would have every reason not to, but if she is then going to GamAnon would be a good idea for her as well.

Hopefully we get to see some more positive posts from you in the future.

Damo

Posted on:
Wed, 18/04/2018 - 11:31

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Thanks Damo, I really appreciate your support and adice. You are about the same age as my son, but you seem to have started on the path to recovery 18years ago. He has just come out with the truth about his addiction, only because he realised that he has finally realised -its the end of the road- now or never (thats how he said that he felt) My daughter in law is giving him a lot of support and encouragement , and has also taken over the 'finances', cut of his credit cards etc. She has decided to stay with him, but made it clear that it would depend on how things progress from here. I do not blame her at all if she decides otherwise, but her support means a lot to him and his recovery process. So I just hope she loves him enough to stand by him through this very difficult time. I will definitely ask both of them to get in touch with GA. At the moment he feels very positive - but I know that as with any addiction, it only takes that first temptation to give in - ' just one tiny bet' , or 'just a little drink that cant do much harm' -and then it all starts to go downhill again! But I really pray that he (and you) can stay strong- there is more to life and so much more you can do to make it a worthy life for yourselves. Damo, stay strong and positive! You are also in my prayers ! 

Posted on:
Thu, 19/04/2018 - 07:28

gamparentanon

Joined:
2016-04-22

Pam

Your story is almost a copy of our story as parents who have dealt with similar and the shock you felt brings back awful memories.. You are not on your own in this as you will read from other parents on here. In our case the debts were maybe not quite so high but they were high enough that we were using  hard earned savings to bail out and we have had to forgo many plans for the future. But it came to a point  when they hit rock bottom was when when the bailing out had to stop and they had to find their own solutions of sorting the debts and start learning to manage their money.  The partner sounds wonderfully supportive and is doing all the right things like monitering finances etc. She had every right to walk out on him as gamblers put their partners and all their family at risk financially and emotionally. Like you, she loves your son and she can probably see the better sides of him and she is giving him this one chance to redeem himself. He is obviously bright with potential but will unfortunately need to be watched for a very long time. You and his partner must not take the eye off the ball with him - there is a lot of trust issue that needs building up again.  I really hope he takes in all the help and advice offered and goes on to have a good future. He is lucky to have your support and now the secret is out it will be more difficult for him to gamble. I hope you are taking care of yourself and your health has improved. 

Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Posted on:
Thu, 19/04/2018 - 18:11

facinguptoit

Joined:
2017-06-24

Hello again Pam60, I haven't felt strong enough to come on here for a couple of weeks because I have been trying to convince myself that our son has stuck by his word and stopped gambling but today I feel sure he hasn't stopped, he sounds so stressed and is bullying, assertive and arrogant which isn't "him" so I feel sure he has succumbed again despite his promises that he would contact Gamcare if he felt the urge! He is about to lose his home I'm sure and heaven knows what will become of him..

I am glad your son has at stood by his word and seen a counsellor, that must be a HUGE step on the road to redmption. Please do contact someone yourself too, phone the number on here - I am sure it will help, it helped me! And reading all the other posts must be a comfort, ITDamo's 800 day free from gambling report is so heartening. Good luck

 

 

Posted on:
Sun, 29/04/2018 - 15:49

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Hi 'Facinguptoit', Really sorry to hear the news from your last post. I really feel for you and hope and pray that your 'suspicions' about your son going back to gambling are not true(for his sake and yours!) I know that this addiction changes their core personality and makes them into someone they are not. In my case, my son had become so sectretive, irritable, uncommunicative and used to lie to cover up or get his way. I am just hoping that he has really understood how this affects his close family and also that he can never go back to it again- not even buy a scratchcard or lottery ticket! I do hope that you have the support to see you through this again. But though this may seem like your responsibility, it really is their decision, their will power and ultimately their life. As a mother, I think we do tend to take the blame, share the pain and worry ourselves sick - just wanting our children to be healthy and happy(that is what I pray for!) But we also have to remember, to support them in the best way that we can, but not shoulder all the pain and blame. I know this can be hard , but the only way to support them through this is to be strong ourselves and not make ourself sick with worry. So do stay strong,  positive and try and communicate with your son if you do get the opportunity. Let him know that you are on his side and will support him to battle this. I think they need to be reminded of this as in their minds they feel the guilt and then the need to shut everybody out is the only way to deal with the problem. Just stay strong and look after yourself.Take care!

