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Is the gambler ready to handle money?

answered 08:29 AM EST, Thu October 27, 2011
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My son has a gambling problem. And in the past couple of years he has taken a couple of substantial loans from us and not payed them back and he has even stolen from our family business to cover his gambling debts. I am not angry anymore because I recognize that he has a disease and he did a lot of things he never would have normally done because he was not really in control of himself. Now he has completed a gambling treatment program and he is going to GA and he says he is doing good and he has not gambled at all for 6 months.

He does not have much an education and he is finding it very hard to get a job right now. He has some debts he needs to pay off to which makes things harder for him. We have a family business which involves selling imported handicrafts at festivals and fairs around the state. He has always worked with us and he can make a good living doing it and now he is asking for his job back. He says he is ready and we can trust him now. But the problem is it is very easy for someone working a festival on his own to skim the sales without our knowledge. This is why we only have family working with us. I am worried that it will be too much temptation for him to be able to have access to a lot of money. Maybe the only reason he can control himself now is because he has no money to lose? How can I tell if he is ready to come back to work and control the money again?

Donna Hunter Says...

Donna Hunter D. Hunter

Your son should be commended for going to rehab and following through with GA. Hopefully he is actively working on the12 steps, has a sponsor and has created a relapse prevention plan. Regaining trust is not a simple task. Of course there is a desire to help him now that you see that he is helping himself, however you are correct in assuming that having money in his pocket is most likely a trigger. Addiction is a cunning and baffling disease for everyone involved. Being on the road and handling large sums of money would be difficult. An addict has to have a strong plan of action to deal with the impulse to use when they are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT) or feeling any kind of emotion. Addicts use substances and behaviors to alter uncomfortable feelings.

He is in the position of needing to win your trust back.  That means you get to be in charge of how many restraints and controls you put on him when it regards your family business. Do you send him with someone else who is in charge of the money? Do you ask to talk to his sponsor? Do you have him show you his relapse prevention plan? How is he going to continue to make GA meetings while traveling? Do you just say "we are sorry but we don’t trust you yet"? You have to decided what you are most comfortable doing, even if it is not what your son wants to hear. For an addict being clean for five months seems like a long and substantial time. But when you compare it to the amount of time he was gambling, is it really a substantial time? What things has he done now that deals with having cash in hand? How has he handled it?

Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule of readiness. Ultimately this is a question of: Are you ready to trust him with that much responsibility?

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Page last updated Oct 29, 2011

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