Gambling - the hidden addiction

By Deborah Condon

As much as 5% of the adult population could be suffering from an addiction, for which there is no blood or urine test, an expert has told a public meeting in Dublin.

Compulsive gambling is a 'hidden addiction', according to Joanna Franklin, an American clinical specialist working in this field. Ms Franklin is also author of the book, Problem Gambling - The Hidden Addiction.

She pointed out that 2 - 5% of the adult population has this impulse control disorder, while up to 15% of 12 - 17 year olds also have an uncontrollable urge to gamble.

"Sports betting, race and dog tracks, casinos, lotteries - gambling is everywhere today and the internet and other technologies now make it very easy to start", she said.

Ms Franklin emphasised that gambling addiction can be treated successfully, with the help of, for example, 12-step groups like Gamblers Anonymous and professional counsellors.

"Having a good job and good income and still being unable to pay the bills. Having no savings. Having the need to borrow money regularly - these are just some of the indicators of gambling addiction", she explained.

However, she added, there is help for those 'tired of losing'.

"Learning what to do and learning what not to do can be the beginning of recovery", she said.

Ms Franklin was speaking at a public meeting organised by the Rutland Centre, as part of its Addiction Awareness Week, which runs until September 30. The Rutland Centre, which is an addiction treatment centre, can be contacted at (01) 494 6358.


Anonymous - 29/09/2005 13:51

my message would be to anyone living with a gambler or trying to help a gambler ,do not ever think by paying debts for them that you are helping them,they see this as a sort of life line and you should never put yourself in finacial debt to help your loved ones that have this addiction.

DONAL(MQT19651) - 29/09/2005 15:29


Helena - 10/11/2005 20:21

Hi, my boyfriend recently admitted to loosing rent money in a casino, it then came to the surface that this has been going on a while. It never got to the stage that he was not able to pay his rent until this week but now thinking about it I realise that for the past while, whenever we go out I pay because he's always broke, all the food in the house was paid for by me, etc. I feel used and taken for granted, he was living off me for weeks, so he could go gambling, and because I'm a generous person I never really noticed it. I'm so silly for not realising sooner. He freely admitted it's a problem and promised he'd stop, he swore the lies would stop etc. Do you think I should give him a chance and believe him, or would I be best to call it a day. I'm only 21 and don't want to be stick with a gambler for the rest of my life.I really dont know what to do next. I cant force him to go to councelling etc, he'd say no straight out. I really want to believe him.

beenthere - 11/11/2005 10:27

to the young girl who does not know what to do next.if your boyfriend has admitted he has a problem its a start,i know because i have lived and i am now married to a gambler.give him a chance to prove himself ,don't continually question him about what he is doing with his money,if he is contributing to the household bills and you think it is fair ,then its a start to getting the trust back into your relatsionship.If and when it happens again that he can't or won't explain what has happened to his weekly wage or you start getting excuses that this and that had to be paid off ,then you know that he is not going to change or has not got the willpower or strength to go it alone.i know all this because too many times my husband has put gambling before me and has been utterly sorry and gone back out and done it again,the mistake i made 5 years ago is that i helped him cover his bad debts and he took this as a life line because he knew i loved him and still do,but things have not improved in our relatsionship .,My advice to you at only 21 years of age is if you cant trust him walk away now ,if he is going to meeting to deal with this then maybe you can help ,but he has to want to help himself of luck.

sue(AOK66971) - 03/12/2007 22:01

help is there a way out of this dreaded disease. what do I feed my kids with when there is no wage?? Why do men not think of that before they put a bet on.

Anonymous - 10/12/2007 11:25

Make it non-negoti9able that your salaries go into a separate account and a direct debit for their addict's contribution to towards bills and food goes into a joint account from which you can pay household debts (ESB, heat Gas etc) and buy groceries.

marjanne - 11/12/2007 00:50

How do you cope with a son who has been stealing money from home and sometimes using a bank card, for gambling. Not huge amounts each time but built up over a few months. He only has a small income but now we make sure he can't get any money from us. He mostly spends it on scratch cards and an odd visit to the bookies. I want to help before it gets any worse.

upset - 02/05/2008 23:04

I know it's ages since someone posted on this topic but I am at my wits end. My boyfriend who I live with has always had an interest in "horses". The last few months I know he had gambled a lot and I was funding our etc. He said he would pay the rent this month and I gave him my share to pay foolishly. He gambled and lost the lot. i'm so upset. In addition to this he also owes me 4,800. I thought we had a future together. Would I be mad to think this guy can change? Im seriously distraught and don't know where we will get the money to pay the rent.

