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Tips for Dealing With a Compulsive Gambler in the Family

My father was a compulsive gambler. This is what I learned about how to protect myself.


For the Real Victims of Compulsive Gambling

If you are a compulsive gambler, you have my sympathy, but you may want to skip this article. It will upset you. If you are the spouse/partner, parent, or child of a compulsive gambler, then the advice I’m about to offer may save your sanity and your financial future.

As the adult child of a compulsive gambler, and someone who’s grappled with my own addictions, I feel I’m in a good position to offer some sound advice. I am not a trained counselor or psychologist, and it is definitely a good idea to seek the help of a licensed professional for support. In the meantime, here are some tips that can help avert disaster until you and the gambler get the help and support you need.

This article is for the families—the silent victims of a destructive, progressive disease that can wipe out a family’s life savings and financial future in a matter of days. A compulsive gambler is not thinking about whether his or her family has a roof over their head, or food on the table. Active gamblers are consumed with placing the next bet, and they don’t care where the money comes from. That may sound harsh, but it is the truth. It is an ugly truth that most gamblers are not willing to discuss until they get into recovery.

In addition, the disease compels gamblers to lie compulsively. When you have to spend a large portion of your time covering your tracks and keeping your activities secret, lying becomes a way of life. When you make promises you can’t keep, the embarrassment and humiliation of constantly letting down the people who care about you the most forces you to lie.

The Longer You Deny, the More You’ll Lose

Many families and spouses of compulsive gamblers say they never suspected a thing, until their bank accounts were wiped out. That may be true, but there are usually subtle signs that something is amiss. Are there some months where you’re short of money? Are there other months where everything is okay and you have money to pay the bills and splurge on extras? Are you constantly fighting with the gambler because you can’t figure out where their paycheck is going?

Unless one of the breadwinners has an income that fluctuates wildly, this kind of financial instability is a red flag. A gambler’s finances are a roller coaster. They may borrow from savings to place bets, then win money back and replenish their bank accounts.

My father was able to siphon a lot of money from my parent’s joint accounts. This went on for years because my mother was in denial and was willing to ignore most of the big, red flags that had been waving in her face for decades. She was willing to trust someone who had demonstrated, on many occasions, that he couldn’t be trusted.

Admit That There’s a Problem

As the adult child of a serious compulsive gambler, I feel confident saying that the reason many gamblers get away with their money problems for as long as they do is because the people around them live in denial. This denial cushions family and loved ones from dealing with a horrific problem in the short term. In the long term, the consequence of family and friends living in denial has a far-reaching impact, both financially and psychologically, on the people who are intimate with the gambler.

Every day that a gambler’s problem goes unchecked, is another day that they are slowly sucking their family dry of income and assets. If they are borrowing from other relatives and friends, they are slowly burning bridges because nothing will sour a relationship faster than unpaid debts.

The sooner you can admit that your partner, child or parent has a serious problem – the sooner you can warn family and friends not to lend them money. There are going to be people who will lend them money in spite of warning, but your conscience will be clear because you told them and what they do with that information is not your responsibility – alerting them and being honest is.

Don’t Be Afraid to Tell the Truth to Others: Don’t Hide the Problem

On the day I stepped in to stop my father from any more plundering of their mutual checking and savings accounts, I knew I needed help because I was butting into something that was legally none of my business. Luckily, I knew the staff at the local bank. I also knew that the only way to get support was to admit the truth to people I didn’t know well.

One of the reasons I got cooperation from the staff in my parent’s bank, was because I walked in and pulled a manager aside and explained the situation. I basically said, “I need your help, my father is a compulsive gambler and he is draining their accounts.” When the staff heard this they advised me to get my mother into the bank to switch their accounts into her name and my name.

Once you have people on your side and they understand the severity of the situation, doors will open and help will materialize from every corner. People want to help if they can. If they don’t know what’s going on, there is very little they can do.

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Protect Your Finances and Assets

It’s important to be proactive about your finances and check bank statements and credit card statements for yourself. Make sure money is not disappearing. Gamblers will use every trick in the book to fool their loved ones. They are not being deliberately malicious, they are simply giving in to the throes of an incredibly powerful mental disorder that compels them to lie, cheat and steal from their own families to satisfy their insatiable craving.

What my father was actually doing was moving money around between their checking and savings accounts to cover the slow depletion of funds. He would transfer money from their savings to their checking. Then he would go to the bank teller and get a receipt printed that showed an inflated balance. After he showed my mother the fake receipt, he would return to the bank and move the money back to the savings account.

He had been doing this for a long time and getting away with it, but he must have sensed that at some point he would deplete their savings—and the game would be over. That’s when he decided to go for the jugular. He managed to figure out a way to forge a withdrawal slip from a large, tax-deferred annuity my mother had been saving up for 30 years for both of them in their retirement. I’m going to skip the details of how he pulled this off, because I don’t want to give any of the CG's reading this any ideas.

Needless to say, he cleaned out half of their life savings and spent the next year blowing it on blackjack, his game of choice. He had managed to talk my unsuspecting sister into typing up a fake financial statement. This is the power that CG’s have over their children—the power of persuasion and the uncanny ability to make the implausible sound reasonable. Luckily, my sister said something to me about what was going on, and I alerted my mother immediately.

My mother is a very smart woman, but when it comes to her husband she lives in denial about the person she’s really been married to for 50 years. It’s too late now to blame anyone, but if she had been more proactive over the years about limiting my father’s access to all of her accounts, this wouldn’t have happened.

As it turns out my mother is one of the fortunate ones because her gambler husband was only able to clean out half of her life savings. Thanks to my intervention, the other half is now safely out of my father’s reach.

I am the only one in my immediate family who suspected my father was up to no good from a very tender age. My immunity to my father’s tall tales has saved my parents from destitution and mentally prepared me for the eventual fallout. Not all children are so lucky.

In many instances, children grow up wanting to believe and trust someone who can’t be trusted. As a result, these adult children grow up living in denial about a parent’s addiction. They choose to remain silent even as their elderly parents are headed for the poorhouse. Additionally, these adult children frequently seek out dysfunctional and abusive relationships, because that’s what was modeled for them.

Protect yourself, and your future, by having your own savings and checking accounts that no one else can get into. In addition, cutting the gambler off financially is the next big step. Once you’ve locked the gambler out of your finances and income, you no longer have to buy into the dysfunction of fighting over money. If you are economically dependent on a gambler then it may be time to consider a divorce and let the courts take care of forcing the gambler to pay their way in alimony and child support.

Do Not Give the Gambler Any Money

Giving a gambler is money is the same as setting fire to a hundred dollar bill. Everyone’s circumstances are different, but unless the gambler is cut off from an external money supply they will never hit bottom and seek help.

Furthermore, the people closest to the CG will never achieve any long-term financial stability if money is constantly going to bailing out the gambler. It is up to the people around the gambler to stand up for themselves and refuse handouts.

An active gambler is not healthy or sane enough to repay debts. Until they get into recovery, compulsive gamblers are money pits—and you can only help them by cutting them off. If you really feel compassion for the CG, and really want them to seek help, then you have to cut off the supply of money. Once they run out of people and money, many of them are ready to admit they need help and do something about it.

Gamblers are not just addicted to “staying in the action,” they are also addicted to money, because money is the only thing that feeds their incessant compulsion to gamble. This is why gamblers frequently hoard money by stashing away extra cash for the next round of gambling—even if they’re short on the mortgage. Their priorities are not rational.


Do Not Listen to Lies, and Don’t Lie for Them

Lying is a way of life for compulsive gamblers. The extraordinary amount of sneaking around doing things they know they shouldn’t be doing forces compulsive gamblers to lie about their whereabouts, lie about why they have no money…and lie about their addiction. You cannot believe what they say because after a while they lose the ability to tell the truth. Once their addiction takes over, getting the truth out of them is impossible.

If you’ve been out all night on a gambling binge, getting up and going to a job is not a top priority. This is why so many gamblers have trouble holding down a job. If you are the spouse of a CG, you may have been asked to lie for them on many occasions.

You may fear that they will lose their job, or that their reputation in the community is in jeopardy. Well, guess what? They’re going to lose that job eventually anyway. Their reputation is already eroding, and lying for them or covering for them is just delaying the inevitable crash. It’s making you a liar, as well, which leads to more insanity.

Don’t buy into the lies and don’t argue with a gambler, because their insecurity and guilt will just make them angrier. Deep down every gambler knows that their addiction is destroying them and their relationships, but without help they are unable to get humble or get honest.

You can let the gambler know that you know they are lying, and then simply go on about your business. You can also let them handle their own mess. Don’t make calls for them or help them cover their tracks.

A responsible adult takes care of their own affairs and does not ask other people to clean up for them. You can let the gambler know that you are no longer willing to lie for them, and then make a commitment to stick to it.

