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Living with an addict

(24 Posts)
Mallowmarshmallow Wed 08-Jun-16 09:49:35


(Sorry, this might be long)

I have just found out my husband has a gambling addiction.

Just after we got married, a lot of debt came to light which I helped him clear and he says that was run up through gambling (but didn't tell me at the time).

The same has happened again and he has come clear about everything. He is seeking counselling.

I can help him with the practical side of things, organising the best way to pay the money back, but I have no idea how to be with him emotionally.

I have told two good friends and told him he needs to tell his sister who he is close to as I'm not prepared to lie to her for him.

I can't bring myself to tell my mum, she is close to us and will think very poorly of him.

He says he is ashamed, very sorry, very tearful and wish he had asked for help sooner.

Has anyone been here and had any advice on how I should be behaving?

TheNaze73 Wed 08-Jun-16 19:45:34

I haven't but, bumping for you

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Wed 08-Jun-16 19:52:43

Isn't there a Gamblers anonymous group?
I'm sorry you're going through this, any addiction can tear people apart and make them do things they are completely ashamed of. Counselling is a great first step. I really hope he is prepared to admit he has an addiction and needs help.

There maybe some online addiction support groups to help you. I think you have to just be honest with how you are feeling. It's great that you want to support your Dh, but it's also ok to feel angry or betrayed. flowers

TortoiseSmile Wed 08-Jun-16 19:55:23

Why should you help him pay the money back?

tribpot Wed 08-Jun-16 20:07:40

Is he clear as to how this happened again? He has come a bit cleaner than last time but I would seriously advise you not to think of this relationship as having a long term future unless he admits what he has done to your friends and family (including your mum) and takes full responsibility for what has happened.

The expression is 'detach with love', it's not that you hate him but you can't effectively help him with this addiction. He can only recover if he feels the real consequence of what he has done.

You may find Al Anon useful despite its primary focus being the loved ones of alcoholics; the effects for the loved one are similar regardless of the addiction.

He should be having a look at immediate self-exclusion.

Dacc Wed 08-Jun-16 20:27:17

I did this to my wife around 9 months ago. If I may ask, specifically what type of gambling is it? Sports betting, slots/casinos or a mixture?

Dacc Wed 08-Jun-16 20:29:55

In the meantime, he should speak to Gamecare, I got referred to a counsellor that really, really helped me understand why I did what I did.

Dacc Wed 08-Jun-16 20:36:11

Self exclusion is a great excuse for the addict and gives a facade of stopping, you can get around SE if you really want to.

Mallowmarshmallow Wed 08-Jun-16 23:08:21

Dacc, can I ask what happened to your relationship? And how you are doing now managing things?

It's casino games online and on apps.

Thanks for all the advice. He has told some people so far and counselling through gameaware will be commencing this week and I am hoping they will encourage him to talk to people about it.

Dacc Thu 09-Jun-16 10:14:06

I won't lie, it's been incredibly tough on our relationship due to my destroying the trust my wife had in me. We're still together, thankfully, and all I can do is think that with every day that goes past I get that tiny bit closer to her trusting me.

With me, and this obviously doesn't apply to your situation, I was just a normal person who like to bet on Rugby and Football. We went through a very stressful period in our/my lives (Redundancy worries, pregnancy, PND, buying a new house, staying with in laws etc, etc) and I turned to the "slots" as a way of dealing with the stress, which looking back was something I did from an early age.

I also realised I was severley emotional immature.

If you want any more advice just ask, I'd be happy to help in any way.

However, I still get the urge to gamble (sports betting) every day and it's a battle but I'm winning it.

Oddsocksgalore Thu 09-Jun-16 10:20:05

Why are you forcing him to tell people?

Dacc Thu 09-Jun-16 10:44:41

Yeah, I don't agree with that either, shame won't be the thing that's stops him.

