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Son's gambling addiction

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#1 Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 09:40

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

 My son is only 23 years old and has gambling addiction which has been out of control for the last two year, he has been in rehab three times. The lastest was November where he was doing really well very positive, then my Father died his grandfather and now sadly he slowly is returning to his old ways. We have probably spent £100,000 or more  bailing him out and paying for rehab which is £16,000 for 28 days, but the aftercare  is not good.  We pay for rent on his  house and pay all the bills, his girlfriend was pregnant and they have a baby son who is now a year old. She has gone back to work part-time, but very young herself and does not protect her money. She got paid on Friday and he has gambled all the money as he has the details of her bank card. We have our own company which he works for, but he has hardly done a full week in the last year. He has had two major operation on a shoulder injury which has not helped, as this has stopped him working, but not all the time. He has lied and cheated us out of money he has  stolen from us when he was living at home and sometimes when we were at work he would go to our home and look for any spare money he could find. I blame myself and feel so ashamed of him. He goes to meeting sometimes but he said in Gambling Anon he comes out of meetings and wants to gamble even more. He never sleeps and his apperance is terrible he has made a doctor's appoinment today. I am not sure if they will offer any help, I have also asked him to contact Breakeven to see if they can offer any help. He has asked us to pay his girlfriend the money back £500, I am cross with her as I told her to change her bank card, but she did not listen and this is not the first time he has done this to her. My husband and I are at breaking point and this is really taking a toll on my husband health. I just do not know where to go from here, I feel I have tried everything, but as a mother I cannot walk away from him. A year ago he did try to commit suicide.  I blame myself I have always tried to control him and organise his life, only because I care, but I realise now that this has not helped him. I just wish things were normal again, he has a beautiful son but I sometimes fear he wants help but does not really want it enough yet .

 

 

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 10:13

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Hi Lily I'm sorry to read your story. It sounds like you all need help. Gambling will affect the whole family and those close to the gambler. Sometimes coming from a meeting they will make excuses, not like what they hear, many dont like GA. But the rehab, self help, willpower isn't working. They say the gambler only stops when he/she wants to. In my experience no access to money and GA is the only way for my husband to stop. After 30 years he's finally realised gambling has beaten him. You cannot keep spending your money because it isn't helping. You need to help yourself learn how to deal with an addict. No more bailouts. You can only advise his girlfriend, it's up to her, she will soon realise that he will continue until she safeguards herself. I would suggest you find a gamanon meeting get some support. This is a problem that isn't going away. Call gamcare get some advice. Look after yourselves. The doctor should help him, he may need medication if he's depressed. My husband went to gp and he told him to go to GA. All this can help him but only if he wants to stop and is 100% honest. 

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 10:46

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi lily, I am really sorry to hear what is happening with your son. I am the gambler in my family and I put my mum through all the same things that your son has done to you. I’ve stolen money from family/partner/work and I had a half hearted attempt at suicide as well. I am now over 800 days gamble free and I wanted you to see that it can be done.

As much as you want to help him, some of the things you are doing are enabling your son. I would recommend educating yourself fully on this addiction. As mgr has said you can call Gamcare or even better get yourself along to a Gamanon meeting.

You will get some excellent advice on here from people who have been through similar experiences.

I really wish you well and I hope your son decides it time to get some help.

Damo

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 11:09

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

Thank you both for your comments and I know i have to stop enabling and be stronger.

Damo what made you stop gambling ?

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 11:29

Forum admin

Joined:
2010-11-01

Dear lily1968

It's heartbreaking to hear how your son's gambling is affecting you all. I just want you to know that GamCare is here for you and his partner, as well as your son. At the end of the day, you can't change how your son behaves, or how his girlfriend behaves. The only person you can control is you. You need to look after and protect yourself, for his sake and especially for your own. You know what they say, put on your own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs. Why not give us a call on the GamCare helpline on 0808 8020 133? Or chat to an adviser on the NetLine

You've had some great support from forum users here, so keep posting,

best wishes,

Deirdre
Forum Admin

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 11:32

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

That’s a very good question and not an easy one for me to answer.

Some people get found out and it all starts from there...that didn’t happen to me.

I remember my last night of gambling like it was yesterday, I hadn't really slept well for a while but I worked away from home so wasn’t around people at night. I wasn’t concentrating at work and it felt like I had the whole weight of the world on my shoulders.

That night I lost a whole load of money and I just couldn’t do it to myself anymore. It was the first time I had really blown it since I had met my wife and had a son. The thought of what I put them through (without them knowing of my gambling) was what gave the drive to turn my life around.

I called my mum and told her everything, didn’t hide a single thing from her that night. Not because I wanted help but because I needed to tell someone and then in the morning I started the process of cleaning up the mess. It took me a long time to get as far as I have but these days I can look at myself in the mirror.