Don’t let yourself be manipulated by a sad story and a lot of tears. You are enabling when you help the gambler lie. The sooner you stop, the sooner they will have to deal with the fallout from their addiction.

State Your Expectations and Boundaries Clearly and Stick to Them

The term “abuse” is appropriate because lying to the people you love is emotional and psychological abuse. Spending the rent money or grocery money on gambling and then lying about it is financial abuse. Once you face the reality that the gambler is abusing you, even if it’s not intentionally malicious, it is easier to set emotional boundaries and live your own life. Whether you opt for counseling, Gam-Anon, Codependents Anonymous, or any kind of spiritual support group. It’s important to get clear on what you want your life to look like, with or without the gambler.

People who have lived with an addict for a long time are so tuned in to the addict, and to dealing with the addict’s problems, they lose the ability to tune into their own feelings and take care of their own needs. Once the partner or child of a gambler starts living life on their own terms, the gambler either decides to get their life together and get help, or they won’t. Either way, at least you can then decide whether to end your relationship with the compulsive gambler, or stick it out. If everyone stays stuck in the pattern of addiction and enabling, it’s impossible to move forward.

Take the Space You Need

Life with a compulsive gambler is frequently chaotic and dramatic. There’s always some kind of crisis, or the people around the gambler are trying to avert a crisis. The amount of energy it takes to deal with any kind of active addiction can drain even the hardiest soul.

Once you’ve acknowledged the problem, protected your finances, and decided to maintain strong boundaries, it’s okay to give yourself permission to put some distance between you and the gambler.

I remember feeling suffocated after I helped my mother protect her assets. I would get phone calls from my father asking to get together and chat about what happened. The problem was, I was tired of a lifetime of having this man invade my emotional space. It was always about him, and how it wasn’t really his fault, and how no one was on his side. The list of complaints was a mile long, but accountability and personal responsibility for his problems had always been missing.

I was tired. In my case, I needed a year off from looking at my father. In a particularly troubling conversation, shortly after his deceit was uncovered, my father claimed he was thinking of killing himself. Now if I believed for a moment that he was serious, I would have taken the appropriate action. As it was, I knew it was a ploy for sympathy.

Such is the extent of the emotional manipulation a gambler will use on those closest to them – the people who have been brainwashed into listening to idle threats and other assorted nonsense.

I asked my father if he was serious about suicide, letting him know that I would have an ambulance there in five minutes. He didn’t know what to say and hung up. Needless to say, I know his tactics better than anyone. I knew he would never have the courage to kill himself.

I knew what I was doing in his case. However, I would not recommend treating other instances of suicide threats lightly, because gamblers do have a very high suicide rate. You know your loved one better than anyone, so you know whether a threat is genuine or you’re being manipulated. Trust your instincts.

If you suspect your compulsive gambler might actually hurt themselves, then you should call an ambulance immediately. Threats of suicide in gamblers under 18 should always be taken seriously and handled with immediate medical intervention.

Meanwhile, it’s important to have outside interests and a support group of friends. Building a strong foundation in your own life of people and activities that are important to you will help you get some clarity on your situation with the gambler.

While it’s recommended in Gam-Anon not to isolate the gambler, I am of the mind that it’s okay to take some personal space. Once again, the gambler needs to see the consequences of their actions. We cannot be responsible for another grown up. Taking some space from the gambler allows us some breathing room and gives the gambler some time alone for some possible reflection.

Keep Information and Resources Handy in Case It's Needed, but Do Not Try to Talk the Gambler Into Getting Help. It's a Waste of Time.

Each gambler is unique, as is each situation, but there is one common denominator with any addiction: The addict must be willing to get honest, humble, and seek help. No force in heaven or earth can move a gambler to stop gambling, unless they get serious about recovery. Recovery is different for everyone—it can be a combination of therapy, support groups and a spiritual practice, but no matter how the gambler chooses to face their disease, it is ultimately up to them to want to get well.

Much of the dysfunctional dynamic between a gambler and their partner or family comes from the people around the gambler constantly nagging and pleading with the gambler to get help. They do not realize that they are trying to reason with a disease rather than a rational person, which is impossible.

If you’re going to threaten to leave by a certain time, then have a plan in place for how you’re going to leave, and then just do it. Active addicts are arrogant, selfish and caught up in something they can’t control. They will not respond to threats. However, being left to fend for themselves will frequently give them time to reflect. It also gives them time to hit their personal bottom, on their own, without any well meaning loved ones cushioning the impact.

It’s a good idea to gather as much information as you can about resources for help and support, and have it on hand for yourself and the gambler. Families get so caught up in making the gambler the problem that they neglect to take a close look at their own issues. Anyone who has lived with a gambler, or been in a long-term relationship with one, is going to have some emotional problems. No gets away unscathed. There is a wealth of support groups like Gam-Anon and Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) to help the families of gamblers.

Keep information on hand about support groups and facilities for the gamblers. If the gambler becomes willing to seek help, you don’t have to scramble for information, you can send them directly to the closest Gambler’s Anonymous meeting. Once again, the decision to actively seek help has to come from the gambler. You cannot force an addict to get help unless they are willing, but you can offer support the minute they become humble and willing.

Forgiveness Doesn’t Come Easily, But It Will Come

It is easy to hate a compulsive gambler. They are not pleasant to deal with. The buildup of lies and deceit eventually becomes too much for families to deal with. It’s not uncommon for family members and friends to stop speaking to a gambler for good. Shutting out the gambler forever becomes the only way out for a lot of people.

Ultimately, the people closest to the gambler have to work through a series of emotions before they can forgive the gambler and themselves. Rage, sadness, regret and grief are all valid emotions and acknowledging them and working through them, whether in therapy, a support group or religious group, is the healthiest way to work towards making peace with the compulsive gambler.

Forgiveness is a process that can take months or years, but eventually, everyone needs to make some kind of peace with the gambler. Forgiveness is the only way to move forward and move on.

There May Come a Time . . . An Update

I thought it was important to post an update on my father. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last year. So, an impossible human being has become more impossible. We are all doing our best to show him's not easy. He has plenty of moments of clarity though. And when his head is clear, he'll revert to his bad habits. He's tried to open several credit cards over the last two years. Luckily, my mother, sister and I are having him electronically monitored through the credit bureaus.

We're able to head him off at the pass. I cannot lie, my father is an exhausting, infuriating man, and if it wasn't for my mother's determination to stand by her man - I probably would have stopped speaking to him years ago.

If you are a CG, and you've read this far: I implore you, get help. This disease isn't just about you. You are putting your family through a lifetime of hell. It never stops as long as you are gambling.

If you are the spouse of a CG and you are raising children: I implore you: Get help and get your children away from the CG. If you don't, your kids will suffer the consequences of an impaired parent for the rest of their lives. Be the strong one.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: Gamblers kill themselves often. It's an illness. Shame pushes us to gamble more! Don't you think emotional support for gamblers would make more sense than the advice in this article?

Answer: This particular article was about the family and people who associate with the gambler. It was to offer guidance to them, not the gambler. It is true that gamblers often kill themselves after they've wreaked financial havoc, and leave behind loved ones who've been destroyed financially. The family is left picking up the pieces of their lives that the gambler destroyed.

I understand addiction better than most people as I've had intimate dealings with it my whole life. Addiction is like any other fatal disease, you get treatment before it kills you. Gamblers are arrogant, insecure, angry people who feel a sense of entitlement about their gambling. Of course, there is shame underneath all of that - but sympathy won't help.

The only person who can get help for a gambler is the gambler themselves. That means facing up to their helplessness and shame and doing something about it. You can't ask the people that are being raped financially by a gambler to also offer emotional support to that same person.

There are plenty of resources for active gamblers including Gamblers Anonymous. But taking advantage of those resources requires the gambler gets honest about their disease and DOES SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Question: How can I deal with all the lies without being angry and upset all the time?

Answer: Well, it's ok to be upset at the lying. Having someone lie to your face all the time is just awful. You might want to tell yourself that the lying is a symptom of a disease. Like any disease, the sufferer is going to have symptoms. However, most people seek treatment for a disease. If your gambler is not getting help and admitting they have an illness then you have the right to be really angry. And then only you can decide if you want to stick around to deal with the insanity. I keep a lot of distance between me and my father because I cannot handle his constant lying. He refuses to get honest about his disease of gambling.


Anonymous on October 14, 2019:

My son !! I have been financially abused over half his life

Yup no use talking He doesn’t have a problem

Can’t do it any more Sad I’ve aided him for too many years

I feel guilty about that

Dakotah on September 06, 2019:

I too, had a compulsive gambling father. We were on the other side of the spectrum where he won most of the time because he was very good at it, but that didn't make it any better. Oh yes there was money for rent and bills and food but, he was also an alcoholic, drug user, abused physically his spouse and children. None of us kids had any kind of success in work or relationships. I personally ended up in 2 dysfunctional marriages. One marriage ended due to physical violence by my spouse towards myself and my children, and the second will end due to compulsive gambling by my spouse.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 20, 2019:

Dear Justine and Danette,

You both deserve a pat on the back for standing up for yourselves. You learned the hard way that you cannot fight someone else's addiction for them. You can only save yourselves. Prayers to you and your families.

justine on August 19, 2019:

Thank you so much for this article. It helped me to not feel guilty about cutting off my mother today and asking her to leave my home after supporting her while she spends every one of her social security checks at the casino. Too many lies eventually hardens a heart.

