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Shoebox's Story
My compulsive gambling started when I was 17 years old, when I joined the Army. I always had a problem of fitting in with other recruits, so I used to play the fruit machines on camp to not feel alone and to fell comfortable with myself.

I would get paid monthly and by the 2nd or 3rd of the month I was absolutely skint, having to sit in my room every weekend, because I couldn't afford to leave camp. This went on for 3 years, even when I was on tour, I would play in a poker school and lose fortunes, I even done a 6-month peace keeping tour and I didn't even manged to save anything. 

When I left the army, it was about the same time as the FOBTS where hitting the high street book makers, I went in one book maker one day to put a bet on a boxing match, then I saw these machines in there, with a group gathered around them, people were queuing up to have a go on them, I thought I must try this. I first played the roulette, I thought it was brilliant, I had my own roulette wheel to myself and loved the clicks and the rattles the machines made when spinning the ball. I would start off betting small, then get bigger and bigger, there was a cash machine next to the bookies, I would keep walking back and forth to it until all my money had gone, I was in a trance like state or a dreamworld, Then panic would set in when I lost all my money, "how would I get through the rest of the week, without food shopping, petrol for the car, and the rent still hasn't been paid?". I would then make lies and make up story's up to my Dad why I hadn't got any wages left, he would always bail me out just enough to get me through the week.

I knew I had a gambling problem when I was 21, I just knew that losing all my money every week gambling just wasn't normal, but I couldn't stop myself. I have tried many methods and measure over the years to stop, self-help books, barring my myself form bookies and casinos, even a Hypnotist, nothing worked for me. My gambling illness was always very cunning a conniving. It always found a way though my guard of sheer determination and willpower.

Towards the end of my gambling days when I was 32, I was really starting to take its toll on me mentally and physically, my friends and family were just seeing straight through me with my lies and story's, I was depressed, I felt isolated, I was constantly walking and with shame and guilt on my shoulders. I was In a dark place, I didn't want to be part of this world anymore.

Then Finally I lost amount of money which a payday loan couldn't cover and my partner was gonna leave me, as an act of desperation I said I would give Gamblers Anonymous a try, I thought this would buy me some more time and at least show some willingness. I went to my first meeting in Leightion Buzzard without no real clue what Gamblers Anonymous was really about, I was pleasantly surprised, everyone made me feel welcome and there were people in the from all walks of life, all different ages and genders. I listened to other gamblers share's, and they were really striking a cord with my own gambling. No one was preaching there, and when I give my share, I felt like I was communicating with people who could relate to me, in the same boat as I was in.

I then become a student at everything with GA, studying and learning all the literature, the 12 steps even the AA big book, I found it kept me busy in the early stages of my recovery, and I was generally fascinated by the program. I would talk to other members in between meetings for hours about our addictions, it really helped me them phone calls.

The biggest help in my abstinence for me, was the Higher Power, I was never religious of spiritual in any way, but when I bought into this idea it was a game changer for me. The problem I had for my 16 years gambling was my Gambling Demon was always stronger than me, I would dance to his tune, but now I have my Higher Power, and he is the stronger than the 3 of us put together, he is my boss. My gambling Demon will be with me the rest of my life, always lurking in the shadows of my mind, looking for an opportunity to get through my guard at my weakest moments, but to get to me these days he needs to get through my Higher Power, and he's there in front of me telling my Gambling Demon "YOU SHALL NOT PASS".

My last bet was the 29th Of September 2017, I have still got a long way to go with my recovery, and I recently got a sponsor to go through the 12 steps with me, and to talk too for day to day support. I am certainly in a better place today than I was before I went to Gamblers Anonymous meeting. I have learned to like myself again, I feel happy within myself. I have got new non gambling passions now, like my motorbike, and I am studying academically, all keeping me very busy.

I have been there and come out of the other side. All it took for me to admit I was powerless over gambling and I couldn't sort the problem out with just my willpower alone, and that I needed help. 

The truth has set me free.

My name is Martin, I am a compulsive gambler, my last bet was 29.9.2017. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Excellent post Martin. Well done on getting so far with your recovery.

The admission to yourself and to those around you is the biggest step really, and going through the door at your local GA meeting is also tough but once those are in place, the road to recovery opens its door to you.

Really good read, keep it up.
I am in the very early stages of having a sponsor, but already I am confident I have made the right decision. The member I have asked to sponsor me is an old school kind of guy, and has told me, he will not put up with no messing about, I have come to him for help, not the other way round.

He has asked me for 3 texts a week, plus 1 phone call as a minimum, they don't have to be long texts or phone calls, just a quick message or a chat to make sure I am OK.

We then meet up every Sunday for an hour a half to work the 12 steps of recovery, this process should take me around 6 or 7 months. I am hopeful one day I can return the favor and work the 12 steps with another member who wishes to go through them, as it's a journey that takes 2 people.

I plan to give updates on my progress, and share with other members my journey through the 12 steps.

In Unity
My name is Martin, I am a compulsive gambler, my last bet was 29.9.2017. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Week 5 in to the 12 steps with my sponsor and I have just completed Step 1.

The problem I had with step 1, was I was could admit I was powerless over gambling, but never truly admitted to my self or others that my life had become unmanageable, this really was a big jump in the right direction for me in my recovery.

I now make a list every day of what I would like to achieve for that day, and ticks tasks off as I get them done, I don't necessarily get everything done, but at least now I have got a structure to my day, and the feeling I get when I complete one of my tasks is sublime.

Before GA, I would struggle to make my mind up, and I would just end up gambling instead of making a decision. I would never ask for anyone's help with anything, I felt I could manage just fine on my own, I had a real obstinate attitude and stance on everything. These days I got my meeting and my sponsor and I like to run things through him first, just to have an opinion of someone I respect and trust to help me make the right calls, 2 heads are better than 1 in my perspective now.

I am really glad I have made the right judgment to get a sponsor and go through the 12 steps with him, the constant contact and the meeting up every week has been a significant benefit to me and my recovery. I am really starting to feel better, much better.

In my meeting last night I have been voted in as the meeting secretary, it is nice to give something back to GA, in the pre GA days, I wouldn't of done nothing for anybody, unless I could earn from it. I hope this is a positive personality change I am seeking from within, to be a useful member of society in general.

I am looking forward to the next step into my journey.

In Unity
My name is Martin, I am a compulsive gambler, my last bet was 29.9.2017. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Hi Martin, a great read for anyone who can't see hope and you've shown them it is there through the GA doors. It also clearly shows you are recovering as well and by being an active member of your group I'm sure that will help even more.
I too have recently become Secretary of my group and now put more in to help others. Even simple things like making sure we have enough books or new members are called to make sure they're okay, well that helps me by helping others.
Keep up the good work.
Good news all around....

Offering service in GA can be a fantastic tool in recovery, but i'm also mindful that it can be taken advantage of.  Keep yourself safe and honest in your recovery as a whole...

Smartie xx
Meetings help, but meetings are only a small part to how GA works....

GA is a 12 step organisation that offers the program that keeps me in recovery...


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