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advice regarding compulsive gambling please

(34 Posts)
Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 20:25:55

My boyfriend is a compulsive gambler, we live together and as I'm sure it goes without saying it has a massive impact on our relationship and us individually in different ways. He is aware he has this problem and has had counselling through gamcare not long ago, however this finished and he has relapsed. Basically I would like to know what else is out there? I know about gamblers anonymous and that will probably be his next try, so I guess I'm asking if anyone has any experience with this? Or anything else? We also think he will benefit from separate therapy to deal with some issues from his past which may has contributed to the beginning of the problem. So any stories anyone would be willing to share in similar situations would be really appreciated.

I am also looking for support myself so if anyone has anything to share about gamanon that would also be helpful. Thankyou all.

Also I hope I have posted this in the correct topic, it was between this and mental health and I'm aware this relationships board gets a lot of traffic, so feel free to move it if not appropriate.

MatildaTheCat Tue 23-Feb-16 20:30:41

Gambling addiction is really serious and apparently difficult to overcome. As you obviously know it leads to massive problems for the whole family. I have to be honest with you OP, I couldn't continue in this relationship, the risks of damaging the whole family are too great.

Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 21:59:55

Thankyou for your response Matilda. I know and don't blame you for giving me that advice as I'm aware of the success rate regarding gambling addiction and recovery. And the effects are devastating as I'm am already experiencing. Any other advice much appreciated please

FranTan Tue 23-Feb-16 22:02:04

Watching this thread with interest as am in similar situation. Sorry have nothing to offer by way of advice but hopefully others have.

Helbel82 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:16:17

Hi OP. Sorry to hear you are going through this.
You said he had support from gamcare and has relapsed. Has he contacted them for further support as it may be that having some further sessions may be helpful for him to revisit some of the work done before and identify what happened for him to relapse.
Did they offer any support groups in your area that he could attend? I know that the support available varies from area to area and whilst GA are widely available, other support groups for gambling can be few and far between.
Are you getting any support for yourself? Either from gamcare or gam-anon?

goddessofsmallthings Tue 23-Feb-16 22:24:36

What form of gambling is he addicted to? Horses, slots, cards, etc or is he the type that will bet on which raindrop will slide down the pane and reach the sill first?

Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:26:26

Thanks helbel. The gamcare counselling was 1-2-1 sessions so I'm not 100% sure what was offered. But as far as I know his counsellor said he would contact him after 1 month to see how he is getting on (that could happen anytime soon) but he had the 12 sessions which are given. However I believe, and so does he, that he needs some other form or help aswell, possibly GA.

And no I am not getting any help but would like some. Iv emailed gamanon twice asking for some information on how to get support with no response. As far as I can see on the website there's no number to phone. The nearest meeting is 90 miles away and although I would be willing to travel I would like to speak to someone first. Right now I'm feeling pretty desperate for some support for myself aswell as him. In addition I know he needs to be the one to get help, I'm just looking for some advice from people on what's worked/not worked for them and how they accessed it. Thanks everyone.

Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:28:42

Goddess - the last kind, anything he can. He's done the machines in bookies (which he's self excluded from) online gambling sites, even lottery and scratch cards when he can't access anything else.

lbab1702 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:32:40

I was in a 6 year relationship with a gambler. Unlike your partner, he refused to get help and refused to accept that all our relationship problems where due to the gambling. When I said he'd have to move out and we would split up, he made a vague effort to find a gambler annonomous group to join. But I was adamant that we were finished anyway and so he did nothing. 2 years later, he's still gambling and makes a joke about it to me, on the odd occasions I run into him. So I think your situation is different, in that your partner is actively wanting to get help. That's got to be a positive thing.

Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:37:40

Thanks Ibab it's good to hear the positives, as I know and understand it seems pretty hopeless. This time I'm trying to support him but not take it all into my own hands as need it to be him that reaches out for help.

scorpio32 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:43:02

Hi there. I am a compulsive gambler, and I go to GA (in fact, I am the chair at the local meeting). My last bet was 15/09/2012.

Firstly, your partner has to want to give up. It's not enough to just tell you that he wants to do, he has to want to himself. He'll lie about it, but then, he'll lie about anything.

However, GA will help him, and there are a lot of people in GA who have many years of abstinence, as well as lots of people who haven't.

He should try to attend as many meetings as possible in the first 3 months, as this is the most difficult period. No-one will judge him - everyone there has the same problem. After that, he should try to develop a routine where he attends meetings regularly, with no excuse. There is no substitute for the meetings. The majority of people who relapse in GA tend to be tardy in attending meetings.

Even if he goes only once, he should get all the literature that he can. I think the orange book is incredible and it has helped me tremendously. The 12 step program and living one day at a time were and are my lifesavers.

Don't worry about the 12 steps however - that can come later (but is very important). If he can get a sponsor all the better but that's not always that easy.

There are practical things that can and should be done. He should hand over control over all of his money and live off a budget that you control. That includes passwords for banking sites - I'm assuming he trusts you. He should self-exclude from bookies if that's his poison, and install blocking software on all PCs/smartphones if that's how he gets his fix (actually, you should do the installation so he doesn't know the password). Try, which is free.

The urge to gamble actually doesn't last very long (but can be very strong). Compulsive gamblers tend to respond to it immediately, but stopping and focussing on something else for 30 seconds will nearly always get you through it.

It is a hideous disease (it IS a disease, no matter what anyone else will tell you) but it can be controlled. I liken it to diabetes (sorry to any diabetes sufferers out there) - follow the advice of other sufferers in control.

He will have to face the financial consequences of his gambling too, but that is secondary to getting the compulsion under control.