However, my wife told everyone she knew but I can't blame her for that.

tribpot Thu 09-Jun-16 11:34:48

My experience of addiction is that disclosure brings accountability. Addiction thrives on secrecy and having to face up to it in the clear light of day makes it harder to relapse without consequences. Yes of course, alcoholics do relapse even after they've come clean about their problems but no-one around them is colluding in the fantasy that there's nothing 'wrong' with their drinking. It's about taking ownership - maybe you (and he) would like people not to think ill of him for what he's done, but it's the truth. He's done it, and there are severe consequences and he needs to own that.

It's also a measure of how serious the addict is about recovering. Keeping the secret keeps the door open to relapse, it makes it easier to deny later that there ever was a problem or that it was ever as serious as those around us think it is.

It can't be about shame, I agree - it has to come from the addict as a way of accepting what they have done.

Dacc Thu 09-Jun-16 11:46:12

That's fair enough but to me my responsibilites lie with my wife, my son and myself - it's not the business of anyone else.

I felt worthless enough but having another 50 other people making me feel worthless was, to me, not positive. Those people don't know how hard I've tried, what I've discovered about myself and what made me gamble self destructively, they see me as the addict and they always will - that's in no way positive.

As you know, addiction isn't a one size fits all thing.

tribpot Thu 09-Jun-16 12:14:59

I've had the opposite experience - as you say, one size doesn't fit all. I think people have respected my honesty and commitment to sobriety. I'm happy for people to see me as the addict because it's true.

On a practical level it has made it easier for people to make allowances for me, e.g. suggest going for coffee rather than a beer. I guess gambling is more generally solitary (except for big things like a day at the races, or smaller office-based things like a Euro 2016 sweepstake, I'm not sure I'd really class that as gambling anyway?) so you're less likely to have someone say 'let's go have a flutter on the gee-gees after work' unless you work with some very odd poeple grin

Dacc Thu 09-Jun-16 12:24:03

Indeed, whilst they are both undeniably terrible addictions I honestly don't think they can be compared side by side and you're right, none of my friends have every said to me "lets go for a bet".

With respect to the OP - honestly.....if you love him, stay with him but give him an ultimatum. It's up to him then.

If you don't love him - leave him to it.

iPost Thu 09-Jun-16 12:48:09

Seperate your finances from his as well as you possibly can.

Personally, having watched my brother ruin my mother (she lost her house) and having left SIL with a decade-long road to return to economic stability, to trudge wth ther two boys along for the ride, my definition of that would be that everything, including the house, was in my name alone.

Except I still wouldn't stay.

There is no love great enough to induce me to risk for my child what my nephews were put through.

The relapse rate for gambling addicts is one of the highest of all addictions. Even those who are eventually successful stand a good chance of one or more costly, life battering, finance wreaking relapses before they manage to take long term control of the issue.

Protect yourself. You may, or may not, be able to help him protect himself from his gambling addiction. But the degree to which you protect yourself is one of the few choices you have full control over. If he is willing to place any assets, accounts and valuables you co-own into your name only, or acessable only via you, to protect them from relapse, that might be one route.

If he isn't willing to do that then dissolving all economic ties, even if it is at a time when you are not at the point where you would consider dissolving all emotional ties, may be the only way you can protect yourself from the ramifications of his addiction in the short, medium and long term future.

I feel for you. I loved my brother. But this addiction can strain emotional ties to the point of no return. There can come a point when you are so mired in undoing somebody else's catastrophic mess, once more, where it becomes impossible to separate the behavoir from the human doing the behavoir. And then hating the the behavoir can becoming hating the person they have become. When the emotional ties snap there can be a twanging effect. It can leave marks and scars that you might have to carry forward for decades and beyond.

So bubble wrap yourself as best you can. Because there are no time machines, no do overs. Choices made from a place of love get no "lessen the impact" brownie points that reduce the price left to pay. It is a c are of choosing protective measures in advance, or have one's arse left wide open to the ramifications of an optimistic trust in a recovery ... broken to smitereens.

<big fat hug>

Mallowmarshmallow Thu 09-Jun-16 13:11:59

Thank you all.

I didn't force him to tell his sister but I wanted him too. It was certainly more along the lines of accountability than shaming him.

