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Parents seeking advice on son’s gambling.

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    Our son is a 25 year old who has gambling issues since high school. It became apparent to us when we found
    out that he was flunking out of college. We noticed money has been missing from us and other family
    members. We have taken precautions to protect ourselves. He has been working two jobs
    and trying to finish college at night. He is in his senior year. It has been sports gambling.
    Betting on Football and Hockey primarily.
    He has had a relapse with the gambling and we are seeking advice. He doesn’t admit that he has
    a problem. Feels he can deal with it himself which we know he can’t. He lies about almost
    everything. He does not show remorse.
    Just today his girlfriend of two months broke up with him. We knew this was coming
    because he is not honest with anyone and alway tries to make things sound better than they
    are in real life.
    How do you convince someone that they have an issue and need to get professional help
    before they can move in a positive direction in their life?
     One day at a time.


    Hi BB
    Welcome to Gambling Therapy. You are in the right place and among those who understand.  
    Nothing you have said surprises me.
    Knowledge of the addiction to gamble will give you power over it. Lack of remorse and lies are symptomatic of the addiction.  
    I know only too well how much you want to convince him that he is taking the wrong path and that his addiction will only bring him misery and failure.  
    It is late here for me but I wanted to let you know your post has been read and that I will support you for as long as you want me to.   I will write tomorrow at greater length and hopefully cast some light for you into the dark corners of your son’s addiction.
    Well done on starting your thread – the first post is the hardest.  
    If you should read this before I get a chance to write again perhaps you could tell me how your son dealt with his addiction when he stopped before.   Is he in a lot of debt?
    You have spoken as couple in your post which is great.   The addiction to gamble is divisive and the best thing for your son is your unity on all matters that relate to his addiction.  You are not to blame for your son’s addiction and your son did not ask for it or want it either.  
    You might like to have a look at our Friends and Family topic forum which is below this forum.   In it we focus on specific issues and there may be things there for you that will support you.  Please join in on any of the issues – it helps me know the things that are uppermost in your minds, although given time I hope to support you with all of your concerns.  
     I will write again tomorrow


    Thank you for your thoughtful response. It means a great deal to us at this time.
    My son seems to be able to stop on his own but only temporarily over the past several
    years. I have gone with him to the initial  GA and private therapy sessions but he doesn’t stick
    with the programs. He doesn’t appear to be in a great deal of debt at this point. (You never
    know for sure) The largest cost is that he does have college loans and because of the
    gambling has not been able to finish his degree. He does work two jobs but
    their are indications of issues at one.
    We appreciate your response and look forward to speaking further.
     One day at a time.

    nomore 56

    Hi BB, you will find a great deal of support here, especially from those who are parents of compulsive gamblers. Since I also live in the US (rainy Washington State of all places, lol) I know a little about resources and such here in this country. PA has a Council on Compulsive Gambling where you can find all kind of information that might be useful for you. They have a hotline, 800-848-1880 and also a list of GA and GamAnon meetings in your area. Almost every state has one of those non-profit councils and they are a wealth of resources and information of all kind. This is at least a place to start when you are just at the beginning of your journey with a cg. You might want to check them out. 🙂


