Today marks a year free of gambling.
I have had bouts of heavy gambling since I was a teenager but I was always able to get my addiction under control. But in 2013 I lost control completely and within a year I had gambled every penny I had and started to hit loans and credit cards hard. I built up 10’s of thousands of £ in debt in a matter of months. But it didn’t stop there. I was in free fall and when I couldn’t get any more credit I sold nearly everything I owned to gamble. I was at the lowest point of my life and I couldn’t see a way out. I was ready to throw in the towel.
No one knew about my situation - I was a master of deceit. But I was hurting so bad inside. I couldn’t keep it in any more and phoned my brother one Sunday morning after a heavy night of gambling. He was hugely supportive but also very tough with me. He made a list of things to do and made me take the first steps like contact a debt charity, contact a compulsive gambling organisation, get counselling, write to all my debtors, close all my gambling sites and exclude from betting shops, casinos and online sites. It was tough and I strongly resented him for it, but I did it and slowly I started to get back control. It was great at first, I was starting to beat this. But after a few months I would fall back into gambling. It was a never ending roller coaster. I was back into deceit mode - no one knew. But I knew, and I knew it had to stop for good or I was heading for the end. I called my brother again and this time I told him I had only gone so far in controlling my gambling but couldn’t stop fully so asked him to take control of my finances for a year - he was angry with me but agreed. I had no access to funds except through him. It was so hard for me but equally, if not more so, for him, but he did it and over that year I got more counselling and read more books and thought really hard about my life and what I wanted to do with the rest of it. I was on this site a lot. Slowly it started to work and by the end of the year I had not gambled and my debts, which were reducing since 2014 were really starting to come down.
I was feeling in control again and a lot stronger. I took back control of my finances and within 4 months I had started gambling again. Yes, back to it after all that time. But this time it was different somehow, it was small amounts and infrequently, but it was back. I knew it would only get worse. So last year I committed to give up for good on my own and now I have completed a year.
I have mixed feelings about it- I have been here before so this milestone is just another period of time I have resisted gambling - I want to continue to keep gambling free but I know my compulsive urge is still there so I can’t say this milestone is a turning point for me. It is more of another step in the right direction and I hope to continue to keep away from gambling - a challenging thing to do as it is everywhere you look or click now. I am not complacent, I know that milestones like this can in themselves be a trigger to gamble so I am levelheaded about my achievement. I am very pleased to have got this far but am ever watchful that I don’t become over confident. I have learned many lessons over the past 7 years and learned a lot about myself too. I am now gambling free, have retained a good job, have repaid all my huge debts and am building up my savings. I am able to find time for and afford the good things of life (although much is on hold during the lockdown/pandemic). I can look forward to 2021 with optimism and options that were never possible when I gambled.
I wanted to post this to show that wrestling free of gambling is not a linear process, it is not easy, it will hurt, it is better done with the support of loved ones and true professionals and your gambling support networks. But it can be done.
And falling off the waggon is not defeat but a reminder of the need to keep alert to your compulsive gambling nature and understand you can get back on the same waggon and do better next time.
As we know, if you gamble, you lose much more than money, you lose yourself. But if you stop, then over time, you build a better self and gain a richer, better life and you can again experience all the challenges and pleasures that it brings - isn’t that what we want! I do.
Well done mate.....I am another 'you' and completely understand everything that you have said. What I have done is when I know the self-exclusions and bans are coming to an end in, say, 3 months from now, I redo them all again for the maximum period before I get the chance to nip back in and start again. Like you, I love it but like you, I know I am weak and a small slip and I'll will be back there in that hell hole of pleasure and utter despair. I don't trust myself as there are so many opportunities and one of them will snare me again if I am not completely aware.
Good luck and stay strong.