Danette Burns on July 30, 2019:

I 100% agree, suffered with my mother for 22 years. I finally cut ties this month, hoping she finally decides to get help. Tried for years, but she won't change unless she accepts that she has a problem, all the emotionally support in the world won't help if she does not.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on January 29, 2018:

Dear Done,

You are very young to have to deal with your grandparent's illness and your dad's. Your mother has her hands full as well. She doesn't know what to do other than what she is doing. Right or wrong, that is how she copes.

I hope you are able to get support. GamAnon and other groups offer support for the families and spouses of compulsive gamblers. Perhaps you and your Mom could attend some meetings. My prayers go out to you and your family.

Done. on January 23, 2018:

Your words were comforting to read, thank you for that.

I am 24 and unfortunately still living with my parents. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease in 2010 and as a result of medication is now a compulsive gambler. Life at home has been troubled for the past 7 years, the biggest blows were loosing our family home, him opening accounts to lend money/gamble in all of our names, and the constant fear of not being able to trust a word that leaves his mouth. I related to what you wrote so much! and as sad as it sounds, it is nice not to feel alone.

How you spoke about your mother shocked me, and made me realise my mother does the same, she is enabling him. I understand that shes sees it as picking up the pieces, but in reality she is dealing with all the repercussions of his lies; from paying his debts to dealing with credit cards repayment letters that come through the door. My dad refuses to admit he has any issues and blames us saying we drive him to it, adding crazy excuses.

I guess i don't really know where i'm going with this, but I just wanted to contribute to your feed as many comments seem to be from spouses. On that note I would like to add from personal experience, if you are keeping yourself/children under the same roof as a compulsive gambler expect heartbreak and broken relationships.

Again, thank you for sharing your experience. I wish you the best with your dads battle with Alzheimer's. I care for both of my grandparents, who unfortunately are advancing with the disease quickly. It is another heartbreaking/lonely situation to have to deal with so i am sending positive thoughts to you and your family.

All the best,


Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 25, 2017:

Dear Betrayed and Broken,

Right now you are grieving, so it is very difficult to forgive. There are no set rules for recovering from this. Focus on you and your child. If you need to find a good therapist, then do that. Working through what happened with a supportive therapist can only help.

Your husband has a disease, he did not wake up one day and think "I"m going betray my wife and child and gamble away everything we have." It's not a deliberate thought process it is an obsessive illness that they can't control unless they get honest and seek help.

Yes, there are success stories, I've gotten private emails from CG's who've been in recovery for years. It's up to the indivdual.

It is also up to you to protect yourself. And you're on your way by getting control of the finances. Just take it one day at a time, do what you have to do for yourself and your baby...and it will eventually be ok.

Only you can eventually decide if you can stay married to him. If you do, just be aware that you will never be able to let your guard down again. You will always have to be vigilant. Good luck!

Betrayed and Broken on August 16, 2017:

Thank you for this post. I just learned three weeks ago that my husband, who was solely in charge of the finances, online gambled for a year and a half and now has $125k of credit card debt. Our small child is only 8 months old and I'm devastated. The timing doesn't make sense because we never needed the money.. but he thought extra cash would be nice. He has never done anything like this and has always been phenominal with finances. He's successful, barely had student loans left, his credit score was almost at 800, we paid for our wedding in full, we took a few vacations, and did large renovations on our house that we purchased a year after we married. I'm in complete shock and my anxiety is through the roof. I blame myself because I trusted him with the finances, but then again I had no other reason to believe otherwise. I just recently learned his father had a gambling issue, not to this extent, but I'm upset I was never made aware of it because I could have kept better track. My husband didn't want to admit it was a problem at first, but it has really impacted him emotionally now. He has gone to 4 GA meetings and is going to see a therapist. We are working with a financial planner to get our finances in order, I have access to all accounts, will take him off of our main bank account, and monitor his credit report so I know if there is any activity.

I'm just at a loss if I could ever trust him again.. how can I heal? Based on what I've read, I don't think GamAnon is for me. I want to believe we will get through this and that not every CG is the same.. I want to believe he won't do this again, but I'm terrified. I don't know where to turn other than a therapist, but I would also like more self help ways to cope with this. I don't want this to destroy our little family or what we both worked so hard for up until he was consumed by this disease. I would like to think there are success stories out there, but I honestly haven't found many. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 07, 2017:

Dear In a big mess,

Your story is horrible. I am also a schoolteacher. It is a very demanding job. Luckily you at least have a steady job. I cannot tell you to do anything that you are not already doing for yourself. Gam-Anon, counseling, leaving the jerk, etc.

Sometimes it's about faith. While you're going through it - it's a nightmare. But have faith that by doing the right things, your life and the life of your child will slowly improve until the day comes when you realize the nightmare has faded, and you have moved on.

I study and practice Buddhism. It has helped tremendously. Spirituality is very important as well as counseling. So you might want to look into a local church, or whatever you are comfortable with.

They are always good at hiding it. Whether they are alcoholics, or gamblers...whatever their destruction of choice, they can hide it from the public for awhile. But everyone I know who thought they were hiding it, eventually fell apart. Don't worry about him.

He is going to be a jackass no matter what you do. Try to focus your energy on yourself and your son....reach out to friends, go to the beach and watch the waves. Find the joy and the nightmare will eventually fade. I'm rooting for you.

In a big mess on August 06, 2017:

I am married to a CG.. It's exhausting. Myself and my 3 year old son left him in Feb. 2017. We were evicted from our apartment. He continues to gamble and drinks heavily. I am a school teacher for 18 years married to him for 4 years as of next week . He lives in a rented half a million dollar home with his " best" friend.. I spoke to my attorney about all his defaults and because we live in the state of Florida the child custody and child support will be a mess. I am sick to my stomach. All I can do is pray. He is bitter , was fired from his job for stealing and he is only out to hurt me he is a loose cannon. I spoke to him about reconciling in counseling .. I attend counseling and Al-anon meetings weekly. It's a roller coaster with him. I pray for my son and myself daily that we get through this storm and he realizes what he has done to us and himself. He acts like his gambling and drinking is normal. And he hides it very well.

I need help. Thanks!

Anon on August 05, 2017:

Thank you for your post. It's just my life reading this. Just separating from my husband because of gambling, he cleared out my elderly fathers bank account while I was in hospital having my baby. Public health nurse rang me when I was out walking with my baby at 2 months old sayingsomeone was stealing from my father and it all came out. We made a go of it for a while as he got help for a while but it's all come crashing down since. My little girl has just turned 3 now, she is my life and I have to move on for her sake now. I feel like I am going insane sometimes, I've lied for him so much but I need to think of my baby girl now. My fatheris also an alcoholic and compulsive gambler and verbally abusive. He's been recently thrown out of 2nd nursing home for abusive behaviour and have cut him out of my life. I need to do the same for my daughter or the pattern will continue for another generation .

Thankful to you:) on July 07, 2017:

Thanks for sharing this. This is probably the third time in a number of years I have read your words. For the last seven years I have had to put up with the lies of my husband who is a compulsive gambler. It has the most detrementle effect on us as a family~having two beautiful children together. I ache for relief sometimes and tremble with uncontrollable confusion. I try to give my children the best life away from material thing rather taking them to free nature events so they hopefully will not follow in their father's addiction rather enjoy natural things in life. I cry when I read your story especially for your mum because we spouses often are left to fend for ourselves and do not get the support we deserve. Only those closest to a CG know the emotional termoil involved in sticking by their side whatever our reason. Sending

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on June 30, 2017:

Dear Lost and Looking For Answers,

I know you are very young. I know it is hard to not have a family to confide in. I am a lot older than you and I can tell you that there are many people who do not have a biological family left for lots of they go out and make friendships and create a family out of people they choose.

I am going to be very blunt because your post worries me. You have attached yourself to a selfish loser who thinks nothing of stealing from you. That is exactly what he is doing - stealing from you. This is not love. I have spent a lifetime learning how to stay away from the selfish losers who whine and cry and manipulate you into believing they love you while they bleed you dry mentally, emotionally and financially.

You are going to be a nurse, you will be able to take care of yourself financially - you can find a man who treats you right. You also need to keep your finances separate from a partner. Please make sure he has no further access to your money. Go to the banks and credit card companies and remove him from your accounts.

He's in jail. Leave him there and don't leave a forwarding address. Block his number, block him on social media. Start over, it might be lonely for awhile but you will meet new people. When you get rid of him you will have room in your life for a better class of people.

