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Almost a year on

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#1 Posted on:
Wed, 26/07/2017 - 13:32

staying_aware17

Joined:
2017-07-26

 I’m a 31 year old male and I am a compulsive gambler. Almost a year on since I sought help with my addiction, I thought I would take the time to tell my story and reflect on the progress that I have made.

My addiction first started when I was 20 years old. Poker became hugely popular at this time and I enjoyed playing with friends at weekends and playing in the odd tournament at the local pubs. I decided to open an online account with *** and before long I started to play the online slots and became hooked. Around the age of 23, I was getting into debt and couldn’t pay off my overdraft. I confessed to my parents and they agreed to bail me out. At the time, I thought that stopping and sorting out the financial situation was enough to take control of the problem however it was only a few years later when the same happened again. This time, I started to understand that I had a problem but again I was bailed out, said all the right things to my parents, stopped gambling and thought that was enough. How wrong could I be? I managed to have a few years off but inevitably found a way back to online gambling and the problem started again. This time the problem became much worse. I became more adept at accessing funds and consequently even better at keeping it hidden from my girlfriend and family. My career was also progressing nicely and I had bought a new house which meant that juggling my responsibilities with a secret addiction became mentally exhausting. This time I knew I had a problem and I wanted help however having being bailed out twice before by my parents and with my gf being completely unaware I had a problem, I knew that confessing this time could have huge consequences for myself. More time passed by as the shame, guilt and the debt began to grow until finally I plucked up the courage to confess. I was in a pretty dark place mentally so I wrote a letter to my girlfriend in case I was unable to get the words out face to face and prepared myself for the possibility of her leaving me and having to sell the beautiful house we were living in together. After picking my girlfriend up from work, although it was incredibly hard I managed to get the words out and confess and we also visited my parents the same night. Luckily, they have all been incredibly supportive and have helped me make positive steps towards managing my addiction. At the same time, they were extremely disappointed and upset and the first few weeks were difficult. Unfortunately having an addiction which creates significant financial debt will ultimately put strain on your relationships with loved ones as you make certain sacrifices to get back on the right path. Those are the consequences you have to accept and deal with and it is important to have those reminders as you find motivation to manage your addiction.

Managing my addiction

I use the word ‘manage’ as it is important to understand that a gambling addiction cannot be cured. I learnt the hard way by foolishly believing that taking a break from gambling to sort out my finances would work. The difference back then was that I didn’t actually believe I had a problem and I didn’t want to stop gambling. The only reason I stopped was because I had to until I was ok financially. This time round, I wanted to stop for the sake of my future, my wellbeing and because I knew it would impact negatively on the people close to me. Over the past year, I have started to make peace with the fact that I have a life-long problem and that I simply cannot gamble in any way, shape or form again. To most compulsive gamblers, this is not something you want to admit or want to think about however if I compare my mental state of mind from when I was gambling to now, it seems a small price to pay.

The only thing I regret is not seeking help sooner and I know my parents feel guilty that they didn’t force me to seek help in the past. I think the main problem is that because gambling addiction can be hidden and the effects cannot be physically seen like with other addictions such as alcohol and drugs, people are uneducated as to how serious it actually is.

This is why I would urge anybody with a problem to seek some form of counselling where you can speak to somebody, get it off your chest and lay it all out on the table. Yes, it is good to talk to family and loved ones, however those conversations will always be ruled by the judging factor of why? And ‘it just doesn’t make sense’. To anyone without the problem,  it is completely understandable for them to ask this question however you know that if you could answer that yourself, then you probably wouldn’t have gambled in the first place! I’m quite an introverted person and I’ve always been reluctant to talk about myself however when I spoke to Lynda I surprised myself with just how comfortable I felt and how much I had to say. It felt like such a relief to talk about my problem and felt like my mind had been set free. I’ve started to understand myself better as a person and I understand the triggers that could lead to me gambling again. During my sessions, we talked about putting things in place to help manage my addiction in the future and keeping myself aware that the problem will always be there. I liked the fact that the sessions are not too structured, everybody’s problem is different and therefore the conversation and advice will naturally take the direction that works best for you.

I’m in a good place right now thanks to both the support I have received from loved ones and gamcare. I know this is quite long so if you have taken time to read this, thanks and I hope my story and advice can be of help to those that are seeking support and guidance with gambling addiction.

 

Posted on:
Wed, 26/07/2017 - 20:27

Forum admin

Joined:
2010-11-01

Hello staying_aware17

Welcome to the forum it is good to hear you have had a positive experience with your counselling sessions and that you have felt supported by gamcare. It’s great to hear that you are in a good place right now and thank you for sharing your story.

Keep posting we are here to support you

Forum admin      

Posted on:
Thu, 27/07/2017 - 07:54

ODAAT

Joined:
2014-11-10

Hi staying aware, good on you :-)

Be good to see you stick around the forum & keep us updated on your journey - ODAAT 

Posted on:
Wed, 06/09/2017 - 16:29

mrhonest

Joined:
2017-08-22

A great read, particuarly when I see so many similarities in what you and I have experienced.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted on:
Tue, 10/10/2017 - 06:52

florencewillburn

Joined:
2017-10-10

This life experience will be a great motivation for most of the readers. Experience teach us so many valuable things in life. Be confident and ready to accept any risks in life. 

Posted on:
Fri, 10/11/2017 - 19:32

Musttryharder

Joined:
2016-12-13

Similar to my own story in many ways.
Enjoy your life, look after your partner and family.
If you concentrate on that, there is no need to gamble
Good luck in the future