If you have ANY questions about compulsive gambling please ask - I'm more than happy to answer them.

btw. there is an online forum at, but it's very quiet there normally. There's normally someone though, who can offer advice.

AcrossthePond55 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:43:19

Probably not what you want to hear but a dear friend's father developed a gambling addiction. He's still at it 10 years later. His wife divorced him for financial reasons but they still live together. They'd been married over 50 years.

Their business was lost, their savings depleted, she had to file bankruptcy after the divorce, she barely managed to save their home by getting him to 'quit claim' it to her as part of the divorce, but it has a large lien against it so when she dies or if she has to go into care chances are the creditors will take the house to pay off remaining debt.

He's still at it because he just knows that his luck will 'turn'.

scorpio32 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:57:50

Oh, one more thing - look into gamanon which is the support group for families of compulsive gamblers. The website is

Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 22:58:11

Thankyou for your post Scorpio, it's really good to hear it from the perspective of a CG. I am aware it's a disease, if I'm honest I don't think I would still be with him if I didn't believe that after the way it's affected him and ultimately me. We have tried me having control over his money - and yes it stops him but not without a price, it affects our relationship, his moods become very up and down due to frustration. We have tried it time and time again with me having 100% control, to giving him limited control and him showing me receipts etc, and nothing has worked yet. He is excluded from bookies and we have blocked his phone although at times he has got around this. We have struggled to us the k9 software but will give it another go.

I am all for GA and have pushed it many times. Although he insists he wants help he feels hopeless and believes nothing will work, therefore having little motivation to take action.

Thankyou so much, I will take you up on the offer and pm you smile

Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 23:00:23

Yes I have looked on there Scorpio, but have been unable to contact them. Have emailed twice with no response as it seems there isn't a meeting near me. I would Definatly go though, I need it.

scorpio32 Tue 23-Feb-16 23:07:39

All gamblers feel that the situation is hopeless. I got to the point where I felt I was too much of a burden to my family (with 2 young children) and they were better off without me. I was literally a phone call away from taking my own life.

That was over 3 years ago. I hasn't been easy, and I'm still paying off my debts. I had to rebuild trust, I had to stop lying, and I had to stop gambling. I'm definitely not perfect, but I'm a long way away from where I was 3 years ago. The important thing is I ALWAYS make my GA meeting. I've seen lots of people come and go. It used to affect me, but it doesn't now. It's not that I don't care about them (I do) but it's their decision and their recovery.

I can only tell you what works for me. I hope it can work for your boyfriend as well.

I'm waiting for your PM, but like I said, I'm happy to have this discussion in public if it will help people (including you bf)

scorpio32 Tue 23-Feb-16 23:11:22

Oh, and 1 more thing. If he complains about you taking control of his money he has to remember that:

a) it's for his own good and
b) it's his fault

I hate saying this, but you cannot trust him, at least yet. He has to earn that.

Zebedee13 Tue 23-Feb-16 23:23:01

I am trying not to enable him as I know how all that an do is make matters worse. Just the right amount of support balanced with the strength to recognise when there's nothing more I can do is what I need to reach. Yes, I do say that it's all for his own good etc and he agrees, but we end up getting into disagreements and he becomes very defensive and bad tempered about it (his is not abusive though I must stress that).

scorpio32 Tue 23-Feb-16 23:31:50

The control of money is such a difficult and touchy subject. Try to come to an arrangement - it's not a permanent thing but he needs to get some recovery behind him.

You don't need to starve him of money, but he also doesn't need to walk around with more than he needs - that's just asking for trouble.

ThisisMrsNicolaHicklin Wed 24-Feb-16 11:29:22

My husband was in the same position several years ago and we found our GP to be very helpful. For DH CG was a symptom of something else and the GP was able to explore that and get him appropriate help. GA and private counseling have been brilliant as maintenance but at the start we both needed a lot of help and the GP was a rock.
The good news is DH has been in recovery for 2 years and hasn't bet for more than a year.
Its hard work though so make sure you have enough support for you as well as him.

FranTan Wed 24-Feb-16 21:21:13

Bumping for you

Zebedee13 Thu 25-Feb-16 13:27:38

Thankyou for your post thisismrs. I think my partner would benefit from some form of counselling too as he will admit that his gambling stems from issues from his past. Can I ask if you took control of his money and how you both dealt with that?

Ins3cth0t3l Thu 25-Feb-16 14:37:24

The kindest thing you can do for yourself is to stop living together and end the relationship

I bet you do not know how much he has gambled
His money
Your money
Family money
Borrowed money
What type of gambling

Does he have debts

He needs to have motivation to stop

Zebedee13 Thu 25-Feb-16 18:13:25

Do you think that is necessary for him to stop? Do people not stop unless they've lost absolutely everything? I am aware I probably do not know the extent of it. He does have debts but smallish ones here and there (as far as I know).

scorpio32 Fri 26-Feb-16 00:07:17

I think it's important for him to stop, and stop completely. This means websites, bookies, lottery, even raffles.

It's not about the amount, it's about the mental state. When behaviour becomes compulsive it is, by definition, out of control. Small things can trigger a compulsive episode that can be very destructive.

From my own, personal perspective, given enough time, most gamblers will eventually lose everything. The trick is to embrace your recovery, whether it is GA or some other method, early enough to avoid the devastation that it can cause.

It took me 3 attempts to finally get to where I am, over about 10 years. The first time I thought I'd beaten it, only for a few games of poker to trip me over the edge. The second time I was genuinely taking the piss - gambling after meetings and lying to the group.

When I came back for the 3rd time, the only thing I hadn't lost was my life. It was that serious.

I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I'd stuck with GA from the very beginning.

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