I think my father is a problem gambler

ForgottenVariableForgottenVariable Registered User regular
edited July 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Just this weekend, my dad gambled $50 on Friday, $100 more on Saturday, and $300 on Sunday (this $300 consisted of $100 he had brought and another $200 he got from a cash advance). He's used roughly a grand in the past two weeks, and despite my family's best efforts, will not consider treatment.

A bit of history about this problem, he's been gambling for the last two years, beginning with trips with business friends. However, he began going alone later on and kept using larger and larger amounts. Eventually this reached a peak when he spent $1300 in one night through a huge string of cash advances. This night he returned to the house a gibbering mess, and threatened suicide several times. Though I was able to talk him down from this state and see him agree to get treatment, this never happened. He attempted to quit on his own and failed.

Since those three weeks, he spent continually larger sums until he reached this weekend, another breaking point. The problem is, he is actively refusing help. He admits that he has an issue that is hurting the whole family, but is unwilling to join a support group or get counseling. He once again believes that he can quit on his own, that we should give him another chance.

Now, onto my situation in this little conflict. I'm currently a college student with a reasonably steady job. I live at home during the summer, but am financially independent otherwise (pay my own tuition, have more than enough surplus for my expenses, etc). I fear that part of the reason my dad did not quit successfully the first time was because I had to go back to college; I was only home for a weekend. I also fear that he's hurting my mother and sister quite a bit and I'd like to somehow get them out of this situation.

What can I do to help him past this problem?

EDIT: His game of choice is video poker, if that makes a difference.

ForgottenVariable on


  • Durandal InfinityDurandal Infinity Registered User
    edited June 2008
    From a person that loves to hit black jack alot I understand what your dad is going through. You get sort of a " hand high" that makes you wanna play more and more and try to streak not really setting monetary limits up or down. He needs help, he really does the only problem is you can't help those that dont want to be helped. He doesn't seem to be blowing too much money though which is lucky for your family. If your mom and he have a joint account you can have her lock or cap him. ALSO you should get brochures of the million 12 step programs for gambling and leave them on his bed and nightstand.

    Durandal Infinity on
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Just like with a parent with any other type of addiction--please remember that he is not your responsibility, his problem is not your problem, and that he can't be helped until he WANTS to be helped, and that may not happen until he's hit total rock bottom. Just like with alcoholism--there's honestly not a lot you can actually do if he has a real problem. You aren't trained or equipped to help him. He needs a professional. It's natural for you to want to help, but in many cases family members think they are helping when they are really just enabling (cleaning up his mess).

    Not sure if there is a gambling addiction version of Al-Anon (support for families and friends of alcoholics) but I would contact a group like that. They can give you and your mom help not only dealing with the emotional aspects, but also the practical aspects of keeping your dad from putting your family in a very bad financial situaiton.

    Edit: just noticed internet poker--your dad may be getting hit with the double wammy of problem gambling AND internet addiction. You need to talk to a professional, either way, for your peace of mind and your families. It's sounds harsh, but it's important to understand. You cannot fix this on your own.

  • LondonBridgeLondonBridge __BANNED USERS
    edited June 2008
    Gambling is an addiction because it increases some thrill chemistry with the risk of winning & losing, it's not just about the money.

    It's a real shame you can't whack an addict over the head and tell them to quit, especially when it's a family member. I suggest going elsewhere for help besides the PA forums. There must be better online help than what we can give.

    Good luck!

    LondonBridge on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited June 2008
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    Not sure if there is a gambling addiction version of Al-Anon (support for families and friends of alcoholics) but I would contact a group like that. They can give you and your mom help not only dealing with the emotional aspects, but also the practical aspects of keeping your dad from putting your family in a very bad financial situaiton.

    In my limited experience, Al-Anon chapters are welcoming to people dealing with any manner of addictions in their families.

    ForgottenVariable: what your father needs is consistency and firmness. Somebody - preferably his wife - needs to lay down some ground rules and stick with them. She doesn't necessarily need to kick him to the curb right now but she needs to tell him exactly where her limits are. A good communication pattern to use is "If you do X, then I will do Y." For example: "If you borrow money for gambling one more time I am taking the kids and going to my sister's house." Or "You have one week to get into therapy and a support group and if you don't then I am leaving." It sounds harsh but really that's the only thing she can do. If she starts giving him second and third and fourth chances, he's just going to take advantage of them. But if he's given a clear "If you do X then I will do Y," then he really only has himself to blame when X leads to Y.

    By the way, how old is your sister?

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • musanmanmusanman Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Most casinos these days offer places you can call if you feel like you're having a problem. Gambler's anonymous etc.

    Ultimately he needs to be confronted intervention style so that everybody can show him who he is hurting and how. If he doesn't think it's an issue, gather up all the people who think it is and have them explain why. As somebody who has been addressed as having a gambling problem I can tell you right now he's going to make the argument it's all about the swings and that he'll make it back.

    There is a difference between gambling swings and what he is doing. If you are unable to approach a casino with a sound strategy regarding your spending that you can execute it no longer becomes entertainment but impulse. He is acting on impulses that he is unable to control, thus he needs help.

    musanman on
  • ForgottenVariableForgottenVariable Registered User regular
    edited June 2008
    Alright, I'm planning on referring my mother and sister to Gam-anon (apparently it does exist) and lightly encouraging my father to seek a group to help him. I suppose he'll just have to work it out as he goes. A mod can feel free to lock this thread.

    Thank you guys very much for the advice provided!

    ForgottenVariable on
  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited July 2008
    I'm sure you have all of the advice you need, but if he won't get himself help you have to do it for him. Interventions sound pretty cheesy, but if your dad refuses to straighten up you might have to be a little more aggressive about it. Good luck, hopefully all goes well.

    Zombiemambo on
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