Anonymous - 06/05/2008 11:22

To upset, i know excatly how you feel.I have spent the last 8 yrs of my life picking up the pieces of a relationship wrecked by gambling.A gambler will continue as long as he/she has the means to continue ,ie using you or i as their crutch. i too am owed thousands of euros true one lie or another. i still love my husband but have recently asked him to move out .he did and hopefully he will move on with his life as i am doing for the last month.being totally honest with you i had to seperate from him or risk losing my sanity for the pressure like you trying to cope with bad debts.we may love our partners but funding the addition is not helping.Hope you have the strength to sort it out.Its not easy it took me 8 yrs but it will get of luck.

Louise(GAS71112) - 07/05/2008 14:52

Dear all, I work for a production company specialising in observational documentaries. We are currently making a health series for RTE and BBC and one of the areas we would like to highlight is the problem of gambling, both from the gamblers perspective and those close family members. I am trying to talk to as many people as possible about this addiction, however I'm finding it difficult to find people. If anyone would be willing to talk to me about there experiences I would love to hear from them. You can contact me on 028 9032 6061 (Northern Ireland), Many thanks, Louise

upset - 07/05/2008 16:48

I would talk about my partners gambling anonymously other then that not a hope (unless I got paid loads and loads to tell my horrible would pay the debts left by him. It's a very snesitive subject as you are aware. Good luck

Alanna - 28/07/2008 16:49

Hi I have recently found out that my Fiance has a huge gambling problem. He has admitted this and has gone to G/A but I don't believe him when he says he will not have another bet. He gambled 75,000 alone in May of this year. I think he needs more help than just G/A. Only i opened his bank statements because i suspected I would never have known and we would have got married. I am finding it very hard to trust him and am beginning to resent him. We are due to get married next year and I don't know if i can. He swears he wont bet again. I am so hurt and he doesnt want my family to know or his. This is putting huge pressure on me. Everyone is asking me about the wedding and it is so hard to pretend all is ok

upset - 30/07/2008 04:16

Hi everyone, I am glad this post is still going. My life with my partner is getting worse. He actually won 9k the week before last...then lost it again plus another 2000 (and this is the money i know about so it could be alot more) This week despite being broke he went off to the Galway Races with his buddies. No doubt he has borrowed money from them now too which mean I'll be stuck to pay for everything bill wise. I'm tired of it all yet I can not leave him. I am foolishly thinking that if he hit rock bottom he might see he has a problem. The only thing is I'm unsure where rock bottom is as it feels like we are there all the time. Is there anyway I can get him to see that this is a serious problem. Our lives are on hold all because of this and I am seriously getting more devestated about day by day. I really would love to tell someone in his family but then think I am opening a huge can of ugly worms going down that road. Any suggests anyone...? I dont want to leave him for some strange reason..Thanks for letting me rant!

From the outside - 30/07/2008 10:50

Hi All, I wonder could you help me. My husband's father appears to have a serious gambling problem. He's in his 60's and works hard and doesn't drink at all. But all his money seems to go on the bookies. Not the 5 I mite have on the grand national at easter but 50 or 100 or 200 at a go on various races. This all came out recently when my husband became unemployed and we were sorting out our financial bits and pieces and it came out that he had lent his father various sums - as in hundreds over the last two years, in order to pay bills. This puzzled me as they have no mortgage, no health problems and their remaining adult children living at home are working. That's when i pieced it together and the penny dropped. It all came out then how there have been massive rows in the house over the years about gambling. My mother-in-law doesn't know how much he earns or what he gets in overtime or what his debts are - which seems utterly bizarre to me as my parents were always open about money and so are my husband and I and indeed so were my grandparents for what little bit they had back then. It then came out that their landline was cut off because he never paid the bill, he had a 'secret' credit card. In other words only he used it and my mother-in-law didn't know about it until she saw the bill one day - for thousands. In addition, she claims reason to believe that he tried to remortgage the house. She's not the best communicator on the planet and every discussion about bills debts or money seems to end in a blazing row - so much so that my sister in law, who still lives there has on more than one occasion rang us at 4 and 5am asking us to drive down and try and sort things out she was so upset. This is further fueled by the fact that my mother-in-law has now started to drink - quite a lot, as it happens and doesn't seem to know when to stop. And it's seems to be making her angry, highly suspicious to the point almost of paranoia and almost aggressive, which is not like her at all. Of course this makes the rows 100% worse. My husband is the eldest and at his wits end. Would any of you have any advice as to how I can help or what I could do or even who I could talk to. I'd be very grateful

