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Gambling Addiction/Financial problem by "generous/show off addiction"


Dear Philip Boucher,

It is about my mom. Actually, I am not sure if I am at the right place “gambling addiction” but it is certainly in the section of Mental Heath, and I do consider some similitude with gambling addiction.
Any way, you will understand.

Long time ago, my family was OK, I mean financially speaking, not rich, but in good enough condition. For some reason (bankrupt) we have been in debts which need to be reimbursed. Since this time (maybe 7-10 years, my family has financial problem.
Therefore my father try to recover by running a small enterprise (with old equipment) to get some income and to help to reimburse these debts. It is always my mom who takes care of the financial aspect: collect the income, pay the monthly repayment of the loan (several loans to individual people), take care of the expenditure for the family etc…
However, it has been so difficult to recover and pay back the loan. I used to ask my fiancé about this situation and he used to help by giving money either to support the family, either education of brother, either to pay some expenditure of the enterprise etc…
However, I always hear from my mom, that loan still and remain a lot to be reimbursed.
Recently, in order to run the enterprise of my father (which provide the only income), he has been obliged to borrow from the bank to maintain some machineries. As a guaranty our family house has been mortgaged.
And my mom continues to deal with all of theses loans, expenditure etc…
Two years ago, my mom proposed to my fiancé who has some “saving” to make some credits to some individual people who are in need to borrow money.
The advantage of doing this that the interest rate of the credit is very profitable and in guaranty the borrower need to mortgaged a piece of land which normally the value is bigger than the amount of the credit.   
Again, as my fiancé and I are living abroad, it is my mom who takes care to deal with the borrower, make the contract, receive the monthly interest etc…
However, often, due the financial problem of my family, my mom keeps sometime the monthly interest of my fiancé to reimburse other loan or bank etc…
Later, the credit and interest of my fiancé reach its end, however my mom said to me and to all of us (including (brother, sister and my father) that those people did not pay yet, they are late.

Recently, we discover a big story.
Someone start to claim back his money from my mom, which it was a surprise for all of us (brother, sister and my father) except my mom, as we never knew that we have a loan with this someone.
After she explains that to be able to reimburse the bank or Mr X, she has been obliged to borrow from another one MrY.  But why she never spoke about it ? As she want to keep it as a secret !
After asking her about the several loans in process, her answer is very confusing and moreover the amount is urge!!! That makes all of surprise and worry, as we don’t have the capacity to reimburse such big amount. But it is difficult to understand how it happens.
Therefore I came back home, in order to help and find a solution about money.

Now that I am at home, I discovered that the credit from my fiancé has been already reimbursed, but my mom never said it and opposite, she was saying that they are late for payment. Actually it is a lie and it seems she the money to reimburse other loan.
But how possible after getting back money from the income, from my fiancé, still reaming a lot to be reimburse to other people? It is like the money disappears.  

Last week, we question my mom a lot; she lists the several loans she made, until there is big fighting among us! As soon we might lose our house because the bank will take it if we can’t reimburse etc…
She feel very bad, when she has to admit that she say a lie to the family members about the loan she made, about the money she used from the credit of my fiancé, about the fact that she put the family in a big financial problem, until she even try to kill herself in front of us.
We ask her several times, if she said everything, if she did not keep other things in secret, to be sure we have the full picture about the situation. And she promised, yes that’s all.

However, again 2 days ago, I discovered that she lie to me about another credit of my fiancé, which we thought it is still running, but actually she already got the land which was mortgaged. as the borrower never reimburses it. But she never said it, neither to me nor to my father, and she again mortgaged this new land in order to make another loan.

But where is all the money???

Finally, but it is not completely clear to me, it seems, in order to make the family appearance good to the outside world, to the neighbourhood etc… she keeps make believe anyone that she has money. People therefore, in need of money, come to her to borrow money from her.
And she accepts to loan money to those people. It makes her feel happy to be able to help people in need, to make her generous and make her social statute high.
But actually she don’t have the capacity to make loan, as it not her money, it is just because she manage the cash, as sometime she has cash in hand, but normally this cash should go to family or, to reimburse our own loan, or it is the interest of my fiancé. But as she has this money in hand, she can’t avoid helping another one who is in need of money, as it make her pleasure too even if it makes the family in a big financial trouble.
Moreover, those people as us, can’t reimburse, but she don’t have any guaranty from them… so, it is like we will never get back all those money. So we are now in big shit!

It is why I compare her situation / symptom to gambling addiction, we might say about her “finance help addiction”.
My worries now, it is of course how I am going to solve this financial issue, which I still don’t know.
But  also, I worry about my mom, because now I discovered that she lie to us, all of us, and even if she promise that she will stop, she don’t believe her. We used to say, in the past, if there is a problem of money, do not make credit anymore, speak about it, and let see how we can solve it… but she never did it, until she hide. We can’t trust her, it is like she is crazy about money.
Actually, she is not crazy, but if she has money in hand, she can’t avoid being generous in order to show off. It likes it become a sickness, an addiction.
I already decided to take her away from all the financial issue of the enterprise, I am going to deal with that, collect the income, pay the loan which I can, deal with all financial issue in order to save what we still have. Even to change the name of ownership from her to me and my sister/brother, to avoid she mortgages or sale sometime else !
But how she is going to react?
If she can’t “play” with money anymore, what she will do?
How she will feel? She might fall in depression.
I think she was already in kind of stress/disorder as in one way she making herself happy to be able to help others, and at the same time she was making herself very worried and stressed about how to deal with the financial trouble of family.

So what should we do to protect her? She is my mom; I worry about her health too. My father fed up with all of this, with her, it is the reason long time ago, he did not want to deal with money, and he let her do.
You might suggest going in “group” therapeutic or consulting a psychiatric, but my problem is I am from Laos (Asia), very poor country which the medical system is weak and the psychiatry almost doesn’t exist. And it is not in Asian culture to speak opening about our feeling, problem etc…
Even myself, this year, because of panic stress disorder, I used to consult a psychiatric in Thailand where I am living, I got medication, but I never got any psychotherapy.

So, you could help me, suggest me action to be done in order to help my mom to quit and to avoid that her situation become worse or change to something else.

I am very disparate; I don’t know what to do. Even myself I got now insomnia, I feel very weak thinking about our financial problem as well as my mom. I also worry to fall again in depression or panic disorder.

Please suggest thing for my mom and for me, which could be useful to anyone in my family too.
Looking forward to hearing from you shortly.
Sorry for this so long message. I wanted you to understand my situation.
Best Regards

Delphine, I'm sorry but my expertise is only on addiction to slot machines, nothing else, and your situation is way outside that. The only thing I can suggest to you is to check you local yellow pages for mental health associations that may be able to point you in the right direction in getting help for your mother. Sorry I can't help. Good luck. Phil

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Phillip Boucher


I can answer questions regarding addiction to slot machines, video poker and blackjack machines, and VLT's. I am the author of the book, (writing as Ian B. Williams), "Slot Machines: Fun Machines or Tax Machines? A Technician Reveals the Truth About One-Armed Bandits", ISBN 1-55270-049-6 published by Productive Publications


I have over ten years experience as slot machine technician for two major North American casinos, and have done extensive research into slot machine addiction causes and treatment.

Author of the book, (writing as Ian B. Williams), "Slot Machines: Fun Machines or Tax Machines? A Technician Reveals the Truth About One-Armed Bandits", ISBN 1-55270-049-6 published by Productive Publications.

Certified Gaming Machine Repairperson

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