He's an asshole sweetie, and he sees you as an easy mark. You deserve better. Please look for CoDA meetings, please get some counseling and please start looking to expand your life and attract people who will treat you with the dignity and respect you deserve. Please keep me posted.

Truefish on June 29, 2017:

I sat in on my husband's deposition yesterday for our divorce. At no time during the 4-hour questioning did he believe that he had a gambling problem. It was disgusting. We had the bank records in front of him. He said, "I don't have a problem. You don't have a problem if you are winning. You only have a problem if you are losing." He could not see that we lost our home, our family, and our well-being. We are well into our '50s. He thinks that he is still winning. He is on to his next game without us. Absolutely mind boggling.

Lost and Looking for answers on June 27, 2017:

Hi Wendy, I am a 21 year old female recently graduated and on my way to become a registered nurse. My fiancé and I have been together for 5 going on six years now. We lived together for two years and recently stopped because he has gotten incarcerated over something unrelated to gambling. Last year was when it all began... he has always had trouble finding and keeping a job (trouble finding due to his past criminal record).. Anyway I have no family here and he comes from a dysfunctional family (father in jail most of his life and mother on drugs) so we are sort of all each other has. I didnt know he had a gambling problem till last year what a new casino opened up near us and he started going with his friends (which I thought was just for fun) but came home after losses of $300, $500... then he would win a thousand or so but take all back for sure he would win even more but end up losing it. One night he won 17000 and swore that he was not going back... a week later he went back lost all of it emptied our account(which didn't have much), fell asleep on the wheel on his way home, wrecked our car and fractured his hip... till this day he thinks the casino has nothing to do with it. He took off for a few months, then took my whole $900 check from our joint account and lost it. When I talk to him how upset I am about he says to me "all you care about is your money" "we are supposed to be a one" "why can't you support me, there are going to be ups and downs in everything". He's been incarcerated for 7 months now and he's talking about how he has a master, strategic plan to make money from the casino when he gets out and it baffles me because I thought the time in there would have cause him to reflect. He said he has changed and won't do the same dumb stuff he used to do, he says "why can't I trust him"... I went through such and emotional roller coaster last year can't imagine him coming home and falling back into the same ways. I really do love him but I know I'm young and I don't if he'll ever come to reality about this... I just don't know what to do and it's killing me because this is the first time I've ever talked about it

Boris on June 21, 2017:

I have a son that did ice and gambles it is terrible but reading this article helps thanks

tosin on May 30, 2017:

I have a husband too who is also a gambler.thou i never knew until i gave birth to my son who is 4 yrs old now.what baffles me is that he dose not feel remorse about it.his family never support me cos he always win.He spent his house rent and shop rent money on gambling,he never care for his wife & son.Thank God i have a job.i want to take a bold step and never look back.

Annie on May 24, 2017:

Omw this is my life storey want to say thanx to the women whose also a gambler marrying him . Greatest of all my integrity still intact though I lost money material things almost my younger son of addiction .I say thank you Lord for the support of my eldest son .Married now for 6yrs still in my profession but today YOU affirm that I made a great decision .Know I will always keep you in my thoughts

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on May 21, 2017:

To anyone who is thinking about posting spam comments: Compulsive gambling is a serious disease that destroys lives. I put up this article to help others.

Real stories and comments will be approved. Spam comments and referrals to hocus pocus email accounts and other assorted nonsense will be flagged as spam and deleted. Please don't bother posting if you have nothing of value to add. Thank you

Truefish on May 20, 2017:

@Sandy: your endorsement is of no help. It is not healthy to spend time checking on anyone.

Go to Gamanon first before offering advice.

Retired CG on May 11, 2017:

Thank you, I am trying my best to quit

Andrew on March 17, 2017:


CG Jared on February 26, 2017:

Suicide is not a strength.

I enjoyed reading this point of view. Many emotions were stimulated.

No one gains courage to kill themselves. It is brave to live harboring negativity, it is courageous to live positively, spiritually. I hope you and your family have found recovery, and that you continue sharing your courage, strength and hope.

Thank you

Ruby Lily Rose on February 25, 2017:

Good article I have a son diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at 16yrs he is 31 yrs we battled for help had some good years then relapsed when grandad died now gambling and drugs helped him so much always having to battle his healthcare for support I am tired but the time has come no more money to pay his debts! Listening to you as he needs to realise I can no longer pick up the pieces and I realise now it doesnt help him ad it doesnt stop. He is manipulative too! A long story here especially the lack of care support in mental health!! Very hard when its your son who through no fault of his own got a serious mental illness!

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on February 05, 2017:

Dear Ron O -

I applaud your honesty and your willingness to get help. It is a good sign that your wife is willing to go with you. She obviously cares about you enough to salvage your relationship, or at least work through her anger. Your children will need space to forgive you. If it's been going on for 35 years, then the people around you are not going to embrace you overnight. Good for you taking it one day at a time. It is an illness, so give your self a lot of credit for addressing your disease.

I have forgiven my father, but I still do not trust him or like him. He has never really come clean and claims a lot of amnesia. You sound more willing to do what it takes to make amends - so you are in a better place than my father. Best of luck to you and your family!

Ron O on January 25, 2017:


I am a Compulsive Gambler the date of my last bet was 11/11/2016 I also am a Compulsive Liar which I became to hide the gambling. I knew the first time I went to the casino without telling anyone that I had a problem. I did try to come clean about it a number of times and just could not tell my Beautiful wife for fear of what she would think of me and I feared it would end our 35 year Marriage. Well my biggest fear of being found out happened on 11/11/2016.

Since that time I have been going to GA twice a week and also seeing a Gambling Counselor once a week. I am finally one day at a time and one step at a time coming out of the fog.

I am now assessing the damage I caused by not taking care of my wife and family because the Gambling and Lying took up so much of my Time and Money.

I have been trying to figure out how long it will take to make it up to my family and to gain their forgiveness my wife went to a GA meeting with me and will be going with me to see my counselor today. I have been up all night trying to find something that would shed some light on what she must be going through.

I do have to admit your article was a very difficult read for me not just because of all my tears but the reality of what I caused is in your article.

I am going make a few copies to share at GA and with my Counselor.

Most importantly I will be emailing this to my Wife and grown children in hopes that they will come together embrace, support and comfort each other.

I am working on being the best Ron, Dad and Papa I can be.

Praying for Faith, Hope and Safety

Humbly Ron O.

Charlie on January 23, 2017:

Thank you so much for this story and advice. I am really struggling at the moment. My husband is a compulsive gambler and liar. I am becoming ill because of it all.. I'm ashamed of him and of myself for not realising before I married him. He has lied to me since the day I met him and I am at my wits end as to what to do.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on December 26, 2016:

Hi Cindy,

I'm so sorry about your heartbreak with your daughter. I'm afraid I understand her not wanting to speak to you. It doesn't sound like she had parents that were present for her as a child. You mention drinking and gambling - not a great environment for a kid. I"m in the process of writing an article now about how gambling affects children.

She may be angry right now because she feels robbed of a "normal" childhood, and she blames you because girls need their mothers. I think forgiveness is a process - and it can take years for an adult child to make peace with their parents.

There is nothing you can do right now, except continue to send hand-written letters since she's blocked you. Texting is intrusive anyway - an old-fashioned letter is better. Just keep writing to her like you have a relationship - and maybe someday she'll be willing. Right now you have to respect her space.

I stopped talking to both parents for two years when I was in my forties. I just got so tired of their self-absorbed behavior. I checked out.

Good for you joining a group. If you can help other active gamblers get help, or give them support - it will keep you busy and offer something to the community. Sometimes the best way to take our mind off our troubles, is to help someone else. Good luck!

macteacher on December 26, 2016:

Hi Nancy,

Your father does sound like a monster. Thank you for your kind words about my article. You are definitely not alone. It sounds like you finally have some peace cutting him out of your life.

I would not be in contact with my father either, if it wasn't for my mother. It's sad that families are estranged due to this terrible disease - but sometimes the adult children have no choice but to cut the toxicity out of their lives. You've done the right thing for you - and that's what's most important. Be well. :-)

Nancy on December 22, 2016:

Hi Wendy,

Thank you for writing this and sharing your experience. This is beautifully written. You've found the perfect balance for giving advice and sharing your experience. Normally, I'm appalled by subject matter experts or advice experts using their experience to credit their advice - it usually inhibits a biased tone. You have won me over!

As I was reading your article, I couldn't help but unconsciously nod my head in agreement with every single emotion you felt and pain you endured. I used to be ashamed of my father, but now when asked about my father, I openly share my dissatisfaction of my father.