Sorry If I went on a bit there and to be honest I actually got a bit teary writing it.

Its not an easy thing to get over, however it can be done but at times it will need tough love and that’s the one thing you can control.

I really wish you and your son well.

Damo

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 15:25

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

Thank you for your replies and Damo for tell me your story.  I told my son today that if he did not contact gamcare and get some help then I will not help him or his girlfriend with money. He has asked me to pay the money back to her that he gambled £500, I have told him I will not even discuss it, unless he contacts gamcare and starts getting help, is this the right thing to do ?

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 18:22

Lethe

Joined:
2016-12-10

Hi

I'm sorry to see what's going on.

Bailing him out doesn't help as you've found to your cost. Personally I would start drawing the line starting with the £500 he's stolen. It's his to pay back as indeed are all and any other debts he may have run up. No discussion. No conditions. A gambler won't stop until the pain of stopping is less than the pain of continuing. All the time he has a safety net (you) there's no incentive for him even to begin to look for help. He needs to do it for him and because he wants to, not to please or placate anyone else. The only way you can hasten the moment that happens (and it may never) is to leave him to deal with the consequences of what he's doing. 

Posted on:
Tue, 01/05/2018 - 18:32

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Hi Lily yes but be careful of 'deals'. Don't say if you do this, I'll do that. It's fine to say you're not paying anymore of his bills or debt. It's his debt and he's used to you paying it for him. He needs to get help full stop. He could ask for help and never follow through, say he's doing counselling and not turn up. You have to see change. But you have to change you and you've made the first step. The thing is not to pay at all. He stole from her, he has to pay it back. Time to face up to what he's doing. If you pay her and he promises to pay you back, it won't work. It's going to be tough, he'll  beg or get angry , anything to get you to pay. Secure your finances, and valuables. Try and stay strong. Get some help for you too.

Posted on:
Wed, 02/05/2018 - 08:44

Cynical wife

Joined:
2015-06-23

If you can see for yourself that your financial “help” is simply paying for his gambling, then it becomes easier to refuse to continue. You’ll still need support, available via GamAnon and GC counselling. The onus is on you to take that help.

Stopping your enabling doesn’t mean that he’ll immediately go for help. That’s fine, provided that you’re stopping for your own sake first and foremost, so there is a purpose and the purpose is not to manipulate him.  If he’s prepared to get help, then he will get help, regardless of what you do or don’t do. The reality is that things will seem worse before they seem better but all change is difficult. People change when staying as they are becomes the worse option. 

Keep the focus on you.

CW

Posted on:
Wed, 02/05/2018 - 14:09

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

 Thank you for all your advice again it is really helping and I do know deep down that I cannot give him any money. But what happens if he turns to crime, he knows some seriously bad people and before he has borrowed money and they threated to come around our house,  we ended up paying. Has anyone been in this situation as I know my son will go to these people and borrow money and then blackmail us to pay the debt back.  He will say they are going to seriously beat him or come to our house and trash the house. I am not sure in this sitution  if I am strong enough as I am scared of his safety and ours ?

Posted on:
Wed, 02/05/2018 - 14:36

Amom

Joined:
2014-10-09

So sorry for your situation :(. The only thing I know for sure is if you continue giving in to the blackmail (implied or otherwise) this will never end for either of you.

I know you love your son... do what's right and loving for him and let the addict starve to death.

Cathy

Posted on:
Wed, 02/05/2018 - 15:48

Cynical wife

Joined:
2015-06-23

Part of the manipulation involves exaggerating what will happen if you don’t pay up.

Remember that gambling is his, the debts are his, the choice to use criminal means to obtain money would be his and the responsibility for the situation is his. Don’t take it from him.

CW

Posted on:
Mon, 14/05/2018 - 13:27

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

Hi all, nothing really has changed and I am still giving my son money, he tells me he is going to meetings, but I am never sure. I am attending my first anon family group tonight. I am hoping they are going to give me the strength to stop enabling my son, I am very scared for the future for us all and where it will end.  

 

Posted on:
Mon, 21/05/2018 - 07:00

Martin67

Joined:
2010-08-17

Hi Lilly, has there been any update on your situation?

I wish you and your family all the best. 

Posted on:
Tue, 22/05/2018 - 10:03

gamparentanon

Joined:
2016-04-22

Hi

Have been in the same situation as you. Until they can admit they have a problem and actually want to recover there is no remorse and no compassion for you I am afraid. They are just blinded by the need and the fear of the other people they are in debt to.  It can come to a stop but the trick is to get him to face up to the damage and let you take over his finances (which is not an instant cure but certainly a deterrent). Not easy and very frightening for you. You need to be very hard and refuse to bail him whatever threats. If he says people are coming round then get legal advice to protect yourself. I think you need to ring Gamcare for some professional channels to go through and get more support. When it comes to you being so intimidated - and I know what that is like - you need to look after your own well-being and your finances. I know what it is like to stop them ending up in prison. If you withold funds and tell him you will not put up with people coming to the house  he may well hit rock bottom and then realise what he is doing. I feel so sorry for you but there are ways and there can be light at the end of the tunnel. He is only young and there is still time to work on him. He is lucky to have you caring for him.

