20 March 2023 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
I have always trusted my husband to take care of the finances. But he was always telling me that we’re running short, and I know we’ve been using more and more credit cards. One day I opened one of the credit card statements and saw some bills that puzzled me. I did a little research on Google, and found they were online gambling sites. I opened more of the statements, and discovered dozens of similar entries, from several different sites. There were a few credits—”wins,” I suppose—but the debits outweighed them by many multiples, to the tune of about $25,000 lost. I confronted him, and he admitted it—but assured me that it’s all going to work out, because his luck is improving and he’s going to win it all back.
I never had a clue—and I don’t even know what to do or where to start to address this.
Signed, Totally Shocked!
Addictions come in many forms, not just substances like alcohol or heroin. Gambling triggers the reward center in the brain in a unique way. Experts say the “payoff” for winning is as much an addiction as if the gambler were using a drug!
Here’s the hardest part, which your husband’s response that “his luck is improving” shows he doesn’t understand yet: he must admit that he has a problem and needs help. When addicts aren’t ready to accept that their actions are a problem, when they don’t realize that they can’t control the addiction on their own, pushing them can be counterproductive and actually drive them deeper into it.
And research on breaking the addiction cycle tells us that shame isn’t a motivator to positive change—just the opposite.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you accept it. Your husband is stuck in a cycle that could lead to bankruptcy and homelessness. You will need to set clear boundaries to protect yourself and assert your family’s needs.
You need outside support, and you can begin your search at Gam-Anon, a support group for family members of people with a gambling addiction.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to seek help. This group will advise you on the nuances of how to help your spouse, and how to cope when you are feeling hopeless. People I know who have utilized such groups report feeling empowered and at peace in a way they haven’t felt since they learned of the problem.
Because I do not know all the specifics of your situation, I will refrain from advising you further, but I urge you not to hesitate: without professional intervention, a gambling addiction can destroy your family’s happiness and security.
Prayers for you as you navigate this difficult path.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.