My father is a gambler. At a young age, I was an accomplice to his addiction. He asked me to collect and hide all mail that had his name or my mother's name on the envelope as soon as the mail man delivered them. In hindsight, they were probably overdue bills and maxed out credit cards. He broke into one of my aunt's homes and stole my mom's expensive jewelry to sell for money. My mom kept it at my aunts house because my dad couldn't be trusted. When he needed money again, my dad took all that was left of my mom's petty jewelry and left my mom and I crying in a small room we rented since we sold our house before the bank was able to foreclose on our property. My dad spent all of my school uniform money and lied to my grandmother and Uncle and told them my mother didn't want to pay for my school uniforms - making my mother out to be the selfish wife. My father made my mom believe she was going to Florida to buy a home and when she was ready to sign papers, she found out she didn't even have a penny in the bank account. He also maxed out her credit card and left her stranded in Florida. He once pulled out his gun and pointed it at my mom and asked me watch him shoot her and then himself so I'll know how my parents died. He's a monster.

I am no longer afraid of him and not afraid to stand up to him. I am not dependent on him. He doesn't know where I live and I have him blocked on my phone. This freedom is new to me. My life is drama free and far from chaotic. He has lost his daughter and I can tell that it pains him to know that his only child wants nothing to do with him. But this pain isn't as strong as his addiction for him to make a change. I don't hope to reconnect with him. I hope to forget to him.

Thank you Wendy for reminding me I am not alone.

Cindy on December 13, 2016:

I'm on the flip side of your post. I'm the gambler, started when our daughter was in the first grade and my mother took me to a casino while my child was in school. Unfortunately this was my first casino experience and I " won" $400 needless to say I was sold.i used to be fine just buying instant lottery tickets but the casino you could win so much more (and lose just as much). Anyway married 33 yrs have only the one child a daughter who is grown and married now. She stopped abruptly having anything to do with me 19 mos ago nothing I did in attempt to communicate with her was successful. I have quit for up to 2 yrs at a time the gambling but never forever. When our daughter was grade school through 7th grade maybe her and her dad (my husband) would drive me to the casino where we would all have a nice " free" dinner then I'd go onto the riverboat to gamble and she and her dad would go to the mall the park or a movie until the "cruise" was over. Then once our daughter was about 14 or 15 I would pick her up when I got off work so I could go gamble at the convenient store where lots of people went and bright their kids. There was tv or the kids could sit and do their homework. It did have smokers and our daughter wanted to go sit in the car instead of sitting where it was smokey. (We had quit smoking back when she was about 7 yrs old) anyway she sat in the car a couple of times until I finally said ok she could just stay home. We had good neighbors and lived in a family oriented neighborhood and I was available by phone so she could call or text and I could be home in about 40 minutes. I love my daughter with every bit of my heart. And she just 2 weeks ago shared with him how much my gambling through her life has affected her. If I could go back knowing this I would change every bit of it. She will never see or speak to me again. It has about killed me I've never been so sad in all my life. She is my heart, while my husband and I have had financial strains our whole marriage we've never been without food shelter or work. I can tell by your article you have pretty much stonewalled your father, and I'm sorry it came to that for you and him. I hope that maybe an adult child of a CG somewhere reading my input will find forgiveness for the parent that in no way intentionally damaged or harmed them. I've written my daughter letters tried to call and text her but she has blocked me and even tried driving to her home to speak with her about this and apologize but she won't even see me. Her husband came to the door and I felt as if I had never been welcome in their lives it was awful. I left the front porch and felt as if my whole world had just crumbled. So I'm asking you what you would suggest I do to try and heal this relationship when she isn't even willing to acknowledge I'm among the breathing any more. Her dad and I both quit drinking back in 1988 as well that was due to him getting his 2nd DUI and bankrupted us. He and our daughter however have a good relationship, I'm the one on the outside. My husband has even taken me to the casino a few times since this severed ties with my daughter and I can surprisingly tell you it just isn't a thrill for me any more I just don't care about anything except my daughter, and how much I miss her everyday. Thank you for reading, and there is a group I've started going to called Celebrate Recovery I'll do anything to have her back in my life. Anything.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on November 17, 2016:

Hi Ready To Break It Off,

I'm hearing that your fiancé refuses to deal with his mother's compulsive gambling, and it is having a serious impact on his own financial health. It will also impact your financial health if you get married to him.

Your fiancé is an enabler. He suffers from the disease of Codependence, which is a real disease as well. Unless he is willing to acknowledge your concerns, and set some boundaries with his mother - including cutting her off financially - your best course of action is to get as far away from this family as you can. It will only get worse.

I don't know if his mentally challenged brother is under 18 years of age. If he is, please call Child Protective Services in your area and report the mother. She's not taking care of him, and gambling away food money meant for him is child abuse.

Good luck!

ready to break it off on November 16, 2016:

First off, thank you for this article. It was extremely insightful. Honestly it made my morning coming across this, because you explain it all so well.

I've been with the same man for 5 years, we're engaged and want to get our own place together. This has been pushed back by his compulsive gambling mother. His father died 5 years ago and left them with no money. His mom works 6 days a week but gambles away what she makes and feeds off my fiancé when she is broke. After 7 keno runs to the store a day, bowling nights filled with betting, late nights at the casino. She has 2 sons, my fiancé and one that is mentally challenged. She gets disability for him and gambles away that money as well. This poor kid is left eating $1 store hotdogs and fries & p&j everyday. He doesn't know what's going on, so he goes along with it. My fiancé buys his own food with whatever money he has left after his bills and handouts to his mother. Whenever I bring this up to him he's in denial and tells me I'm acting crazy, he knows his mom has an issue but refuses to confront her about it. Plus he doesn't want anyone talking about his mother that way. But I'm the outsider, I see the damage this has done to their family and he feeds her disease. She lost her house this past winter and her credit was so shot she went to my fiancé and had him sign the rent for a new house. Of course he did it, that really took a toll on our relationship. At this point I'm about to give up on him, he's just as much in denial as his mother is about her compulsive gambling. I only want to help, but some people can't accept it. Thank you again for this article!

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on November 04, 2016:

Hi Sandra,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad my article helped you avoid problems with your gambler friend. Addictions are an easy escape when people are suffering and don't have any tools to cope in a healthy way. Maybe you could encourage your friend to take up meditation or some other pain management techniques.

If my experiences with a gambler helps others, then I'm am very happy. :-)

Sandra Valani on November 03, 2016:

Thanks very deeply for this very useful and insightful article!!! I have a friend who is battling more than one brain injury and all he can think about is gambling because it help distract him from his pain!!! I have hanged around with him to learn about the gambling addiction that so many people face to learn firsthand about the problem of gambling. I have noticed that lots of people who are mentally ill or physically disabled head to the casinos because they are very lonely inside and like to day dream about the next big win!!! I have told my friend that gambling is so boring for me and that let's start a fun business together to channel his energy and let him feel what real earnings are like. But, thanks to you I will not share any bank accounts with him and I will tell him that I do not have any extra money to lend to him!!! Your article really home regarding the pschology of how a gambler's minds really works and I really appreciate your very frank viewpoint!!! May Our Precious Creator of Life Bless You for Trying to Help Your Father and Others through their gambling addictions!!!!

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 30, 2016:

Hello Disappointed,

I'm sorry to hear of your struggles with your husband's gambling. If he's truly interested in improving, going to therapy will help. The only success stories are the gamblers that recognize they have a disease, and take steps such as Gambler's Anonymous to stay clean. It is a life long struggle and very few people are able to lick the habit forever.

My concern is that you seem to want a different husband than the one you have been with for the last 11 years. You don't mention your background, but if you took on a damaged man, and you knew you took on a damaged man...hoping for someone else to change to make your life better is not the answer.

It sounds like you might be struggling with some Codependent issues, you also might benefit from counseling and some CoDA meetings. It takes two people to stay in an unhappy marriage. It's clear you love him, but you might want to ask yourself this: If he doesn't get better are you willing to spend the rest of your life in this situation? Your children are already suffering the consequences of living with a father that doesn't function and a mother that's functioning for two people. Some family counseling for your kids might help you decide what to do. Good luck!