Take care.

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 12:42

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

hi all

I am still in this horrible position we paid more debts £1800 to dealers which he borrowed for gambling but also *******. He went away for 10 days and came back postiitve and said he was going to change his life. But again today I feel he is going back to his old ways. He has been to rehab 3 times over the last two and half years he is seeing a psychiatrist at the moment. I just do not know how much more I can do or take apart from letting him go. I feel this is the only way as I cannot take the pain anymore. My question to anyone out there who would be kind enough to reply. What happens if he stops paying the dealers how do I live with myself if something happens to him .

From a very desperate mother

 

from

 

 

 

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 13:14

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Hi Lilly1968. It's such a shame to hear that you are in such a desperate situation and whatever you do seems to never change anything. Did you go to a meeting? No one knows what happens if you don't pay until you stop doing it. I phoned victim support to ask these questions too, just for advice as I have never been in this position. They pointed me towards stepchange 03005552222 . Maybe you can call and talk to someone there. I think that sometimes those individuals rely on you being scared. I also think that addicts will do anything to get you to pay. They are the masters of manipulation. The advice is not to pay. Is he still with his girlfriend? I think the only realistic thing to do is encourage him to attend meetings and hopefully that will continue the recovery that he should have started in rehab. You need to get strong and find some support. Gamanon, coda (codependent) meetings. Keep talking on here. Lots of people read these posts and someone will come along and offer their support too. 

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 14:37

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi Lily,

Your son is continuing to manipulate you….he knows you will give in eventually so he has no reason to stop.

You need to shift your focus on to you. Your son is an adult and he makes his own choices and he will have to deal with the consequences of his actions. A lot of the time what is said will be made up to get what he wants…as I’ve said to you before, I’ve been there and done that.

Scroll down a few pages, of the friends and family section and look for Phoenix67’s threads. I think you might take a bit out of her story.
I really feel for you and I hope you can get the strength to start putting yourself first.

Damo

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 14:44

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

I did go to  three meetings and it did help but they were mainly wifes and girlfriends and they were just saying leave him to the other people. But when you are a mother it is for life, partners can come and go they have a choice not so easy for mothers. We have already arranged step change, but I have been paying the last year, he needs to make himself bankrupt but he won't so I am left with trying to deal with all this too. The people he owes money too are not leading companies these are serious thugs who have made threats against us too. I hate this disease and I hate seeing my son destory himself sometimes I think I would rather die then watch this play out. But you are right when he makes these threats you are not sure to believe him but you get so scared you end up paying. I know I cannot keep paying as I won't have any money left, I just pray that it will be ok . thank you Merry go round   

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 15:06

Cynical wife

Joined:
2015-06-23

The wives and girlfriends at the meeting aren’t in a better position than you and they don’t lack commitment to their husbands or partners or to their relationships. 

However with recovery comes the realisation that to carry on paying for the gambling and to carry on clearing up the gamblers’ mess and to carry on carrying the gamblers’ various burdens simply allows the gambling to continue.

That’s why they told you to let go. Because the alternative is to carry on exactly as you are which will achieve exactly what you have achieved so far.

At the end of the day, your life and how you live it is your business and your responsibility. That applies just as much to parents as to any other relationship.

CW

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 15:55

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Hi Lilly you have to persevere with meetings. Initially you won't hear what is being said. As a wife I have not come and gone. I've been married a long time and have children so will always be connected. As Damo says you're being manipulated. Your son knows you will give in. It's tough, it's really hard watching an addict self destruct. But the stepchange debt is his not yours. He should be paying it. Responsibility will never be taken if he constantly relies on you to clear everything up. Unfortunately in trying to help him you are creating a never ending cycle of destructive behaviour. He will bankrupt you, he has no concept of money he is just 'using'. Gambling to him is just another drug. You have to do something, praying it will be ok is not going to help you. If he doesn't have money he can't gamble. If he goes to loan sharks that's his problem. These people know you will pay. You have to stop the cycle. There has to be a consequence to his bad behaviour. You have to change what you are doing because it's not working. I am telling you this to help you. Basic rules are don't pay a gambler's debts, no bailouts. We all want it to get better, wake up and it's over, but that isn't going to happen. You have to do things differently.

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 17:09

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi Lily,
I totally understand that it feel different with it being a son...but as a mother you want to do whats best for him right? From someone who has been where your son is....I can tell that you are not doing whats best for him (sorry if that sounds harsh).

