DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were both married previously. We have been together for seven years.
When we first started dating, we would sometimes go to one of the casinos after dinner as a fun outing. We never spent much money and went only occasionally. Our game of choice was the slot machine.
Over the last few years, it seems like the casino has taken over our lives. We go there to the exclusion of almost everything else and spend money we can't afford to lose. We both have the mentality that the "big win" is right around the corner.
How can we break this habit? It's causing unbearable financial and emotional stress in our marriage. I'm afraid it won't last another year. -- IN OVER MY HEAD IN NEW YORK
DEAR IN OVER YOUR HEAD: In case you are not aware, there is a name for the habit you and your husband have acquired. It's "compulsive gambling," and it's an addiction in much the same way as the abuse of alcohol or drugs. Fortunately, you have finally reached a point where you have realized this "fun outing" is out of control.
Gamblers Anonymous can help you break this destructive cycle. It's a 12-step program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Its members support one another by sharing their strength and experiences with one another. The website is www.gamblersanonymous.org.
Many people have experienced what you're going through, and this well-established organization has helped them. To locate a meeting near you, visit the website or check your telephone directory.