Gam-Amon is a Blessing to Me

by Beth E.

I began attending Gam-Anon about 2 1/2 years ago; just a few days after my dad admitted to having a gambling problem. We were in emotional chaos, and the understanding and love I found in Gam-Anon has impacted my life so positively. I am thankful that my dad attends a simultaneous GA meeting.

We work our program. We discuss The 12 Steps in detail. We give feedback based on experience and out of genuine concern. I have heard Gam-Anon criticized for promoting detachment in regard to the gambler, and for discouraging members from seeking professional help. That has not been the case in my Gam-Anon experience.

If anything, I am learning healthy attachment. This may be easier than would be the case if I was married to my gambler, but Gam-Anon is helping me to find my voice, to discuss difficult matters, to take the reins in regard to my dad's finances. All this is happening in large part, because of what I am learning at my meetings, and because of the help of The Pressure Relief Meeting, something we would not have known about without GA and Gam-Anon. I am finding that although it is not always comfortable, my dad and I can have a more honest and open relationship than we have ever had before.

I understand that Gam-Anon does not endorse outside programs. I have learned a great deal, however, about other resources through my GA
and Gam-Anon connections. I have never been discouraged from seeking professional therapy, quite the contrary. Yes, during our meetings, we try to keep the focus on our program, and honestly, it is so refreshing and positive. I can always use that! Conversations outside of our meeting time have also proven to be extremely helpful in learning about other resources that are available to my dad and to me. Again, I have often been encouraged to seek additional resources for help.

I would like to mention one special aspect of our meetings that may not be found everywhere. There is a very genuine love between our GA and Gam-Anon members. Without breaching confidences, we are keenly aware of each others' struggles. I appreciate the way that other GA and Gam-Anon members show love to my dad, to me, to my whole family. We take time to celebrate pinnings and birthdays together, we often have lunch together and all are invited to socialize together at other times as well. That healthy relationship between our GA and Gam-Anon members happens, in part, because we are all working on that healthy attachment in our personal relationships, and because we realize that we are ALL imperfect, broken people, who can offer help to each other.

Thanks for taking time to read my story. I pray that God will lead and guide you, and your loved ones to all of the good things He has for you.

Comments for Gam-Amon is a Blessing to Me

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Sep 23, 2021
Hindsight NEW
by: Mark

Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts! I know it's super difficult, but please try not to be too hard on yourself.

In the moment when your loved one is in the throws of their addiction, and you're being gaslighted constantly, it's super hard to see things clearly. You're constantly second guessing yourself, thinking that you're at least one source of the problem, or somehow if you do the right thing that everything will be OK and work out. Unfortunately, that's generally just not the case.

We think we're seeing things clearly, and with an objective and thoughtful/logical mind, however, the harsh reality is that we're simply not.

I've NEVER had problems with headaches let alone migraines, however, I recall having such massive migraines that I couldn't physically move until it passed. I didn't realize until later that it was the severe stress that caused this. Definitely made me appreciate the suffering people with chronic migraines endure!

In terms of debtors, I know the gambler is supposed to take care of these issues for themselves, however, if you can encourage them to call the credit card company (or whatever loan or collections institution they're tangled up in), you can usually negotiate a settlement for a fraction of the total. I would start at 10% of the total balance at the MOST, and perhaps work your way up to 20%. These collections agencies consider that a success, and never have any expectation of collecting the whole thing. If you can make that negotiated payment in a lump sum, you're likely to get agreement on a lower amount, however, if you're not able to do that, they'll usually accept a payment plan, but the overall total will likely be larger.

Note that discontinuing making any minimum payments may actually help you to negotiate. And I'm no expert, however, if you need to take that phone call on their behalf, it could help as the collections agent may be less hostile, and more likely to negotiate with you, and believe that your offer is truly what you can afford and that you will follow thru on it.

It definitely is helpful to be able to talk with people who understand what you're going thru. I'm convinced that no matter how close you are with family and friends, if they've never experienced this issue personally, they'll just truly never be able to understand what it's like for you.

So whether it's Gam-Anon, forums like this, or even a therapist, it's definitely helpful; at least in my opinion.

It's such a huge relief when things settle down, whether because they get therapy, join GA, or go into remission. That said, even once you deal with any immediate financial hardships they caused, there's still going to be ongoing challenges.

The reality is that the addiction never goes away. Even if they're abstinent for a decade or even two decades, they could relapse at any moment.

And when they get frustrated that they've been cut off from their finances, or feel a loss of control over their finances in general, they'll lash out at you, stating that they haven't gambled in years or even decades. However, protecting your family will always be something on your mind.

Unfortunately, if/when they do relapse, studies have shown that it's progressive and almost always is worse on each relapse. i.e. Bigger losses, bigger lies, and greater financial hardship.

Please take care, and be kind to yourself as you navigate difficult times!

Sep 18, 2021
Thanks for this site!! NEW
by: Anonymous

I am one whose life has been negatively impacted since childhood by others' gambling addictions. None of the gambling addicts have ever apologized, done anything to take responsibility, etc. When I hear or read that gambling addicts experience shame and remorse, I think they're lying. So far, I don't think I have ever witnessed as much.

In childhood, my family's safety was destroyed by a relative's HUGE debt and it seemed to occur suddenly. Then I worked with active gambling addicts without knowing it. One addict has been living this way for longer than 15 years, lost enough money to cause debt collectors to harass me at home, follow me to my car after work and pestered me while working. Now, in hindsight, it seems that when the gambling addict made the minimum payments, the debt collectors magically disappeared. When he failed to make his minimum payments, the bizarre events resumed.

After too long, I figured out what was happening. Now I feel SO stupid! The gaslighting was intense and chronic. Fortunately, I discovered Gam-Anon two months ago and my life is improving daily.

Thank you all for participating in this program. My serenity seemingly depends on having others to communicate with about what it is like to live and work with pathological liars, their strange sports obsessions, talk of casinos and of unrealistic plans for when "The Big Win" happens.

May 10, 2017
Fantastic! NEW
by: Mark

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences Beth; it's much appreciated! That's fantastic that you've had such a great experience with GA.

It seems as though each GA group can have its own unique culture despite all sharing the same overarching principles.

It truly is great to hear that your group encourages outside resources. In my opinion, why should anyone close their mind to any information or techniques that could possible be helpful!

It's all about getting educated, and surrounding yourself with the support you need to aid in your own recovery, as well as that of your gambler.

All the best, and please circle back to share more as your story evolves!

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