Hello, I have been to this site a few times and I felt that if I put up my story it would help me, as well as others, who could potentially use the strategies I used to combat the temptation to gamble. So here goes, I am 25 and female. What you are about to read is entirely true. I may have eliminated some details primarily to keep mine and others’ identities concealed.
Lets start at the very beginning. The first time I went to a casino, I had no idea what it was all about. I wasn’t a big risk taker and did not believe in things like luck or throwing your money out the window. I did however, looking back realize that I did like the sound of coins falling into the tray when you would win (this is back when they had coin machines). I would occasionally go to the casino some nights to people watch and always felt so sad for people at the tables. Everyone looked so hopeless, as I now recall. I have always had addiction problems; in one form or another but I previously never understood how someone could be addicted to gambling, it didn’t make any sense to me. I was about to find out. It all started with me going to a casino one night with a date a couple of years ago. I didn’t know how to play any of the games so I just watched like I previously had in the past. Then for some reason I went there again with another date a few weeks later. I think I might have won a little bit of money at the time. I found myself trying to convince friends to go with me, at first they would indulge me but then they would decline over time. I really didn’t like the idea of going by myself but I finally convinced myself to go alone- and that was it, I think at one point I was at the casino every night of the week. I didn’t know how to play any of the table games and to my surprise I found that everybody was willing to help you out- the other players, dealers etc. So I learned in no time. I was there every night of the week. Soon I knew everybody’s name and felt pretty important being there. Everybody treated me like I was some kind of big shot. I could be anybody I wanted to be. I was a different person every time and had a different job and felt respected and important. I actually managed to make a little money every time and I felt like I could now afford the things I want like expensive makeup or nice clothes but I always saved enough to go back. Soon, I was a high roller. I spent all my student loans in the casino so I turned to my immediate family. They were ok with it for a while but then they refused any more money and wanted to know what happened to the money that they sent a few days ago. Then I turned to my extended family and that went on for a while but I always had feelings of guilt and shame doing that. Every time I would go to the casino I would feel a sense of guilt and shame that I was conning and lying to my family to support my addiction. But since being very lonely, it felt good to know that there was a place that people knew my name and were nice to me. Every time I felt upset or depressed or frustrated I would head down to the casino, in hopes of feeling better being around all that excitement. Some nights I would win and other nights I wouldn’t. So my money situation was getting bad, so I started taking cash advances on credit cards and borrowing from friends. Then when that avenue was exhausted, I did some things I am not wanting to remember or talk about. I tried to convince myself that it was about a sense of empowerment and all that but I knew deep down inside it didn’t feel very good. So I continued doing things to support my habit never once thinking to save a little bit of money for phone bill or groceries. I did realise that I had a gambling problem by now, and I would often convince myself that I would ‘set a limit and play within it!’ but I would constantly find myself going back to the ATM and pulling money out of every account and credit card so I could play for an additional few minutes. Some nights I would go home not having anything to eat all day, exhausted and broke. In the midst of all this something brilliant happened- I won a large sum of money! I did! It was unreal! It was almost like God’s way of saying ‘you keep saying you will be done if you win big so here you go, heres your chance to quit!’ But unfortunately I didn’t quit! It was a lot of money but it was all gone in a matter of days. My logic was, if I won it once then I can do it again and I am on roll and nothing can stop me now. I have nothing to show for it now. Not a single dime. The bets kept getting bigger and the money kept decreasing until it was all gone. I didn’t even stop when I realized I was so close to the end. And it just kept getting worse after that, I would convince myself that I still have my health and I can always work extra hard to make up for what I lost. I read about GA and resources and self- exclusion programs but I could never bring myself to do it. I found myself lying to everyone around me so I could go to the casino. My school work suffered and so did my relationships. It actually got to a point that I would go through spare change to take to the casino so I could get maybe 10 or 20 dollars so I could gamble with. There were several nights that I would go hungry just to be able to go gambling later. Then I decided to try and regain some control over my life, and I was consciously trying but I would find myself in moments of weakness to go back again. Then somebody really wise and close to me who knew about this problem said something that was like an epiphany, a light bulb over my head, a moment of truth. That person said, look at it this way, what is the probability of you walking in with a lot of cash and walking out with 1/10 of it and what is the probability of you walking in win 1/10 of cash and walking out with a whole lot more? I thought about it and it made perfect sense! It just did! I thought of all the times that I went hungry and broke and the times I walked out of the casino with absolutely nothing compared to times that I walked out with some money- but it didn’t matter because I was always going to go back and lose it anyways! I tried. I resisted. I would get tempted every once in a while. I would give in to temptation every now and then and would hate myself for it later. I wanted to test myself to see if I could play within a limit but I couldn’t. So I haven’t been back in a few months now, and I know what you’re thinking, its too soon to say you’re done with it but everyday is an accomplishment for me the way I see it. I try to keep busy doing things that don’t require money but can keep me engaged. I always find something on TV or the internet to keep me busy. Funny, I don’t even think of gambling anymore. I look around at all the things I have to do, buy and people to pay back that I cant think of wasting money anywhere. I just try to keep myself focused and try to keep busy. Initially when I would think about going back I would just say, what’s the point? You are eventually going to lose it all! which was true for me. As I said, it dosen’t even cross my mind anymore. I don’t miss it or any aspect of it. In the course of the few years that I did have my addiction with gambling, I am now between 65-75k or maybe more in debt. Yes that is right! I could’ve done a lot of good things with that money but I try not to think of that. I guess I really don’t have any advice for anyone but if you really want to quit, then set your mind to it and figure out a way. Its different for everybody. You just have to come to a point when you begin to realize that its very destructive if not kept in check. I hope I have been able to help in a little way on your journey to recovery. I hope that someday you can look back and have your story told as an inspiration to others. Thanks, Sally