I remember it well. That December day I became a problem gambler. I'd been playing online poker for a while without much of a problem. Then for whatever reason I thought I'd give online blackjack a go. What a rush! Why had I been wasting my time playing slow games of poker when these cards flashed so quickly on the screen and I could make what seemed like a small fortune in a matter of minutes. All this excitement with "zero house edge". I couldn't lose! But then I started losing. Losing, but for some reason I couldn't pull away. It would change, I'd start winning again. I just needed to ride this wave of losses, then my luck would return!
After losing several hundred pounds I got a message from my friend I'd planned to meet that night. The girl I had a big crush on at school who I hadn't seen for many years - we'd arranged to catch up as we'd been messaging and we were both back in my home town for Christmas. I decided to go out an see her, what a disaster that day had been so far! Time to go out and enjoy myself. But my head was spinning, I felt like I'd just been on a three day drug binge. As she pulled in to kiss me, something I'd been dreaming about just a day before, I just couldn't enjoy it. All that was going through my head was all the money I'd just lost. And what I could do to get it back! Sadly, this was just the beginning.
It's now been 7 years without gambling in any way. More than that, I don't even think about gambling any more. I've been reflecting recently on some of the things I've gone through in my life, and started remembering those dark days. It seems surreal now that my life was once dominated by a gambling addiction, and unfortunately there are others out there going through what I once was. So I thought it was finally time to share my story, hopefully to inspire some of you and provide myself some cathartic closure on a truly dark period of my life.
It all started back in 2008. I'd started my first "proper" job in London after graduating from university. But I quickly became disillusioned by the world I'd entered. I needed to escape, but I needed money to escape. For whatever reason, which I can't even begin to understand anymore, online gambling seemed the solution. It quickly descended into a life of mounting debt, relying on payday loans to buy food as of course my salary would go straight to the online gambling companies. Possibly even worse than the money was the time I was wasting. I was young, just moved to London, with my whole life ahead of me. I should've been enjoying myself instead of in a hole of self loathing.
After over a year in this deep whole, I met an amazing girl who started to change my life. The gambling was reducing, and then we made the decision to move in together. I found a much better job, earning more money, and finally the gambling stopped. I was paying off the gambling debt each month, which then even started turning into saving money each month. I still had urges to gamble, but my life had become much more content and focused on my new job and girlfriend. I really do think now that meeting her was the catalyst for this change.
After suffering some unfortunate health issues my girlfriend needed to return to living in Spain. I decided I'd continue working in my job for 6 months or so, save up some money, and then start a new life with her in Spain. It was going fine, until one month before I was planning on leaving the country. I had that thought. "I'm no longer addicted to gambling, so why not have a little fun". But, no, the monster had reawakened! And he was angrier than ever! Over the next few days I couldn't stop, and somehow lost all of my £10k I'd saved up to start my new life. How could I do this? Betray the girl who'd saved me in such a pointless, self destructive way? I'll never fully understand how anybody could have the capacity to destroy themselves like that, but I know this was the lowest I'd ever felt.
But still I couldn't stop. A man who's lost it all has nothing left to lose, right? Somehow I then went on a winning streak and won back half of the money. And then, for the first time ever, instead of chasing the rest of my losses, I stopped. I had £5k in the bank. It was enough to start a new life. A gift. A second chance. A gift and second chance I definitely didn't deserve, but a gift my girlfriend definitely did deserve. So I promised myself I could never ever go back to the feeling I experienced those past few days. I moved to Spain the next month to start a new chapter in my life.
I had a small relapse around a year later, where I lost maybe £100 in an hour after being enticed by a juicy bonus offered by an online casino. I was a little frustrated with myself, but then I quickly realised I was the victim here. I saw it as an important lesson to never give in to any temptation of any kind again. This was the very last time I gambled in any way - 7 years ago now. I instead put all that energy I'd been wasting on pointlessly losing money into more productive things. I decided to study a masters degree and took up all kinds of new hobbies. And now in a few months time I will finish my PhD and hopefully start a new chapter in my life again.
I don't think I'll ever fully understand my gambling addiction. It's clear to me now that came from some deep dissatisfaction in my life, which then became a downward spiral. But it is possible to reverse this. And step by step I got there. Hopefully sharing my story can show those going through the same that it is possible to beat this. That feeling of disgust as I blew away all my savings will always be with me. But that memory will ensure I never go back!
Hugs to all of you!
Wow! 7 years amazing! That was a very inspiring post, I’m nearly 60 days in and I cannot believe how much my life is changing but more importantly how much the addiction changed me, my personality and motivation & kept me stuck in this horrible state of fear, panic, self loathing & hatred for what I was becoming! I’m quite a rational person but this just sucked me in and held me down.
I am now motivated to studying and starting a career and moving on, it will always be something I have to remind myself of but living knowing I’m doing so in an honest and positive way is amazing! Just working on my relationship with my husband of 15 years that is the hardest thing just knowing I let him down but onwards and upwards as they say!
What a success story, you should be proud off yourself your living the dream we all want to enter, what got me was the point you relapsed losing £100 but left it there and never chased it, amazing my friend hope you continue with the life you deserve plus I hope to meet you at that 7yrs stage one day but many thanks for sharing your an inspirational person