Interview with Justyn Larcombe


Friends and family are often key to encourage loved ones with gambling problems to seek help. I was lucky to have my fiancé, who was pushing me to seek professional help. She didn’t give up on me (yet), and she wanted to know everything about the addiction, that was destroying our relationship.

After trying to learn all she could about the gambling, she discovered that there is not much support nor articles she could find for addict’s partners and their psychological and emotional health. In this difficult period, she contacted many psychologists, because she didn’t know a thing about problem gambling. She wanted to hear from many doctors what their views on this disease was, so that she could form hers. They all gave her different advices. Some said that she should leave straight away, while others told her that she shouldn’t rush with her decision. Advice she appreciated the most was that it wasn’t her fault, as partners often feel guilty and think that they did something wrong.

One day, after coming home from work, she told me to check a TED talk she found helpful. It was “The fall and rise of a gambling addict” by Justyn Rees Larcombe. It’s a story about ex-military Major that gambled his money and savings.

 A good TED talk does more than just inspires you – it changes the way you see the world, or challenges you are facing. That was exactly what I experienced. It made a huge impact on me, because for the first time, I felt relieved. I wasn’t the only one with this problem, I’m not alone.

For my biggest surprise, my fiancé bought me a book Justyn wrote “Tails I Lose”. She knew I couldn’t afford it and how much just a short TED talk meant to me. It was the most precious gift I have ever received, because I realized she gave me the second chance and really wants to see me getting better.

What an inspiration the book was. I realized there is always a way out, no matter how bad the problems might seem. However, after reading the book, I still had a few questions and decided to reach out to Justyn. To my surprise, he replied straight away with equally inspiring advices:

How did you manage to win back your partner’s trust? Looking from this perspective, what would you advice compulsive gamblers who are still hiding from their partners their addiction? When and how to face their partners with the truth? 

Justyn: One thing I always say is that it is so much better to tell your partner than for them to find out, but choose a time when you have taken some steps on the road to recovery so you can talk about the issue with some good news.Even if it’s just to say ‘this is what happened, but now I have self excluded’ or ‘now I have stopped and am going to a meeting’.Trust is so preciousand if you tell them there is a chance to keep it, if they find out, it may never come back. There are no easy solutions to life. Someone once said to me that for as long as you lied to your partner, expect them not to believe you for the same time after you stop lying. It will hurt when they question you when you are telling the truth, you will be surprised because you never even thought to lie. So give them time – even if it takes a few years.

Winning back trust takes time, be patient, look for opportunities to win it back and if the love is still there, the trust will follow in time. You have to work a bit harder to  make sure you follow through with everything you say, even if its just turning up at the time you said you would and don’t be surprised if they question you more frequently. Maybe share your finances a bit more and don’t have separate accounts or lines of credit.

Winning back trust takes time, be patient, look for opportunities to win it back and if the love is still there, the trust will follow in time. You have to work a bit harder to make sure you follow through with everything you say, even if it’s just turning up at the time you said you would and don’t be surprised if they question you more frequently. Maybe share your finances a bit more and don’t have separate accounts or lines of credit.

In the UK, 1 in 10 suicides is related to problem gambling and a problem gambler is 15 times more at risk from suicide than non gamblers. It is the shame that drives this statistic. I think it helped me to be honest and to realize I wasn’t the only one. So meeting and talking to others in a similar position – or connecting via a blog will really help!

Justyn is the CEO of “Recovery Two” charity that is helping others to cope with gambling addiction.

Justyn: “Recovery Two” offers recovery courses to all addicts and one of the key things we noted, as you so rightly point out, is the lack of support for those impacted by the addiction of a loved one. The focus always seems to be on the addict, there should be more support for family. Gambling addiction has a particular impact on family members because of the debt it causes. So we run a family support group which has been a great help to many.

In case you need support or would like to learn more about gambling addiction, here is the link of  Justyn’s “Charity Two” where you can find needed information.

If you would like to watch a TED talk I mentioned, here is the link:
“The fall and rise of a gambling addict” by Justyn Rees Larcombe.

If you would like to read Justyn’s book, you can purchase it here:
“Tails I Lose”

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