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On holiday wanting to keep up with ga routine by posting a therapy.
My names Andy and I’m a compulsive gambler

For years I knew I was a compulsive gambler but never wanted to or knew how to stop and I certainly didn’t want to admit it to anyone as then people would know I had debts and my ego simply wouldn’t allow that !!

For the most part the buzz of winning far outweighed the pain of losing but the money, the ego boosts and false pride it gave me just perpetuated the dreamworld of fame and fortune without having to put any effort in to gain such luxuries. It was an “all or nothing” “fuck it” attitude that either won me fortunes or took me into debt and emotional despair.

Like most people in GA after being found out I was pushed through the door but it didn’t take long for me to realise I was in a room full of like minded people.

I thought I was just foolish for not being able to collect when winning or not being able to stop chasing when losing so the realisation that I actually had an illness was a real relief, I’d tried on and off for the best part of 20 years to stop and just couldn’t . So by knowing I was sick I knew I could get the medicine to make me better.

The medicine turned out to be an orange book of guidelines, a 12 step program to better me as a person and a minimum weekly meeting with other compulsive gamblers .

At first I was dubious of the religious aspect of the group, god give me this god give me that, a need for a spiritual belief in a higher power was all very daunting as I am not in anyway religious.

By talking to other members my fears of the group being some kind of cult were eased . And just having an acceptance of something more powerful than me was enough . After all when in the grips of gambling despite my non religious attitude, time and time again I prayed to something for my number to come in at the roulette table or said to myself if there is a god I’ll win this time and never bet again . (Haha compulsive liar)

Being on a daily programme has certainly changed mine and my family’s life for the good.

I used to be selfish with my time, I lied continually, and had no respect for the money that I was wasting. Before the inevitable break down due to stress and coming to the end of all credit lines I’d racked up tens of thousands worth of debt and spent/stole any additional money we had as a family .

I found this to be the case also with fellow members so immediately made friends .
There were stories in the room that I related with and there were stories of things that I’d considered and could see myself doing if I’d got further down the line, the phrase “a progressive nature” rang true with me from day one .

Within the first month of being in the rooms we lost a member to suicide and another had serious injuries from jumping off pitsea flyover .

On occasions i too had dark thoughts of ending the lonely misery I was living in but never had the guts to carry anything out, from the outside my life looked perfect, mainly because I’d become a Jeckle & Hide type character. This is what the gambling addiction had driven me to .

Many times Id take unnecessary risks at work scaffolding and driving to and from work became a gamble every day as I was recklessly speeding around country lanes with the thought in my mind that if I died it would be seen as an accident so the wife and kids would still get my life insurance .

My basic feeling was that I was so fucked they were better off without me !

After only a few weeks in Ga this feeling subsided and I knew I’d spend the rest of my life devoting my time to them as any normal father/husband would.

At the start once I’d been honest about my debts and what I was doing with my time we put all the recommended barriers in place and although I hated having no money I could see the debt coming down and my head was clearing of thoughts of gambling my way out of financial trouble, I’d learnt/understood a key message “the compulsive gambler can not win” as all my past experiences had shown over time any win would be used as stake money for yet more gambling.

Another fundamental part of the programme was drummed into me in the early days by long standing members and that was to take it one day at a time. This now I believe to be the most important part in keeping off a bet.
If we can do “just for today” there’s no reason we cant do it continually forever more.
When I was told this was a life long programme my ego or was it the addiction? Thought don’t be stupid I’ll do it for a year or so then I’ll be fine .
That year proved to me it was life long because I saw many people who had abstained for serious amounts of time break out and go back to their old deceitful ways . The reason was complacency, they all admitted they’d stopped treating the addiction one day at a time and were just coming for a two hour a week top up and that simply wasn’t enough .
I learned that you have to get involved , speak to members on the phone meet them socially whether for drinks or to play sports, to watch a game of football anything to give you an outlet for your emotions so they don’t build up inside.

For me communication with the Mrs was hard, not because she would throw back in my face what I’d done , far from it she was very supportive , but I didn’t want to seem weak or needy , I’m old fashioned, supposed to be the man of the house providing for the family, so talking with other members who’d lived through these experiences gave me great insight into how to turn my communications skills around.

Always take a step back, avoid hurry and indecision, don’t be confrontational these were all character defects I was told to work on. Over time they went away and now I’m able to share all feelings with the Mrs and discuss sensibly any problems rather than keeping them to myself.

The balance of work, family time, GA and time to myself in the first year was all wrong. They were up and down and interchanging all the time .
First I was told get Yourself right by getting GA right and the rest will fall into place , obviously not as easy as it sounds and the family need to be patience and understanding (this is where gamanon and open meetings are helpful) but I feel now I’m on an even keel with all departments.

This equal shared time means I can keep my mind at ease and everyone is happy and understands my need for GA and quiet time to myself to keep the addiction under wraps, therefore allowing me to spend quality time with the family giving them my full attention rather than being there in body but not in mind.

GA done properly has the ability to change people from constant gambling with vulgar personality traits into Good people who are a pleasure to be around, Getting a recovery underway on the right foot is a sure fire way to a happy future .

If you have just started on your path or you think you might be edging the wrong way it doesn’t matter, it’s just for today so start afresh now the way you mean to carry on ??

Read the orange book regularly
Do the 12 steps
Live a happy life.

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