A friend of mine who is a great high school basketball coach once told me “The best you can have happen in a game is to have the other team’s worse shooter make his first shot – very similar to the confidence you feel with a gambling addiction MEGAGAME. They will think they are a good shot and keep throwing upshots and missing them. But they keep shooting because they made the first one.” This same attitude got me addicted to gambling. The thought that what happened once, by pure luck, was going to keep happening and I could control it. Instead of walking away and being content with a little good fortune, I stuck around long enough to prove his statement true, not for basketball, but gambling.
I got into gambling which resulted in my gambling addiction the same way people get into it. My friends and I would play cards when we were in high school for a few dollars. The feel of winning, even back then was a rush. That feels better than any drug. Other people may get this feeling through exercise, the runner’s high, or closing a big deal at work. The difference between their feeling and the one I got was the high, or sense of accomplishment. The difference between myself and the friends, I play cards for entertainment and fun. They may have had that same feeling I did, but they didn’t let the feeling overtake their mind and way of life. They, like most people, realized if they won, they were lucky. Sure there is a tactics, but in gambling, it is better to be lucky than good.
I have been gambling, with a gambling addiction, and going to casinos since I was eighteen years old. Back then, you only had to be eighteen to gamble at casinos. Back then I would take the money I got from working around the house or a part-time job and I would head down to the casino on Friday night after school. What I won or lost would dictate how the whole next week would go until I receive payment. If I won, that next week was fun. Most of the times though I am scrambling for extra work for money or borrowing from friends. I wish I could look back and laugh and say man I was just young and stupid. The problem is it got a whole lot worse and the thinking did not change. Feast or famine was the way I lived my life.
A. Thomas Horvath, Ph.D., is president of Practical Recovery Services, San Diego, California, which offers an alternative to 12-step and disease-oriented addiction treatment. He is president of SMART Recovery, a non-profit network of support groups for individuals abstaining from addictive behavior. From 1999-2000 he served as president of the American Psychological Associations Division on Addictions (Division 50). Author A. Thomas Horvath Studio Impact Publishers, Incorporated Format Book
I gambled throughout my twenties ( not realizing I had a gambling addiction) and early thirties with few major problems. I would win a little here and there, but I never had a big payday. Then two years ago I walked into the casino with forty dollars and walked out with one thousand five hundred. The following ten months were the most self-destructive ten months of my life. The bigger problem was in this time how many people I lied, blamed, and would not listen to. In the end I lost a ridiculous amount of money; but what was worse I lost the trust of everyone in my life. Some have started to forgive me, but others never will. I would not blame them. I still don’t trust myself.
After that first big “payday”, I gambled more in the next ten months than I had ever done before. I would estimate I gambled two hundred and seventy out of the three hundred days that this all took place in. The only reason I took those other thirty days off was I was flat broke – classic gambling addiction.. During this stretch of time, I won much money. The problem was, among many problems, I am never content with what I was lucky enough to win. If I won five hundred, I would lose it trying to win a thousand. I had Friday nights where I would win eight thousand dollars. By Sunday , when I would leave, it was all gone. It didn’t matter how much I would be ahead, in the end, the casinos and I both knew I was walking away down. The last few months I was so bad I would not even get the rush, or high, from winning. I knew I was going to lose it eventually. It stopped becoming fun and a game, it became my life.
I wish I could say the money lose was the worse part of my gambling addiction. But everything else that came with it was far worse. See during this time I borrowed money from friends, relatives, and others promising them I would not use it for gambling. I had no plans of it when I borrowed the money, but in the end, I lost it all. For the past eight months I have been trying to rebuild trust with these people. Some have started to forgive me and take what I say as truth. Others have not and I believe never will. Do I expect them to though? No. I just hope to repair some trust back with them. Another that came from all of this was the outlook that no matter what I did I was going to lose anyway. It is a feeling of I have no control over the events of my life because at some point I would get screwed over. Any contact I had with someone was an analysis of why were they talking or acting the way they were with me. I got bad enough where I even thought family and close friends were trying to “hustle me”, or win one over on me. I thought everyone had an angle. If they were being friendly, there had to be a scrupulous reason. There had to be an anterior motive. It was like I was living my lifelike everything was in the casino.
See in the casinos, the more you win, the more you get. Complimentary drinks, food, and vouchers are the norm when you are winning. Why? Because when you get these, you are going to stay in the casino long enough for them to win their money-back and then some. So when I spent most of my life during this time in the casinos, I just got use to that lifestyle. In the end, I just made everyone upset and put myself in a position where no one would or could trust me or want to help me.
Gambling addiction is something I will live with for the rest of my life. It is not something you can just one day say I am cured, because it is a conditioning you live with forever. To stop myself from continuing this path of destruction, I have had to take steps that I didn’t want to take, but if I didn’t I would either be dead or in jail. This is the part that is sad; it took others to take control to make me take some of these steps. It is because of family and friends that I am starting on the road to get my problem under control. They sometimes had to do what they knew would upset me. At times I would not understand, but in the end would be better for me. That is what it takes to help someone out with a problem such as this. When you are the person with the problem, you either don’t see you have a problem, or in my case, realize there is a problem but are not strong enough to fix it without help from others. There are much people who I got mad at and thought they were not on my side. But in the end, the only one I can blame for this was me. Gambling addiction is something people never are over, but with family, friends, support groups, literature, and most of all, a willingness to get help, they can have a life where there is some stability.