Sorry if this has been done before but wanted to create a thread for those affected by gambling addiction.....I don't mind if this gets zero relies but I hope a few take something from my experiences.
In this age it seems to me everywhere I look, particularly if you are sporting minded you are forever tempted to have a flutter in one format or another, it's something that's always presented as being so glamorous and exciting. I'd like to share my story which is one I'm sure many will relate with which presents the other side of gambling.
I started gambling on a very recreational scale, mainly online around 10 years ago when I started getting a decent wage. It was all very innocent to start with, betting small amounts, normally losing but not thinking much of it. The danger signs should have been evident for me though early on; I struggled to show restraint or discipline in my behaviours when gambling - I remember one instance in particular where I took a small stake of maybe £20 up to well over £1000. Being 18 at the time with no commitments that money would have went a long way but it was lost as quick as it was won.
I then drifted away from it for a few years, some negative experiences and lack of disposable income in those student years meant I kept clear. It was as I went into my mid 20s and starting working full time that temptation presented itself again. Within a short space of time I discovered the FOBTs in the bookies and that casinos were not restricted to Las Vegas - I was hooked.
For at least 5 years all of my extra £ and then some went to gambling. When I wasn't gambling I was thinking of it. When I was I was in a zone, away from whatever I was hiding from. Gambling became a part of me - every occasion or night out or event when I should have been enjoying myself and those around me had to be preceded by a session - if I avoided losing great, I could enjoy myself, if I lost I couldn't. Gambling controlled me. It controlled my mood, my happiness, my motivation, everything revolved around it.
Time after time after time gambling delivered me to the depths of despair. The worst thing about compulsive gambling, like other forms of addiction is the come down afterwards, particularly if you'd lost. The rush, the excitement, the escape is gone and you're back to reality. If I'd lost money, particularly as the years went by when I knew full well I had a big problem I couldn't control the feelings of guilt and shame where crushing.
What in my mind at the time got me on the chair at the casino or the terminal at the bookies generally was the idea of a bit of fun and some extra £ to do something unplanned because miraculously through the years I have maintained a relationship.(in reality I was running away from different things I didn't want to confront.) When afterwards you realise you've lost amount x which could have went towards cause y it's heartbreaking. I struggle to put a figure on how much money I've lost to gambling but can safely say it's north of £25k....amongst that was rent money, mortgage deposit money, my girlfriends hard earned £ and innumerable instances where money lost meant that my girlfriend and those around me lost out on life's experiences.
Of course you don't lose all the time, they need to let us win now and again else no one would play their
game. I've had many 4 figure winnings in my time and I'll be honest the high is exhilarating. However for compulsive gamblers gambling creates a false economy. If you're able to summon the resolve to drag yourself away from gambling and claim some winnings I always did one of 2 things
1 : gamble it all away again very quickly
2 : spend it on sh*t to get rid of it else number 1 will happen
I remember the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend few years ago winning just shy of £5k at a couple of casinos. By the Monday night I'd spent most of it on non-essentials just because of the fear of giving it back to the casino. Hence when you lose you lose when you win you still spunk your £
I knew for many years I had a big problem with gambling but couldn't fully drag myself away from it. Again like in other forms of addiction excuses are made, lies told, sense ignored. For those familiar with GA I went to my first meeting and answered YES to 18 of the 20 questions including YES to the following q
"Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?" but I kept gambling on and off.
I think when it finally comes time to confront addiction the lightbulb moment will be different from person to person. For me it was when I yet again went off the rails with gambling and lost God knows how much £. On this particular occasion I stepped back and asked myself why I did so knowing full well what the outcome would be. In this instance I seen exactly the connection between things in my personal/working life pushing me over the edge with gambling always being my release of choice. Whilst I always knew this in the back of my mind at this point I knew to confront gambling addiction would involve dealing with other daemons and managing the triggers.
As things stand I've not gambled in 2016 and feel strong and all the better for it. It's something I'll be managing the rest of my life, I know it'll never go away for me but if I don't keep it away it will take everything from me.
I hope, if you've made it thus far and in any way can relate with my story, whether you're at the start of the path I started or further down the road than me that you take something from my experiences. If you atall do feel you need help its out there, life doesn't need to revolve around gambling. If you're unsure if you're a problem gambler or not answer the 20 questions - https://www.problemgambling.ca/EN/Documents/GAs%20Twenty%20Questions.pdf
- don't be scared of gambling just be honest with yourself and those around you.