Disappointed on October 29, 2016:

I've been with this man for 11 years, 7 years of marriage. He was always bad with finances, very unstable, come from unstable family, his late father wasn't a gambler but wasn't able to provide for the family so my husband had to find ways to provide for himself and often for mother and sister. His sister ended up with mental illness, his mother on meds constantly, the most negative woman I have ever met. Why am I mentioning this?! Well this whole time I was thinking that these were the reasons my husband is so unstable and depressed and bad with money and was hoping I could change him and make him happy! We have two amazing children, our son is obsessed with his father, when together they spend great quality time together. BUT my husband is a gambler. It all started when I took him to Las Vegas for his birthday nine years ago and he won a hefty amount. The next time he gambled was couple of years later when his sister had a crisis and he wanted to travel home help his mother deal with sick sister but didn't have money. He gambled everything we had, that wasn't really much money, but it was all we had at that moment and we had a child, he had a very low paying job etc. I forgave him since I figured he did it because he cares so deeply about his family. But he did it again three years later, and it happened again when he lost his job and we were supposed to go visit his family and stay with them for a whole month. I just found out recently about it. The worst part is he continued for a whole year and throughout my pregnancy. He continued because he couldn't make any money on a side and pay off his debt and the debt kept increasing. The reason it took me this long to figure things out is he never took any money out of our account but was borrowing money from people. I finally found out when he didn't bring two paychecks home and he admitted what he had done. He took a loan to pay off some of the debt which was very stupid because the interest rate is horrific and we're loosing a lot of money but at the same time after reading a lot about CG gives me hope since at least he didn't touch our account, our children's savings etc. He also asked for help and wants to see a therapist, starting counseling in two days. I am being very firm with him, he has no access to our accounts, no credit cards, is getting allowance for food and gas and that's it. I realize that I do not know the whole truth and what truly hurts me is that he was lying to me on a daily basis and so many lies have been told that I don't know if I can ever trust him again and if not I can't continue living with him. My biggest concern is my children. Financially they will be taken care of since I will not allow us to end up on a street. Yes, they would be much better off if both of their parents were working for them and their future but I can secure food on the table and roof over their heads, plus as I mentioned he has no access to my money, our savings.What truly worries me is that if I do not help him he will be a lost man and end up on the street and then the effect that will have on the children. I don't think I can keep him away from his children and I don't want to do that but I would if I needed to protect them. I know it might sound crazy but I am not as much worried about money as I am on psychological effect this might have on our son in particular that is very attached to him in particular. I don't know what I'd say to him. The tension at home is unbearable and I hate being a policeman and asking questions all the time. Although i try to control myself I end up saying things in front of our son and I have a feeling this is only going to get worse. If they grow up in a dysfunctional family and have all this tension all the time my children will be severely affected. I don't know if I can ever fo back to where we were but I do truly and profoundly love my husband and want to help him, want our family to succeed. He keeps saying he never ever enjoyed gambling, never felt good sitting at slot machines, but he did do horrible things, borrowed a lot of money from people, even from his mother who ended up taking a loan to help him. I am beyond disappointed and hurt but wondering if there still might be hope for him, for us. He is a very weak and unstable person with low self esteem. In 11 years we've been together I haven't seen much progress although he has so many things he should be thankful for, wife that loves him and until recently prety good marriage, two adorable children, and his mother and sister are doing much better now. I would love to hear your opinion on this. Have you heard of any success stories? Can I hope to have one?

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 20, 2016:

Hi DilemmaDiana,

I am so sorry I did not see your comment sooner, I would have responded. There's no such thing as someone who comes out ahead in gambling. Gambling, by design, is not something someone can make a living off of - because no matter what, it is still a game of chance.

That being said, this man may be doing something illegal. If he's getting tips from someone, or someone is paying behind the scenes to skew the odds...something is going on that he is not telling you. And he's not going to tell you. His ego is caught up in his story about being a "professional" gambler.

So you have to decide what you want. Do you want to risk the cops showing up at your door one day and taking him away? Are you planning on children with someone who's up to no good?

My father claimed for years that he never lost at blackjack, that he was at a professional level, and he always won. He really believed that...until he started cleaning out my mother's assets to chase his losses.

My advice: Find someone with a real, honest, job. Good luck!

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 20, 2016:

Hello Pregnant and Pissed off,

If he cannot stay clean, then you are in for a world of trouble if you stay. I am still overcoming battle scars from growing up with my compulsive gambler father. The psychological scars never go away completely. That is the legacy CG's leave to their children.

Scary is what will happen when he squanders all of his money, and then doesn't have any money to give you for an allowance. Scary is when he starts raiding his kid's bank accounts to pay his gambling debts.

Do what you have to do, even if it means public assistance till you get back on your feet. There no shame in getting help to get you and your kids away from a walking disease.

If you want to help your kids pay for things like college, weddings. graduation, etc. you won't have the money if you stay. Save yourself and your kids - get to some GamAnon meetings or CoDa meetings, and don't look back. Good luck!

macteacher on October 20, 2016:

Hi Pregnant and Pissed off,

I'd be pretty pissed too with a third child on the way, and a partner that's determined to squander all of his money on nothing. When you get afraid, look at it this will be a whole lot more scary when his money runs out, and there's no more allowance for you. How will you feed your kids?

If he cannot stay clean then your life, and the lives of your children, will never be stable. Your children will grow up with addiction issues and emotional problems if you stay. My mother stayed, and my sister and I have been paying the price for her tunnel vision for all our lives. I'm in my fifties and I still have trouble trusting people. I still walk around with a low level anxiety because I was raised in an unstable, anxious environment. It took me until my mid-thirties to get over my own drug addictions - that almost killed me.

Do what you have to do for you and your kids. If that means public assistance until you can get on your feet, go for it. There's no shame in asking for help to get away from this man.

Do you want your kids to go to college? Do you want to have the money to pay for weddings and graduation parties? Do you want your children to have a normal life? If the answer is yes to these questions, then you need to go. Good luck! Keep us posted.

Pregnant and pissed off on October 18, 2016:

Thank you for your insightful article. I have been dealing with the ups and downs and in any other addiction circumstance, easily recognizable abuse for 5 years now. There was a 5 month period where he went to GA he came back to life. He has been back at it a few times recently to the tune of $10,000. That's a train wreck not a relapse in my book. I find myself out of compassion and out of love. I am now 10 weeks pregnant with our 3rd. I am making arrangements to get away from him. I don't have it in me right now to coddle this bullshit behaviour. I have no access to his money, just my allowance. I have no real idea where I'll go but I can't keep shrinking under the shadow of his cycle. I'm kind of terrified. But also exited. I don't need to be sorry for this do I?

DilemmaDiana on September 28, 2016:

Hi Wendy and hat a wonderfully interesting and informative article you have written ...albeit from painful past experiences.

I too have a past which I would rather forget in some ways. My dad was a lovely man, a glowing personality ,funny,sharp and successful ....until he found the joys of online gambling about 15 yrs ago, everything and I mean everything changed in his and our lives over those yrs. He was self employed but he gave it all up and went on the dole and took a nothing job as a Pizza delivery driver...after employing 12 people in construction he decided it was just too much stress and wanted an easier life ! My mom never worked outside the home so things were tight, anyway he died two yrs ago aged only 59 of a massive stroke...whilst gambling online...can you believe his last minutes were spent betting on sports, he had placed a bet at 8.35 and was found (by my mom) slumped over in his chair dead at 9.15,how sad. I miss him so much but the old Dad the one I remember as a child and early teen, not the lost soul he became.

Now I met this great guy about 5 months back, he took me out bought me some nice gifts was the perfect gentleman in every way, he has been separated for a yr, I am 22 he is 38 so yes there is an age difference but we get on great.

The thing is he told me from the outset that he is a Professional ...not compulsive Sports trader ,he does this fulltime and I have to say he always has money and is extremely generous, he has never been in a Casino and only makes his money on what are known as "Exchanges" At first I wanted to run but he makes me feel so loved and wanted and has never asked me to pay for a thing, he is obviously a different character to my dad but he is still a Gambler (of sorts) I have fallen in love with him and he says eventually he would like us to live together and maybe even get married!

My heart say yes yes yes! My head though has been in a spin, what if (as seems to be the case) he is one of the rare persons who can actually make it pay long term (he has been doing it for 3 yrs professionally now) and I dump him because I lump him in with all other Gamblers? I told him I was uncomfortable with what he does for a living and he just said cannot change because he does not feel he has a problem, it can be so awkward also when we are out with friends and somebody asks him what he does for a living, he is in n o way ashamed or embarrassed by it ...but I see their faces drop and hear the whispers later... I just do not know what the hell to do!

Priscilla on August 10, 2016:

My mom is a compulsive gambler for years now. I'm about to be 25 and I can remember dealing with this as far back as when I was 16 years old. It's almost been a decade of suffering with her addiction. When I tend to feel alone in this situation, I tell myself many people are going through the same circumstances. I ask why me but then I come upon those articles and realize I'm never the only one. It's helpful to know that you're not the only one reading all these stories.

I tried to attend GAMANON meetings for myself but I always ended up crying and it was too much to keep going. I do seek counseling which has helped over time but I also think that talking about it over and over again does dampen your mood. What I took away from the article is that the best way to save yourself from a compulsive gambler is honestly cutting off from them forever which is extremely hard especially if it's a love one which in my case is my mother. I haven't looked at her in her face for almost half a year now and I somehow live with her. It's always hard to hear from family members that she lost a lot of weight and that she's losing all her hair. It hurts inside at moments like this but I have to be strong and realize that it's either her or me. I have to save myself. There are times where I think there will be no end to this and something tragic will happen but I try not to think too much about it. You have to live your own life especially if you've been sucked into it for so many years. We have to be selfish too. I guess I'm just curious @macteacher how are you coping with your father now. Is it something that still bothers you at times?

