I thought I was a hopeless case. I nearly lost everything –family, property, job, and my entire savings. But I was able to pull through, and I did not do it by myself.
From the Beginning
“Gambling has become a major recreational activity in the United States,” according to Donald W. Black, MD and Martha Shaw. I am not sure how it all started, but I know for a fact that when I did learn how to gamble, I was willing to risk everything to beat the system and win, although I did remember perfectly well how it felt as I tossed my first dice and it showed the number I betted on. It was such a memorable moment that I want to experience that exhilarating feeling of winning over and over again. I won easily without doing much, which is opposite to what life has to offer.
My Addiction Process
At first, it was merely a means for the distraction from the pressures of work and family. When I gamble, I can escape my helplessness and anxiety. However, what I didn’t realize was that I was slowly trapping myself on the web of addiction to the point of destruction. According to psychiatrist Scott Teitelbaum, MD, “The term addiction is usually reserved to explain a compulsive attraction or pathological attachment to a substance, normally a drug. However, we now recognize that some behaviors can be addicting, such as eating, sex and gambling.”
The gravity of my situation came crashing down on me when I began finding ways on how to accumulate gambling money for the thrill of it all. I was chasing my losses on the offbeat chance that I’ll get back the money that I lost. I tried to control the urge, but every time I cut back, I felt irritable and restless.
I once told my family that I was relieved of my addiction, but in reality, I was just lying to their faces because when I said that I was doing overtime or going out with friends, I was actually at a casino betting the money I borrowed from a colleague.
My addiction has worsened to the point of pleading with my friends and relatives to bail me out of my financial predicament because the money that was intended for paying the mortgage was already gambled away. In the end, I have jeopardized relationships with significant people in my life and have passed on every opportunity of being promoted because I was unable to quit the habit and I was useless at work.
Steering to the Path of Righteousness
It was only when my crying daughter hugged me and told me to stop arguing with my wife that I realized my condition has gone out of hand.
Defending my addiction was a mistake. My family has distanced themselves from me, and I lost my closest friends in the process. Nobody trusts me with regards to financials, and I have filed for bankruptcy just to save what’s left of me. It was the saddest, lowest moment in my life but was also an enlightening experience.
I sought the expertise of a therapist. He has pointed out that I was in dire need of intervention. So I joined a support group called Gambler’s Anonymous and had undergone cognitive-behavioral treatment. Over time, I have noticed that my urge to gamble has lessened and I gained a newfound perspective on life. I’ve also taken antidepressants because it turns out that I was semi-depressed before I became a compulsive gambler.
Initiating the path to a gamble-free life was not a walk-in-the-park. Turns out, facing and accepting myself was more difficult than facing the world. It took me months of therapy, which even resulted in medications. Like what I said, relieving myself from the addiction wasn’t easy because during the process of healing I still had that compulsion to go back to my vice – more like testing the waters. However, with undying support from my family and my determination to fight the addiction, I was able to recover with flying colors. “For family and friends of drug- or alcohol-addicted individuals, addressing the addiction is one of the most difficult aspects of helping the addicted person seek treatment,” said Steven Gifford, LICDC, LPC.