You say you have suggested that he bankrupts himself...so why do you continue paying stepchange for him? It will head down that path if you step back and let him have to deal with it. I set up a trust deed in 2001 and I paid it for 2 months....was over 10 years before I could get any credit of any sort. That was the only thing that stopped me getting into anymore debt as I continued to gamble.

Damo
 

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 18:40

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

Also I spoke to stepchange at length about loan sharks. They can help you. It's not about debt plans. Also if you are threatened by a 'thug' call the police or stepchange. 

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 21:16

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

Thank you all for your support and I am going to really try and not pay anymore . Can I ask another question we often get debt letters saying the bailiffs will be sent . Can they make us pay if it is not our debt ? . Again I do thank you for your kind words and I hope I have the strength to stop enabling him as you are all right this won’t end. I keep you posted 

Posted on:
Wed, 15/08/2018 - 22:23

Merry go round

Joined:
2017-06-08

As far as I'm aware if you can prove all possessions are yours with receipts they can't take it. I personally would not answer the door. You should seek advice from citizens advice bureau or debt camel is another website. Someone else will know more than me. 

Posted on:
Thu, 16/08/2018 - 00:52

Amom

Joined:
2014-10-09

I am the mom of a compulsive gambling son. I know you feel if you just sort this out all will be fine... it won't. Gambling addiction doesn't disappear because the finances have been fixed. Generally that just starts the cycle again as the slate has been cleared. You will in fact bankrupt yourself and still not have solved anything.

I would also suggest calling the police re loan sharks.

 

Posted on:
Thu, 16/08/2018 - 15:01

lilly1968

Joined:
2018-05-01

Thank you everyone for your advice and I keep you posted and I will stop enabling my son I have to this time.

Posted on:
Fri, 17/08/2018 - 20:26

Joe-90

Joined:
2016-10-05

Hi Lilly,

Very sorry to hear what you are going through, can feel the pain and desperation in your words. He is your son and you are trying to control this situation, but you cannot unfortunalty. Like any addiction tough love is the only cure here, you tell your son no more and cut him loose, you will be there if he needs to talk etc but not one penny more. If you feel intimitaded by thugs call the police. 

I am a compulsive gambler and like the majority we only seek help when we hit rock bottom and have no where else to go. Usually this means we have gotten into serious debt and our lives have become unmanagable. In my case I ran out of funds, literally I racked up debt and could not get access to any more funds. If someone had bailed me out I would have swore blind, which I often did to myself, that I would sort out my problem but deep down knowing I would go back to gambling, and once we are back gambling its only a matter of time before we hutle towards oblivion once again. 

I ended up going to GA which helped turn my life around. But I had to want to do it, I could go to GA meetings and theraphy seession or whatever else every day of the week it would not make a bit of difference if I did not really want to stop and that is key. You want your son to sort things out but you need to cut the cord here. Once he knows there is not more bail outs he will have to get help, this will take time as he now knows if he makes things tough emotionally for you with blackmail and threats etc you will give in.

Time to stand your ground so your son can grow up and face reality. I know my words are harsh and not what you want to hear but the reality is he wont stop no matter what once he knows his mother is there as a money tree.

Posted on:
Fri, 31/08/2018 - 20:37

ITDamo

Joined:
2016-01-26

Hi Lily,

How are things? Hope you are looking after yourself.

Damo

Posted on:
Sun, 23/09/2018 - 11:27

Keith123

Joined:
2018-09-23

Hi
I was similar to your son by the sound of it. I gambled from 18 to 33, any money I could lay my hands on, be it earnings, stolen money, borrowed money, handouts from parents etc. My parents probably bailed me out around £30000 to pay off debts. In total I probably gambled around £150000. First precautions I took when stopping was to self exclude from as many online betting sites as possible, even if I didn't have an account I'd open one just so I could self exclude. I also self excluded myself from all betting shops in the town where I lived. This isn't bombproof but it does make it harder to gamble. I took all these precautionary measures when I was 33 (5 years ago) but I still look out for new online sites so I can create an account and immediately self exclude.
I'm not great at saving money and I do like spending it, but I now spend it on 4 or 5 holidays a year instead of gambling - far more enjoyable. Also since I stopped gambling my life has changed massively - met my partner, have a nice place to live (no longer a bedsit), lead a decent quality of life, decent job - I could never stick in the same job when I was gambling. I have the opportunity to gamble because I now live in an area where I'm not banned from the bookies but after 5 years of not gambling it doesn't remotely interest me, the thought of going to the bookies actually bores me. Anyway the thing that initiated my quitting was using all the self exclusion facilities available. When I was gambling I think I was convinced that I could be a pro gambler and live off it. Took 15 years to realise I couldn't. All the best to you and your son.