    Hi BB
    It is common for an active CG to be***ve they are in control and sadly it is only those who are looking on who realise they are not.
    This is not the professional way of dealing with you son’s addiction but many of us have used this method and found it helped in communication.   Imagine your son’s addiction as a slavering, vicious beast in the corner of the room when you talk to him. When you don’t threaten his addiction, hopefully he can hear you.   When you threaten the addiction it leaps between you and from that moment on your son only hears the distorted addiction and not your words.   In turn, you only hear the the ***s, the manipulation and deceit of the addiction and it can be very loud and very nasty.  
    The addiction is the master of manipulation and empty threats from the non-
    CG are like a green light to it.   Whatever you say you must be prepared to carry out.
    I expect you have found yourself in the middle of an argument and not been sure how you got there – if you have it was undoubtedly caused by the addiction that thrives on confrontation.   Your son’s addiction causes him to feel a failure and worthless, so when you say you love him and you are trying to help him, his addiction is saying – don’t be***ve them, they don’t understand, you are worthless but if you indulge me – I will give you what you want.
    You are fighting an unseen enemy but I be***ve that by giving it a persona we learn to tackle it differently and confuse it.  
    Your son’s addiction is a secretive addiction that creeps up by stealth. When he first gambled, he probably won. It was a sociable thing to do, after all many people do it and have fun.   He couldn’t know that, for him, addiction was waiting. Unfortunately by the time it is recognised it has done its damage and only the right treatment will help the CG control it.
    I would imagine you are feeling very lost and weak in the face of this problem.     Know that you do not own the addiction to gamble and therefore you are stronger than your son who is controlled.  
    First posts are always about the CG and never about those who love them. Coping is hard but important because when we crumble the addiction wins and we are powerless.   It is important that you stay strong and united; sharing with family members or those he might seek enablement from is often good.   It is impossible; I think, to know what it is like to live with the addiction to gamble, unless you have been there, so often those we turn to offer opinions that do not help. I be***ve it is good to get knowledge and then to tell others as a statement rather than a question.   Support is good however, (although not always possible) among his siblings.    
    Your son’s addiction will have made him emotionally immature. Just as a child, caught out doing something it should not, your son will have **** to cover up his addiction.   Every time he was caught or accused he would *** again and the ***s can be very elaborate.   Every *** added to his distortion until his memory became befuddled and his ***s become his truth.  
    I would not be writing on here if I did not know that this addiction can be controlled and wonderful lives lived out as a result but the early days of learning feel pretty doom laden as you try and make sense of the senseless – but there is plenty of hope or I would not be here.   I think that maybe it is better not to try and make sense of the senseless.   I don’t be***ve we can ever know what it is like to own an addiction.
    Your son cannot show remorse and possibly feels none. His addiction will have moved on from whatever damage he has caused because to admit to the wreckage would be to take responsibility for his behaviour and he is not ready to do that yet.
    Your son is not deliberately hurting you. As his parents, you are the closest to him and the ones from whom he will hope for the most enablement.     My CG has told me that as long as I enabled he couldn’t help me understand because to do so would have stopped his enablement.  
    As your son is familiar with GA – has he seen the 20 questions?   They are often an eye-opener to a CG.  
    The chances are (and I am not judging) that your son has not stopped over the past several years but the addiction is getting stronger and less easy to hide. Was the therapist a dedicated addition therapist?    Did he go to GA for you or because he thought he had a problem? 
    Compulsive gambling has nothing to do with money.   It is the most common misunderstanding for F&F. We understand money and feel this is the crux of the problem but the only thing that matters to a CG is the gamble.   I will bring up my thread entitled ‘The F&F Cycle’ along with this post.   It might help, it has been a while since I first wrote it. 
    Gambling causes the CG to drastically alter reality to fit personal perception.   To combat this distortion we often have to throw the book of good parenting out of the window.  Personally I think the exceptional book of parenting makes better reading.     I cannot tell you what to do but I know it is unwise to treat all your children the same.   It is enabling to give cash to a CG child, bail that child out when it is in debt or cover for that child when they should be taking responsibility.   From what I have read you are already doing the right thing with regard to protecting yourselves and that is good.
    Dear BB – all I have written is tough and I appreciate that it is hard to take in – it took me months in Gamanon before I began to understand any of it and i am now about 7 years into my recovery.  
    I don’t do ‘what ifs’ or ‘if onlys’ they don’t help me or change my past one iota but I do be***ve that the sooner a family unites against this addiction the more hope there is for the CG.   Above all else it is so important that you look after yourselves – this addiction will bring you all the way down if you allow it. Looking after you is the finest way you can look after your son.   If he sees you collapsing as a result of his addiction he will gamble.  
    In ‘My Journal’ which is the CG forum above this one, there is a post that has recently been pulled up again to the top, which I think would be good for you to read. It is ‘Anniversary. by Colin in Brum.   I hope it helps you understand.
    There is an F&F group tomorrow at 22.00 UK time and I would be delighted to welcome you into it.   Nothing said in the group appears on the forum and we communicate in real time.
    Keep posting – writing is therapeutic and I will write more about that next time

    looby loo

    Hi Baseball
    Welcome to GT, where you  will find a wealth of non judgemental support and advice. Like your son, ours has been a CG since he was about 16.  Lies, deceit and ‘covering’ go hand in hand with this addiction sadly and often we do not know the extent of the debts incurred.  Sadly YOU, nor anyone else for that matter, will be able to convince your son that he ***** expert help and support.  It has to come from HIM, and recovery has to be for HIM and no amount of US wanting it to happen will work, and that is quite hard to accept as a parent – that we can’t right the wrongs for our kid(s).  Usually CG’s are good workers as they need their income to continue with the gambling.  Our son has also had ‘problems’ in the workplace resulting from the addiction to gamble.
    Being united with family and friends against his addiction and not ‘enabling’ (which comes in many different formats) is key to YOUR survival.  Not making threats that you are not prepared to carry through is also important, as the addiction sees a threat not carried out as an ‘in’ to continue its destruction.
    Any relationship he has whilst actively gambling will suffer the consequences, as you say, a CG tries to make those closest to them ‘believe’ all is well in their world and often really do want to believe that for themselves too.  It is fair to say that ‘normal’ parenting (whatever normal is !!) does not work with a CG child.
    I do not have all the necessary knowledge BB, but all I do know is that I will never give up HOPE that our son is/will be in recovery, for to give up HOPE would be the end of the road.
    Just wanted you to know that I read your post and understand you right now.
     Everyone has a destiny, it's up to us whether we choose to follow it though !Looby Loo


    Dear Baseball594. Just a word of welcome from me too. I am the mother of a young man who has been gambling since his late teens, ie for ten years of so. As far as I know he is not seriously seeking recovery. This is very hard for me and the family circle, but I guess one big lesson I have learnt is to seek my own recovery, because that is the only thing I can have control over. I cannot decide for my son, nor make him ‘see sense’. I will of course be there for him when he does reach the point of entering his own recovery. You have had good information and guidance from others already, so I will not write much, but I wanted to say ‘Hi’ and wish you well. Monique.Keep hope alive.

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