ITDAMO- Hope you are well and looking forward to celebrating your 1000th day! Keep at it and dont ever give in to the temptation- it is just not worth it! Good luck! Keep well! And post when you can:)

Gamparentanon- Thanks for your post which gives hope and I know that Im not alone. I realise that this is going to be a long, ongoing, lifelong struggle! I really can't understand how this 'vice/addiction' got hold of him since he has not seen anyone gamble or bet or anything! But really We are now just trying to deal with the present. 'Trust' takes a battering , and it will take a long time for him to earn it back. I trusted him implicitly - thats the kind of boy he is/was! Now that its out in the open, I sincerely hope and pray that he does not feel guilty, does not have to hide anything from us and does not feel the need to lie. Its still early days and I pray that he can be strong and overcome this addiction. Trying to be strong and supportive!

 

Posted on:
Sat, 12/05/2018 - 16:11

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Hello 'facinguptoit'.

Have not seen a post from you since your last one- so hoping that all is well! I have also not been active on the forum as Im just trying to deal with the situation and feelings. Some days are ok, and then the reality suddenly hits me and I feel  a gut wrenching pain deep in my being- its the sense of betrayal and trust being annihilated that hits me like a sledgehammer. The only way I can surface from that drowning feeling is by convincing myself that it will get better, he  will be ok and will beat the addiction. And then I pray to God that he will .......I know this is not 'my' problem, but as a mother, however much I try, at the back of my mind the worry is always lurking somewhere. I guess the pain will ease with time... does anyone else feel the same??

Posted on:
Sat, 12/05/2018 - 16:15

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Hi Damo - Hope you are well! Keep strong!

Posted on:
Mon, 14/05/2018 - 11:38

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi Pam,
Nice to hear from you and everything is all good my end.

As for a mothers, they will always worry :).....I told my mum about this site and she logs on every now and then. She text me the other day to see if all was ok as she noticed I had been on here a bit more recently. I'm not sure the fear of it happening again will ever leave her unfortunately.

Anyway hope things are improving for you.
Damo

Posted on:
Tue, 15/05/2018 - 17:58

facinguptoit

Joined:
2017-06-24

Hello Pam60, yes I know exactly what yu mean about not being active on here trying to deal with the situation and feelings. It is so hard isn't it?

For some days I felt very positive for our son, he did find his rent money in the end and for a while seemed more like himself and even happy. But today I felt sure he has succumbed again, he was rude on the phone to me and edgy, a sure sign he has lapsed. He denied it when I asked him, but he is an accomplished liar and not very convincing! We have told him time and time again that we are totally behind him and will support him through this although I have said I can't give him any more money. But I now find my resolve is slipping, I am trying to be strong, but I can't bear the thought of him failing yet I am so sure he will.........I feel weak and that isn't any use to him or us. I am tempted to just keep away from him.........

 

 

 

Posted on:
Mon, 16/07/2018 - 08:05

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Hi! I am back. Just learnt yesterday that my son has been gambling again. I thought he was doing well. In the last few days he had become uncommunicative- told me he was very busy at work. He did not reply to my texts. Then when I point blank asked him if he had been gambling, he admitted that he had been to a casino twice. It started with an email he received from the casino- saying they were celebrating their 60th birthday- there were free prize draws, lots of money to be won for free and he was one of the chosen invitees!! Ofcourse this is a marketing ploy and entrapment- a way to lure you back in to gamble. He succumbed to the temptation and was back there. Im gutted(again)! He was too- when I spoke to him. He knows it was just wrong, the guilt is eating him, he was sobbing his heart out. It just broke my heart to hear him in that state. This addiction is evil and just so hard to deal with. I am not lending him anymore money-'tough love'! But need to put other measures in place so that he can save himself before giving in to the temptation when it appears! Feeling helpless and cant bear to see how this addiction has got a hold over my good, decent, intelligent, kind hearted boy!! Just wanted him to have a normal happy life!! But this damn addiction has ruined everything, it seems. I know there are so many people,family members, friends-dealing with other kinds of problems that life randomly throws in their paths. Each one has to deal with them and face up to them. I think this dice was rolled at us(no pun intended!) - so I guess we have to do whatever best we can to help him(other than bail him out financially). If anyone has any suggestions- please help! 