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 10, 2016:

Hi Truefish,

I haven't done much writing lately as I've been busy with my teaching job, but you've given me a good idea for the next article. If you can get your son to Gam-Anon, those meetings can help. He has learned co-dependent behaviors from growing up with a gambler, and without support, he can't unlearn them on his own.

Some individual therapy might help as well. You can also reach out to the guidance staff at his high school - they can provide resources. You're in a tough situation. I'm glad you got out. Thanks for stopping by. I'll start planning that article from the child's perspective.

Truefish on August 09, 2016:

Thanks for your article. My just turned 16-year-old son will not leave his father. I have moved out via a restrain order. To my son, I am the problem. Husband lost our home, has not filed taxes in two years, and just bounced the rent check for the 2nd time. He makes $185 K/year. I had to borrow money to file court case to get my son out of this unhealthy home.

Could you write an article for children from your perspective? My little guy is protecting him, being the parent at the same time getting caught up in the cycle and learning the behaviors.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 05, 2016:

Hi Janine,

You got off easy, you're very fortunate. You're also very smart for seeing the writing on the wall and asking questions. Without help your ex is going to continue spiraling out of control. Congratulations on freeing yourself! Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Janine on August 04, 2016:

Fantastic article!

I'm just out of an 18 month relationship with a man who, initially, worked in a well-enough paid job yet had no spare cash. He blamed his ex wife for demanding money. Then he cleared all debt onto an interest free card and said he could breathe again.

Then he started selling everything he could find on eBay. Said he needed cash to pay off debt he'd accrued through spending too much on us while also going through a divorce - only the divorce hadn't started and we were doing next to nothing ! So I started questioning what was going on. He said his job was paying less and had historical debt from furnishing his flat over a year before. But that was the debt he'd transferred to the interest free card...... I asked where the eBay money went (around 4 grand) and he said he owed his ex wife money that he'd borrowed. I was so confused. He began hating his job, became reclusive and disinterested in life. He said he was depressed as the marriage break up had psychologically affected him - but he left her and had me.... said he loved me and loved everything we had. Told me not to worry that he was showing no interest, it was a phase that would pass.

Then he admitted to having a gambling App on his phone. Only for one football bet. Righto. This bet would "solve all his problems". The bet lost and he went off the rails. Started drinking heavily, awake all night every night and all over the place. He has aged 10 years in 8 months.

Imo he was gambling the entire time we were together and then it got out of hand.

I ended it and told his 19 year old son why. A son I'd never met because he never allowed it. His son doesn't believe it but I think they need to get their heads out of the sand. The ex wife and son are living in a mortgage-free home with his name on the deeds!

I am now free of the confusion and emotional abuse so many thanks for your blog

Missy on July 23, 2016:

I read your article and it's the exact situation that I'm dealing with. Such a shame this disease is. It is so debilitating to all that are associated with the compulsive gambler. Their tentacles reach out and strangulate everyone associated with them. My poor, submissive daughter is married to the CG. They have kids who are innocent bystanders and I fear, in the long term, they will suffer the effects of their fathers disease. I have given up trying to lend advise to my daughter. She wants it to magically go away. She has not received counseling or has not reached out to a support group.I do what I can to make sure the children have the necessities because he blows through money with no thought. I will not bail him out. I quit enabling him months ago when I found out about his addiction. I have educated myself on this disease and have attended Gam-anon meetings and counseling. Right now, I'm In the process of finding an estate attorney to set up a trust for my daughter and grandchildren. I feel that my duty to her and them are to protect their inheritance from that thief. I will never trust him as long as he's around. He will not gamble my hard earned money away now or never . I no longer have sympathy for him and I realize that he's the only one who can decide to seek help. As I have told him, I will support him 100% if he gets help. His actions not his word will regain some trust from me. However, my feelings are that one can never completely trust an addict. I will always be on guard with him. I just feel so helpless. My daughter and grandkids don't deserve to live like this

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on May 19, 2016:

Blind bride - I cannot tell you what to do...but if it was me I would hold off on marrying him. Gambling away your wedding fund is a huge red flag. Using your credit card without asking or telling you what happened is a disaster in the making. You're preparing to marry someone who lies and can do better. I'm praying for you.

Readytobedone: My heart goes out to you and your children. Find out if there is a domestic violence hotline in your area and call them to see what resources are available. If your husband is bullying you into handing over your paycheck - that's financial abuse. If your employer has direct deposit available - you might want to deposit directly into your checking account. If you are afraid for your safety to set financial boundaries with this man - then you have to get help. You can also look online for a Gam-Anon in your area and start going to meetings so you can make connections and get the help and support you need. Even if your husband never gets better, you and your children deserve so much more out of life. What you describe is no way to live.

My father is still at it and he is in his seventies. He just tried to open new credit card accounts, after my mother finally finished paying off his credit card debt from gambling. She has separate accounts, and he has no access to her money thank goodness.

Please, please, please reach out to the organizations I mentioned and get help. If all else fails, go to your local police department, describe what's happening and see if they can't direct you to some help. I'm sending good energy to you and your kids. Let us know what happens.

Readytobedone on May 16, 2016:

I have read and reread your article numerous times over the last few months. As we sit now, we have a foreclosure sale date on our home in 2 weeks. My husband just went Friday when I got paid and lost my entire paycheck at the casino. This has been going on for 6 months now. I'm past done, we haven't had a refrigerator for 6 months, because it broke and he lost our entire $8000 tax refund at the casino. Then there's never enough money to get another because it goes to the casino. I get paid weekly, he doesn't work, and by Monday, we're broke. I have to scrape and scrounge just to be able to pay for gas to get to work. I'm going today to open my own account, and I made sure to ask if he would happen to gain access to it if I could file fraud charges...I can. We have been married for 16 years together for 21. We have a 6 year old and an 11 year old. I want desperately to leave, but don't know how. I have no family here and I also feel like I shouldn't have to leave, he should, but he gets very violent when confronted with that. Plus, when he takes my entire am I supposed to? I love him, but I hate him for what he's done to our family. How do you come back from something like this?

Blindbride on May 12, 2016:

Where do I begin? Just found out today my fiancé gambled our wedding find away... He only admitted what happened as we are due to pay the church and he used my credit card and I asked him why. (I have now changed my PIN number) Due to get married in July and he has had to cash in shares to pay for it. I'm not sure if I'm marrying the person I thought he was. We have been together 3 years and have a child together. Everything is arranged for the wedding and all should be paid for when his shares are released. Should I over look this as a one off or postpone the wedding till I can trust him again? I'm so heartbroken and disappointed in him

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on May 03, 2016:

Hi Pkey,

I think it's hard to tell someone what to do without knowing them. I think your boyfriend thinks he can stop on willpower alone, he hasn't so far. He needs support through therapy or a 12 step program like GA. You might want to encourage him to get help in cleaning up his act. As long as you keep your finances separate and maintain solid financial should be ok. As to whether you want to stay with a compulsive gambler...I also suggest that you might want to get some counseling. Good luck!

Pkey on May 03, 2016:


I began a relationship with an ex alcoholic and compulsive gambler just over a year ago. We love each other but I don't know if I am doing to right thing staying with him. I am finically independent with my own house and a good stable job. He never asks me for money and fully admits that he is a compulsive gambler. I am clear in my head that I will always keep our finances separate. Since I have known him he has tried to stop three times. Firstly time he made a big annocement held my hand etc etc. It was touching and I was proud of him. It lasted a week. Second time it was a quieter affair, he decided a bad day was his last. I wished him luck and told him I loved him and hoped it worked. This time lasted four months. He admitted to gambling three times over the last two weekends. Is disgusted with himself and has stopped. I genuinely think he is trying and one thing I am certain of is that he really wants to. He describes it as hell. He was much worse in the past. I have told him that if he stays gambling I will have to leave him. Am I crazy to give him a chance. I am very independent and strong minded but I am also highly sensitive and prone to low self esteem.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on November 22, 2015:

Hi Jess,

I'm sorry for what you're going through. I know how hard it is to be married to a CG. And I feel for your kids, who are growing up with two parents that are not functioning, and unless you do something to change your situation, your kids will struggle with problems for the rest of their lives.

I know this because I have struggled for most of my life because of growing up with an abusive CG for a father, and a mother who tolerated his madness by staying with him.

The fact that you have to sleep with your ATM card under your pillow, indicates that you and your children are living with a level of insanity that's unmanageable...and you're part of the problem. Your husband is not being a real husband or father.

Please get some help before it's too late and you're all destitute, if you aren't already. Codependents Anonymous has meetings everywhere and you should check it out. Your husband won't change, only you can change. Sending prayers to you and your kids.

