Today I would like to talk about those times where I have let myself down and “slipped up” with my gambling addiction recovery. I have spoken at length about my struggle with gambling and my path to redemption in previous blogs. However, once the dust on my Gambling Addiction chapter ended 3-4 years ago, I have given into my urges and gambled again and again and again on various occasions. I am not proud of it. I regret every euro I have given to any gambling organisation at the peak of my gambling addiction and after. Today I would like to highlight the struggle a lot of gamblers face after the initial recovery period.
I have spoken about my story of how I got involved with gambling, how I spent thousands of euro gambling online and then with the help from my parents as well as myself I put measures in place to get out of the hole I was in. We have all heard the story, right? (If not, please see my previous blogs on this topic). I thought I was fully cured. I thought I will be damned if I ever put another bet ever again. I didn’t dream of even considering gambling ever again. I felt I was a lot more sensible. Guess what, total bullshit. Not only have I considered gambling since, I even done so several times. The urge was still there. Sure, I walked around professing my hatred for gambling to anyone who would listened to my rants for months. Hardly anybody did. But, I convinced myself I was cured, and I could go back to enjoying football and other sports without chewing my nails to a bleeding point with stress. Months passed by. Hundreds of sports events passed by. I was doing ok. I was in the clear (so I thought). However, just over a year ago I got talked into sticking a bet on some event I can’t even remember. I felt I was in great control of my addiction, so one bet wouldn’t hurt right. Oh-ho-ho how wrong I was. I won that initial bet, something like €30. Free money. Right? I won money out of nothing. Maybe THIS time it is different. SURELY, this time is different. I am older, wiser, experienced etc. all those good things. I thought about it, thought about it some more and then jumped right in.
I set up another gambling account. I restricted my allowed betting limit (see, thinking ahead and preparing myself for the worse). I was being smart, right? It WILL be different this time I was sure of it. I gingerly took the initial steps on my new gambling adventure by only betting on football and on big matches. Then within weeks I was on the highway to gambling addiction again. I began to see exact same patterns, exact same feelings of stress and anxiety, exact same routine etc. I began to hate myself for getting sucked into the whirlpool of gambling AGAIN after everything I went through just couple of years prior. However, it didn’t feel like I was in control, the urge was controlling me, feeding me lies, mis-conception etc. I know what you are thinking.
“Excuses, excuses, you were controlling yourself, so stop talking b*llocks”
and you be right. I was giving into my urge and that was on me. Weeks turned into months and I began to gamble more and more. I wasn’t losing much money. But I was still losing. I was on a slow downward spiral. I knew it, yet I was very slow to do anything about it. I was in denial again. I didn’t want to admit I could be staring into another gambling addiction. Every bet was like a new beginning, THIS time it will be different, THIS time, THIS time etc. Never happened I was just simply becoming a slave to the gambling system. They had me by the balls and I was shedding money just to get the thrill again. I wasn’t quite as far in the hole as I was before, but I was digging at an alarming rate. I had to come to my senses, and eventually I did. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I came to sad yet true realisation that:
“I will never be 100% cured from gambling addiction”
Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s not me throwing in the towel in the middle of the fight. This is just me respecting the addiction. I know its tricks, its perks, its potential, its thrill, I am simply recognising that it can pull me in anytime it wants if I am not careful. The trick is to ALWAYS no matter what, have your guard up against the addiction. Shortly after I realised this I began to take some action. I now knew that I was fighting a bigger beast inside me than I ever knew existed. I needed a different plan. Simply telling myself “I am cured, gambling is for losers, gambling is this, gambling is that”. I needed behaviour and attitude re-wiring. It is up to me. It is my future, my life, my money and my ego on the line. I need to balance it all. I needed to cut this poison out of my system.
Below are some of the ways I deal with gambling now:
- 100% ignore any promotions on TV, streets, word of mouth etc. that would entice me to stick on a bet.
- Refuse to bet even a euro. One bet could be the start of it all again.
- Have banned myself from all the main betting apps for life.
- Write these blogs and feed off your support.
- Share my story and experience with others in a hope that I can help them, and they can help me.
- Told my partner that to NEVER allow me even consider betting (she would kick my ass so hard if I did, that I would prefer not to find out how it feels)
- Study other gamblers behaviour & read/research gambling addiction
- Understand the addiction
- Plan to set up a gambling addiction help center that would help others and help me as a result too.
In my life I see gambling as the route of all evil. I would like to think that I am 99% cured. However, there is that 1% chance. I personally doubt very much that I would ever gamble again. I am way to smart and experienced for that, BUT that’s what I thought the last time. Therefore, I want to help others, I know how it feels, I know the urge, the struggles, the self-pity and the agony of going through it once, twice, three times etc. It is a horrible experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
I just want to share this aspect of gambling recovery to highlight the need for anyone affected with gambling to keep your guard up. The addiction just doesn’t go away, it is just left dormant. I don’t want to blow smoke up anybody’s ass and say that I am great and mighty gambling addiction overcomer and what I say is gospel. Far from it. I am learning every day, I am developing an understanding of the addiction. It can strike at anytime and it needs to be taken care off every day. I don’t have urges to gamble now, and haven’t had them for months, however, there is still that 1% chance. If you or someone close to you have/had problem with gambling the only odds they need is 1/100. 1 chance, and you get hooked again. That 1% will never leave you. It will always be hanging over your head no matter how smart you think you are. If you want to live gamble free life, tell everyone close to you about it. They will keep you on straight and narrow road to recovery and keep you there. I don’t think we as people in this country understand the fundamental principles of this addiction just yet. We think we can cure, we think we can help others, but all we are doing most of the time is just helping to bury it deep for a period of time. A lot of the times it will rear its ugly head again. Gambling addiction needs to be respected and understood. No point fooling yourself like I did. I understand the addiction more than ever, primarily because have experience in it, however, I just hope I am getting my points across in this blog to fend off anyone who is even considering gambling, help others who are going through gambling addiction and support those who have recovered from gambling addiction. I have been thinking a lot about how can a 7/10/12 step program can be created to help others with their addiction, however, I must first 100% understand the ins and outs of the addiction. You can’t cure what you can’t understand and I am planning to fully understand it however long that takes.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of Gambling & Me. I just want to be 100% honest with you readers and want to highlight some of the pitfalls that may arise for someone who is dealing with gambling addiction. We all need support, love and care and a gambling addict is no different. Whether you are old, you, poor, rich, male or female, you can get sucked into gambling again and again if you are not careful. As always please leave a comment, feedback or opinion below. I welcome all kinds of comments and if anybody wishes to share their story, their lessons that they have learned through gambling it will help us all including me. We are all on this journey together. Let’s get rid of this poison one blog at the time.
Thanks again and talk to you guys on the next one.