It was also to try to protect myself emotionally, I cannot be the only person who knows about this. At a time when I don't know what our future holds, I might not be able to provide him with the emotional support that a group of those who love him might be able to do collectively.

Our accounts were entirely separate until, ironically, shortly before this happened. He now shares a mortgage with me but nothing else. I have recently had a baby so would be unable to take mortgage back into my sole name currently. It's certainly something I would look to do again when I'm in a situation to be able to.

pallasathena Thu 09-Jun-16 14:18:17

You sound as if you've checked out o/p and I'd very likely do the same given the circumstances. Put yourself and the baby first now.
As for how you should behave? Authentically I would say. Are you furious, feel let down, taken for a mug, angry, upset, sick to the stomach? then tell him. If you feel you don't want a life dancing around his addictions, tell him that too. If you really want and believe in him, then tell him and prepare to see any recovery, any setbacks through. Its all about what you want, your future, your baby's future - there is no law that states you have to stick with someone because you feel sorry for them. Maybe, that's your dilemma?

Dacc Thu 09-Jun-16 15:11:24

My wife has taken steps to protect herself financially the mortgage is a joint one but if we split up and sell the house I will only get my share of the deposit and that is fair enough.

I would totally understand that any partner would feel that they would want to walk away from an addict, I'm one of the lucky ones, so far.

I wish you two the best of luck and like I said, if you or he have any questions, just ask.

Mallowmarshmallow Thu 09-Jun-16 15:34:18

Pallas, I feel all of those things.
I'm not sure how I would cope with setbacks but I assume they are fairly inevitable.

I mostly feel very sad. We used to talk about how lucky we were, we have good jobs, a lovely home, healthy children and I thought it was enough but it obviously isn't.

He says he has done this, like Dacca, from an early age. He grew up with very little actual parenting, slot machines were his permitted entertainment from a very young age.

I wouldn't be able to stay in my home, my childrens' home without him. The children are young and despite a good income, childcare costs prohibitive:

And my children would lose their father. At the very least he would have to move away to live with family, at the worst he would realise he had nothing to live for.

The counselling service have offered me counselling too, Dacc, is that something your wife received? I really appreciate hearing things from your side, than you for sticking with me!

Dacc Thu 09-Jun-16 15:56:39

He says he has done this, like Dacca, from an early age. He grew up with very little actual parenting, slot machines were his permitted entertainment from a very young age

Exactly like me. If I may be bold here;

I've gambled all my life, 99% of it was harmless but I was brought up involved in horse racing, bingo and the bandits, it was just the norm for me, quite how my mum didn't really think much of me staying in to watch the racing with 5p EW yankees that my uncle put on for I'll never know but hey ho.

As I mentioned earlier and won't go into too deeply here - I found myself in an extremely stressful situation and I think this was compounded by having a child (remember I mentioned my immaturity earlier!) I went from a complete bachelor to being a responsible father in 2 years. I also was involved in an episode that reignited my PTSD (Gulf War One) and gambling, specifically slot machines was how I coped, it was always how I coped.

I'd hazard a guess that maybe something similar happened to your partner and he's using the casinos/slots as a form of stress relief.

I was taught the my addiction works on triggers and now I'm aware of them I can avoid them or know they are there and gather me for the fight.

I love my wife and son more than anything in the entire world and if the last 9 months have taught me anything it's how to be a better man and better husband and a better father.

Dacc Thu 09-Jun-16 16:00:34

I also was involved in an episode that reignited my PTSD (Gulf War One)

I mean I was diagnosed with PTSD after GW1. I didn't realise it had come back until my counsellor told me and then I realised I was just living with it and not coping with it.

Mallowmarshmallow Fri 10-Jun-16 16:51:24

It sounds very similar Dacc.

I'm hoping counselling will do the same for him in terms of identifying the triggers and creating a strategy to manage them.

I'm struggling with the mistrust, I am worried every time he looks at his phone or is in another room. I know he was playing late at night as I prefer to go to bed early because the children are up early but I'm finding myself staying up to try to prevent that.

We have got a UK based holiday booked for next week which I don't want to miss for the children's' sakes.

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