Alanna - 30/07/2008 11:05

I can only tell you what i did when i found out the extent of the problem he had. I went to his oldest brother and I told him. He needed help and if he wouldnt listen to me then maybe he would listen to his family.We are both still young and I just could not handle it on my own. It was only when i did this and i threatened to walk out did he admitt he had a problem. Since he has gone to meetings and all wages are lodged into my account. I still do not know if we are going to make it as all trust has been lost and at the moment I am very unhappy.

Lenny - 13/08/2008 23:04

Hi all, I'm writing an article on gambling addiction. I'm looking to speak to women who are caught up in this addiction about their experiences etc.I would love to hear from someone who can help me to highlight this growing problem among women. Contact me on Lenny

Tel - 04/09/2008 17:19

Hi all - I'm married to someone who's had a gambling problem for about 5 years now, and who only admitted he had a gambling problem about 2 months ago. He's started going to GA and we've started having relationship counselling. I was leaving him right up to the point where he actually said "I have a gambling problem". Now I'm going to stay and work with him. Up to then, he kept saying things like "I've had a run of bad luck, I just can't seem to discipline myself etc." but never actually admitted to a gambling problem. To upset & Alanna - I'll be cruel: if you think you can live without the person, end the relationship now! Don't worry about what other people think. I'm working to save my marriage because we have two children together, so there's more at stake than pride or a broken heart. But it's bloody hard work and there's no guarantee it will work. It's not just the crippling debt, I've never been materialistic. The main problem is the distance that developed between us when gambling became his priority to the detriment of his family. It's a hard gap to bridge. It's hard to rebuild trust and communication. I would say that if - of his own accord - your man states: "I have a gambling problem" and agrees to go to GA - AND, to Fiance, if he also agrees to relationship counselling prior to the wedding - then, I would stay with him. But if he's anyway still in denial about the problem, save yourself now. Please. Please save yourself from the struggle and unhappiness of living with a gambler. To anyone living with a gambler: check out GamAnon - there aren't as many meetings as GA, but it is a good support network for families of gamblers.

blurx - 21/02/2015 19:05

Hi all.. My boyfriend of 2 years confessed he has a gambling addiction which started in June but he got hooked in September. He is going to GA meeting and he seems to be getting back to himself. Do I give him a second chance or should I just walk away?? 

Bartholemew - 25/07/2015 16:30

I live with a girl whose son is a gambler. He contributes nothing to the house financially or otherwise. He has robbed us both at different times, pawned laptops, one of which was never to be seen again. He has also threatened me with violence twice. He used to take our cars out uninsured when we weren't around. For a long time she used to tolerate it but thank God she is starting to see through him but I think she's just too soft sometimes. Two nights ago he wen't through our room and stole 100 euro. He cam home today and I confronted him. I was told by him on no uncertain terms that it was none of my business but between he and his mother. Fact is he steals from both of us. I pay for half of everything he eats, half the heat and power he burns, all the tv and broadband. I have tried burying my head in the sand but emotionally I find that even worse, keeping me awake and generating huge amounts of self hatred for not standing up for myself and for not having a one line answer that will turn the whole issue around and restore harmony. I don't see this ending any time soon. We went to Gam Anon for a while but when he found out, he confronted her saying he didn't want her discussing his business.... and yup...she stopped going. I think I may go back just for myself and let her make her own descisionns.

Nickname: to be used for all future posts.
Notification: Tick this box if you wish to receive e-mail notifications of further posts on this topic