Posted on:
Mon, 16/07/2018 - 09:37

greenflash

Joined:
2017-12-31

Hi Pam60.  Sorry to see you back here again. Can I ask how your son was in a financial position to go to a casino twice. As an ex gambler I believe the financial blocks alongside willpower are absolutely necessary, willpower alone is simply not enough. The temptation is always there, gambling companies always have wonderful offers to lure gamblers in, but without access to finance we cannot gamble. There will be days when the willpower is not as strong for any number of reasons.

I tell you this as a gambler who has not gambled for 7 months now. The first few months were tough and I had the support of my partner, I know there were days I struggled and I am grateful I no longer had access to finances, as I may have gambled again.

Is your sons' partner still standing by him and looking after the finances, if so find out what happened that he was able to go to a casino, something has clearly gone wrong. Many on here have relapses, talk about it with him and see what can be done to avoid a repeat. If your son is 100% determined to quit gambling then he should have no issue with handing over all his finances, as to put it simply he cannot be trusted with money. Do not accept any excuses from him either and do not give him money yourself.

Posted on:
Mon, 16/07/2018 - 10:01

gamparentanon

Joined:
2016-04-22

Hi Pam

I know what you are feeling. Unfortunately they may go a while gfree and some think it is safe enough just to have that one flutter without it spiralling out of control. Unfortunately it does not work that way and they end up back at square one after all that  hard work to sort things. Also, it is easy for them to convince us that they are doing well so we may take our eye off the ball and give them a little more freedom with the money.  Maybe he had access to cash for the casino or must have had access to some funds that served as pocket money.  It is important that he is showing such remorse now, much easier than him being in denial and he was willing to open up to you.  You and his partner need to sit down with him and get access to all his finances and make sure he has not taken out payday loans etc. Get regular access to his bank statements, online or otherwise.  He needs to know that it will be difficult to get his hands on cash or people are monitering his spending. Try not to bail him out this time. If he has debts then he needs to get financial advice. See what mailing lists he might have on the gambling front and get his name taken off. Get him to put any blocks back on his phone, casinos  etc.  Get him to ring Gamcare or Gamanon himself to speak to someone.  He can get over this if he puts his mind to it. He is lucky to have your support and hopefully his partner. It is a rollercoaster ride but if he can learn to deal with those temptations and the bad days without resorting to the gambling that will be an achievement. It is maddening that these gambling companies throw these free offers out and the real intention is for nice people like your son to get sucked in to breaking their finances and ruining their lives. As a parent it is heartbreaking to watch what they are going through. All I can say is that in our case, quite a while has passed, with ups- and- downs like yours and we can now see light at the end of the tunnel. But it will be a long time before we dare take our eye off things completely.

Good luck and take care.

Posted on:
Tue, 17/07/2018 - 14:55

Egdam

Joined:
2018-06-01

Hi Pam,

Are you sure your son wants to stop? Or has he just said it because he was caught? What I'm trying to get at, is if his other half had not caught the money out of her account, would he still be doing it?

The fact that he has recently gambled again indicates that he may not necessarily have wanted to stop in the first place. Compulsive Gamblers are liars, I should know, I've taken £3k from my parents for the same reason. I have opened up and am paying that back however.

I think its time that you and his other half really took control from him, the recent trip to the casino indicates a few things

1- he didn't put the necessary blocks in place. Seeing a councillor is no use if you have not self excluded from anywhere

2- he still has control over money

3- He has possibly lied to you and his other half to keep you at arms length so he can let his addiction do its thing.

