My husband thinks he can control his gambling addiction

My husband has been a gambler during all of the 21 years of our marriage. He was a gambler way before I met him. Although, when we married during a whirlwind, I had no idea what I was in for.

I cannot stop him. I have tried everything I know to do. Early on, I left him and filed for divorce. He promised me he would quit. He can quit for a period of months when he wants to. I tried Gamblers Anonymous. They told me to let him hit bottom. Lose our house, ruin our credit, go bankrupt. I could not do it. We talk, we discuss. He thinks he can control it this time (which is every time).

I do not help him gamble. He earns decent money and I earn decent money. He pays for as little as possible and I am stuck with the rest. He gambles everything he earns and has us in serious debt with a home equity loan.

I used to get angry. I can't anymore. I'm too tired. It doesn't seem to matter what I do or say, he will gamble anyway.

He thinks he can control his addition. I don't think he can.

Has anyone out there ever been able to control their addition by anything other than quitting?



Dear Pollock,

I have been a compulsive gambler for 10yrs. For the past 3 yrs have been in recovery and this has largely been due to Gamblers Anonymous. Hitting rock-bottom makes you realize you have a problem. As long as there is someone who will bail you out of the financial difficulties, or allow you to have $ with which to play, you will never come to the realization of how much damage you are causing to yourself and your family. The advice that Gamblers Anonymous gave you is accurate...if you continue to 'enable' the gambler he will not ever realize he has a problem.

Gambling is a disease and while so many people have thought they can control it, and may stop for brief periods, when they return or slip, the damage begins again. Has your husband ever gone to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting? It is at a meeting where he may begin to recognize some of his symptoms and at least start to half admit to himself there maybe something wrong.

It sounds like you control the finances somewhat by paying the bills and allowing your husband to have free reign of the money he earns. I'm sure that creates a lot of animosity on your end...always being the one to take care of things. Maybe you can discuss a new financial arrangement with him for your family where your paycheck is not used to pay the family bills.

But, to answer your question, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible for a compulsive gambler to control or manage his gambling once it is out of control. Gamblers Anonymous is a lifesaver and you should explore ways of getting your husband to go to a meeting even if he's not ready to admit he is a compulsive gambler...just to see what it's all about.

Best of luck,

That was an excellent response Zoe. It is unfortunate how some people (me included) have to hit rock bottom before realizing they have a problem. You cannot control this addiction it controls you. Only when you realize that you are powerless to this addiction can you start your recovery. You literally have to get down on your hands and knees and ask for help otherwise there will be no recovery process.

Pollock, I am sure you love your husband and want to do what is best. Like Zoe said, have him attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting and maybe he will see the light. Gamblers Anonymous only works if you work it so one meeting is not enough but you have to start somewhere. Please print out the story titled 27 years of Compulsive Gambling for your husband and if you have any questions please let me know because that is my story.

One more item; I don't know what type of gambler your husband is but if it is slot machines, horse races, sports betting, table games, stock market or whatever, tell him when he gives the casino or bookie his hard earned $100 or $1000 and wins they are going to give him back $100 or $1000 not you or your family. Make your husband realize he is risking his family each and every time he gambles. I hope this makes sense.



Hi Pollock,

I am an ex-casino manager and ex-compulsive gambler. Although it is possible to take control of gambling, it can olny be done, as far as I know, by taking control of the 'self'. I did it through self-help psychology. It is a long hard haul that takes a great deal of hard work and a lot of determination and self discipline, and not something for everybody.

Many will say that it is not possible to control addictive gambling, the same as a smoker, or drinker cannot have one cigarette, or one drink. But gambling is different, in that, one is not 'introducing a substance' into their system. With gambling, one becomes addicted to drugs that are produced by the brain itself.

If your husband 'thinks' he can control the gambling, make an agreement with him. Get out of debts 'first' then agree to a 'gambling budget' of an agreeable amount per month. Keep a sharp eye on his gambling budget to make sure the agreement is being adhered to.

Good luck,


I appreciate your advice.

I seriously doubt that my husband will ever seek Gamblers Anonymous because he does not wish to quit. Ever.

I tie up as much of his income as I can, but he just borrows money and get more credit cards to fuel his addiction. Of course he lies and hides information from me as much as he can.

I feel helpless. I think the only way I can escape his additiction is through divorce. This is not what I want, but it may be what I need. I left him early in our marriage. He told me he was finished gambling and wanted me to come back. All lies.

Our world is tangled with two children, both of whom will be in college next year. Quite frankly, I'm afraid that as little as he helps financially, it would be worse in the case of divorce. I am also sure he would disappear and my children would never hear from him again.




I am just curious and this may not be an appropriate question; however; why are you keeping your husband around in the first place? It sounds like he isn't involved in the relationship spiritually or financially. Are you afraid to be alone?

Paulie D.