DEAR ABBY: My mother has a gambling problem. She plays bingo every night. She even took a lower-paying part-time job to devote more time to the game. She's close to retirement and has already gone through her life savings. She now lives off my deceased father's small pension.
I am the oldest of Mom's three sons. She routinely calls each of us to complain that she can't pay her bills. We give her what we can, but it has started causing problems between our spouses and us. We all work hard to support our families. Mother refuses to see how much trouble she's causing everyone.
We have tried talking to her about the gambling. She claims bingo is the only thing in life she enjoys and doesn't think she should have to give it up. What's the solution? -- STRESSED-OUT SON IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR STRESSED-OUT: As with any addiction, your mother cannot be helped unless she admits she has a problem. Under no circumstances should any of you accommodate her requests for money. Encourage her to contact Gamblers Anonymous, P.O. Box 17173, Los Angeles, CA 90017, or call (213) 386-8789. The Web site is www.gamblersanonymous.org.
An alternative would be the National Council on Problem Gambling, a nonprofit organization. It refers gamblers to qualified mental health professionals who have been trained to work with gamblers and their families. The hotline number is 1-800-522-4700; the Web site is www.ncpgambling.org.
The next time your mother asks for money, tell her only if it pays for her therapy.