Unfortunately for us compulsive gamblers, we are on a journey with a disease and it is ultimately us and us only that can stop that. However getting the strong blocks in place, forfeiting money control and speaking to people (GA/Councillor) give us a significantly better chance. If you let the disease have any sniff of opportunity, it will take it, and more hurt will be had.

I really feel for you and I hope that your son get gamble free. Might I suggest that you (or someone you know) buys a book called - Easyway to stop gambling. Its by Allen Carr. This looks at what gambling does in the psyche, the way we think about it, why we gamble and why we do what we do. Ultimately it trains your brain (in my opinion anyway) not to need gambling.

This book wont be much use to you. But if you cant get control over your sons finances, you could maybe make him read that book. I'd like to think once he reads it, he wont even want to gamble.

E

Posted on:
Tue, 17/07/2018 - 22:13

Cynical wife

Joined:
2015-06-23

My heart always sinks at the idea of anybody making an active addict in denial sit down and talk/open up about it. The non gambler can sit down and talk  until the cows come home but an active gambler won’t be listening. It’s really a whole lot better not to go there.

The trouble is that there’s a whole host of things that he could do to help himself - but none that he can be forced to do. He chooses whether to keep on using or whether to seek recovery. You and/or his GF can’t actually make him do or read or call or whatever.  And the addiction isn’t going to go away, even if he holds off using for a few days. 

The question for you is what are you going to do, or not do, about the situation that you are in? Start meetings, or not?  Seek counselling, or not? Hand over the next bailout, or not? Tolerate more of the intolerable, or not? The same goes for his GF.

CW

Posted on:
Fri, 20/07/2018 - 10:35

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi Pam,

Really sorry to hear how things are going, but its good that your son was honest when you brought it up. That has to be progress right?

Did you ever look at getting to a gamanon meeting? To help your son long term you need to know how to deal with things in the short term and I believe there is no better place to get the best advice.

Damo

 

Posted on:
Sun, 22/07/2018 - 11:51

Pam60

Joined:
2018-04-07

Thank You all for your support and suggestions! I am taking on board all of them - Egdam, I have bought the Allen Carr book you have suggested. I am reading it now- and I am really getting to understand the 'psyche' of a gambler. Hopefully, this will help me in the support I give my son. he is also going to read it. He really does want to beat this evil addiction which has changed his personality and life.ITDamo- yes, I am feeling a bit more positive since my last post. we have had a very honest talk and both of us feel thebetter for it. We know it is a problem- an addiction- but it has to be beaten! He has agreed to attend gamanon meetings and also get counselling through Gancare. I am also seeking counselling through Gamcare as it has been very difficult to deal with (esp the relapse), and it was affecting my health. I pray that he will stay strong and not give in to the 'temptation' or 'urge' to gamble. 

Egdam- I have taken all 3 of your points and will reinforce all those measures -not leaving anything to 'trust'. Yes, his partner has taken control of the finances, but he did find a way around it when she was away for a few days to visit her parents! A compulsive gambler becomes so devious and finds his way to to the casino or wherever to get his 'high' or thrill!! but praying and going to do more to tighten measures to stop it happening again. It really is such a slippery uphill slope! But we will make it!

Posted on:
Sun, 22/07/2018 - 18:32

Lethe

Joined:
2016-12-10

If he really wants to beat the addiction rather than simply telling everyone what they want to hear to get them off his back there are a lot of measures he can take which together will cut off his access to cash and gambling virtually immediately. It's not a case of staying strong or will power. He's beyond that point. There have to be active blocks in place alongside attendance at GA and counselling. If he's taking half hearted measures he's leaving loopholes and loopholes get used.

It's not in your interests to be too understanding. It leaves you open to manipulation and deceit. Learn about the addiction and what you're up against by all means but use it to protect yourself. He can get the support and understanding he needs from GA where they 'get it' in a way we non gamblers never can.