Jess on November 22, 2015:

Married to a CG for 4 years now, 2 of those he's been a CG right when we brought our 1st child into this world. Took out my 401K to make ends meet & lie after lie he promised he was done. I always believe him too. And right when the trust is built he wipes us clean. After changing all bank accounts all into my name only, he still has managed to continue to steal from those accounts, by forging my name on checks made out to him, and stealing my debit card (which I keep under my pillow at night) he knows when I'm in a deep sleep & will get it & go in middle of night to wipe all of my cash out. Well 2 kids later, lost jobs, maxed out credit cards, & major debt all in my name I'm in denial with hopes he will change, & pay it back but needing to leave him for the sake of my kids futures! But I can't because I love him! I can't keep asking my family for money due to my husband gambling every penny I make away! My kids need a sane mother not one that is constantly freaking out about finances!

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 18, 2015:

Hi Gregory,

You're smart not to marry her. As long as she's not able to raid your assets, you can go along in the relationship for a long time. Clearly she has problems...and problems not dealt with only get worse. When there is a child gets complicated. I hope she's on a payment plan to return that money to your son. Good luck!

Gregory on October 17, 2015:

This article was very helpful. My significant other has had a problem with gambling for a while, but with a few exceptions has managed to keep it from having a real significant impact on our family. However, I just recently discovered that she has taken all of the cash we have been saving for our 6 year old son, from birthday and Christmas gifts, etc. When confronted, she does not get defensive or lash out, she will just look at the floor and cry. But this is not the first time something like this has happened, and no matter what she cannot seem to stop. I don't have definitive proof she is still gambling, but there are a lot of signs there, and she does not deny it when I tell her what I think is going on. We don't have joint accounts, and no major assets together as we are not married - I know things could be worse. But she went seeking out our child's savings that I purposefully hid from her, and took it all without a word. To me that is unacceptable and I am seriously considering ending our relationship of several years. I am most worried about our young son. He is well-adjusted, good at school, and loves his family, and this is all he has known his whole life. If we separate, I am afraid he will never be the same. I wish she would seek the help she needs before anything escalates even further, but I know that is absolutely her decision, and there is nothing I can do make that happen.

Thanks again for the helpful words in your article.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 15, 2015:

Dear Mags,

I know it's hard to believe, but it really has nothing to do with you. He has a disease, so he cannot think clearly. If it's any consolation, most gamblers hate themselves for what they do, but they can't stop. Just take care of yourself and focus on rebuilding a better life.

Mags Northern Ireland on October 15, 2015:

I am so hurt by my now ex partners deceit i feel that i will never get over this. He is a clever manipulator who took advantage of my illnesses to handle all our bills and shopping so was always busy running around! . Your article has given me some insight into the workings of his true mind but i am completely devastated that someone i trusted with my heart and soul could hurt me so much.

Thanks again

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on October 10, 2015:

Hi Scott,

I'm so sorry for you situation. As long as your wife is not willing to get help and take responsibility for her addiction, nothing will change. I can tell you it will only get worse, as I've watched my parents unravel over the last couple of decades. Your son and you deserve a sane and safe life.

Please seek out Gam anon meetings for you and your son. If you do not leave and get help, your son is eventually going to resent you for not doing anything.

I can't tell you what to do, but if it was me I would seek a divorce and try to move on to a normal life. You can only save yourself and your son. She needs to hit bottom before she gets help. If you're keeping her afloat, there's no reason for her to seek help. I'm sending prayers your way.

Scott on October 08, 2015:

I can feel my 12 yr old sons and my world crumbling around us . My wife is a compulsive gambler makes great money but has nothing but debt and has gradually gotten towards the point of not contributing towards any bills. She is miserable all the time arguing about money . And uses the excuse that I don't spend any time with her . I have gotten in the habit of working a lot of overtime to pay the bills in fear of losing our house . My son wants to either kick her out or leave her . He wants to live with me because he thinks she won't care for him and is tired of the mental abuse . And I would want him with me because I love him . I am at wits end I've had enough of the lies the many jobs the outbursts arguments and lies it has been very mentally draining . What can I do ?

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on September 09, 2015:

Hi Fiona,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you're able to distance yourself from your husband's addiction. Knowledge is a powerful thing with this disease. I wanted to help other people struggling with this. Good luck in rebuilding your life. :-)

Fiona on September 09, 2015:

Hi macteacher, unfortunately my husband was self employed & able to work for cash as well as cheques, so he had full control of what went into our account. It was cash earnings that was going on gambling & I couldn't see.

Thankfully I got out from under it & am trying to build my own life. But I found educating myself on this addiction is so essential to coming to peace with it.

I found your write up so clear it illuminates the cracks & crevices we fall into when faced with having to deal with this seriously debilitating, disempowering & destructive addiction it really helps to read it to help a person to understand you really have to take back your power when dealing with this addiction

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on August 21, 2015:

Hi Fiona,

I don't know much about legal separations. There must be a way to get bank records of large cash withdrawals. In these days of digital currency, large withdrawals are suspect. I don't know your situation, but if you're seeing a lawyer, you might want a second opinion. Good luck!

fiona on August 20, 2015:

Hi macteacher excellent article I left the CG over two years ago. We are now caught up in legal seperation which will not recognize gambling unless I can prove it very frustrating

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on July 17, 2015:

I guess if it was my kid, and he was over 18, I would give him 30 days notice that he is to be out of the house. When the 30 days were up, and he hadn't moved a muscle, I would wait till he was out, pack up his stuff and put it on the curb. Then I would change the locks.

It's really up to you. Are you serious about getting him out? I don't mean to be harsh, but you're the one enabling his lifestyle by not setting any boundaries with him.

Compulsive gamblers will use and abuse the people nearest to them - until those people have had enough and stand up for themselves. You might want to try Gam-Anon or CoDa or any of the 12 step groups. Meeting other parents in the same situation, and finding out they're handling it might help. My prayers are with you, and I hope you are able to save yourself and your sanity from your son.

SoTiedandScared on July 16, 2015:

how do you get you child to leave? he is a compulsive gambler, he has partial custody and won't grow up. he has children with several different women and he is abusive. How can I MAKE him leave? He pays for NOTHING except his child support. Everything else is spent on gambling, and then he "borrows" when he runs out.

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on June 22, 2015:

I'm so sorry. At least he is being honest, and not lying to you about his addiction or trying to cover it up. My prayers go out to you and your family.

gile on June 19, 2015:

I'm leaving my husband in few weeks. Today, he just said that there is nothing I can do for him to stop. That he does not care what I do.

Kenneth Avery on April 27, 2014:


You are very welcome for my words of truth. I sensed when I read the first words of your hub that you had a very-high IQ and lots of talent in the writing field. I love that.

And you did a fantastic job on this subject. I wish you would do more on similar subjects.

My hubs are mostly tongue-in-cheek, but I have some abstract/prose poetry hubs that you might enjoy.

Just having you follow me is a huge compliment. Thank you and God bless you.

Your friend in the south,


Wendy Golden (author) from New York on April 27, 2014:

Thank you Kenneth,

It took a long time to write that hub. It's a very challenging subject for me for many reasons. I believe legalized gambling is going to become like heroin amongst the elderly. With millions of aging baby boomers retiring and a lot of extra time on their hands, it's a ticking time bomb. I'm going to take a look at some of your hubs right now. :-) Thanks for your kind and supportive words. :-) It means a lot.

Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on April 27, 2014:

Hello, macteacher,

I loved this piece of fantastic writing. You nailed it. And the topic, presentation and graphics were superb. Compulsive gambling, to me, is on the same level as alcoholism--both are killers running wild in our land and country.

I gave you a Vote up and on every choice because you deserved it. I wish you my very best on HubPages and in any other writing pursuits you may have.

I am going to leave you some fan mail and follow you.

I would love for you to read one or two of my hubs and then become one of my followers.

A hubber cannot have too many friends.


Kenneth/ from northwest Alabama

Lin on April 04, 2014:

Thank you. Your article has made me think of going to a support group. As you say, anyone who has lived with a CG comes out of it emotionally damaged (as well as financially ruined!). You feel so isolated and the lies told leave you breathless with pain. You lose all sense of trust, in those around you and your own judgement. I think speaking with others who have gone through same or similar would help. To those who have spoken of their exhaustion in dealing with this, often women also taking primary care of the kids, I hear you. X

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on April 03, 2014:

Hi Lin,

I"m sorry for you loss. I'm sending prayers that you and your kids get back on track, and you will. Good luck!

Lin on April 03, 2014:

Wished I had read your article before my CG ex gambled away our money and left me and kids with nothing. Your article was very straight and honest - well done. I am exhausted from all the drama and lies, emotionally wrecked and trying to rebuild my life and start again for sake of kids. I hope to salvage my own sense of self one painful step at a time. Good luck to all you out there x

Wendy Golden (author) from New York on March 29, 2014:

Dear Overwhelmed,

You're not alone, all of us who are related to a gambler feel that way. If you can't reach out to family, please try a Gam-Anon meeting. Spend some time with people who are going through the same thing. It will help yo