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Newbie looking for advice
Hi everyone. I'm Kez and I'm here looking for some advice.

I've always been a sucker for getting in over my head with things, and in the past have had a serious addiction to scratchcards whereby I was going to garages and shops that sold them even if there were nearer ones to where I live or where I was at the time. This went on for about a year until I decided that enough was enough and changed my habits to make sure I wasn't in places where they were sold. I managed about 5 years without buying a single scratchcard or even a lottery ticket, although the lottery itself has never been a problem as it's something that I've never been that interested in.

Things were going well and I managed to get my finances back in order and actually manage to maintain a decent lifestyle on a very limited income until about two years ago when I started to slide back again into the scratchcards trap. Now, because I've already been there done that with them once, I've been a lot more careful and have managed to limit myself to a maximum of 5 scratchcards a week.

Since the middle of last year I've got into online bingo and while it started out as a bit of harmless fun with me limiting myself initially it slowly started creeping up, which is a big chunk of my income. I decided that it had to stop, and in October last year I played what I thought would be my last game unless it was an actual rare trip out to the bingo hall, which only happens once a year if not less frequent than that.

Everything changed 3 months ago and now I'm sucked in again big time and have lost over this week.

It all started with a death in the family, which combined with my underlying depression and addictive personality drove me back to playing online bingo as a way to escape for an hour or two, once or twice a week, with a limit set of a maximum deposit a week. I wasn't winning anything though, so thought that it would be a good idea to try a different site. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to win big, just a few quid here and there to leave on the account as "play money". One site turned into two, then three, then six as I tried to find one that I at least got a few lines on, but each time the amount I would use to try and get a win would increase.

Six weeks ago I also started playing the slots as side games while playing bingo, which is something that I've never done before as I know that slots are a guarenteed waste of money.

I'm in over my head, and I know I've got a problem, but I'm really scared as to what I should do about it. There are GA meetings in my town, but I am really terrified of going as although I know I need the help to beat this as I can't do it on my own, I'm a naturally nervous and emotional person. In fact, it's taken me all day, just to pluck up the courage to write this out - interspersed with another deposit and losing it all on the slots again.

I can't confide in my family, and I have very few friends, none of which are close enough to talk to about my gambling without them both judging me and probably just spreading the word about it to others that know me and dropping me as a friend. At the moment the only thing that I do know for certain is that I can't carry on like this.

I've no money at all now till next week, have ran my credit card right back up to the limit yet I was doing reasonably well in paying it off, and have ran up my overdraft so much that it is over the limit, something that I have not done for almost 8 years. I'm scared that if I don't get help and get back in control where I am not gambling that I will be back in the same position as I was back then where I lost everything, including my job, because of the debt I'd got myself into through a mixture of gambling and compulsive shopping (I also have a big weakness for cars - but that's another story!).

I really appreciate any advice that anyone can give me, and if someone could explain what goes on at a typical meeting then that would be fantastic as if I have a rough idea of what to expect then I am more likely to take the plunge and go.

It will be really difficult for me to go, especially the first couple of times, as not only am I nervous, but I find doing something new, especially something that I have no idea what will happen, incredibly difficult meaning that if it is something that I know nothing about, or very very little about, then I usually set off from the house with good intentions but by the time I've got the car onto the road and pointed in the right direction I chicken out and end up going for a drive instead.

Oh just one other question, I know the basic idea is almost the same as that of AA, so from my knowledge of AA (I had a supervisor at one point who went) can I ask if GA also uses the principle of sponsors for extra support away from meetings? I think this will be the deal maker for me, because if this is common practice then it would be something that I would grab with both hands and so I would push myself harder to go to a meeting if I thought that there was a half chance of having someone on the other end of the phone or that I could maybe meet up with for a coffee during the week to give me extra support especially during the early days when temptation is at it's strongest.

Phew, that's a lot to get off my chest, and now I feel totally drained and yet somehow like things can only get better from here now that I've actually said it.

Thanks in advance for your help and advice.

Hi Kez,

Reading your story was like reading my life, I loved scratchcards, would buy at least 5 everytime I went into a shop for tobacco. Then online bingo, would play that like it was going out of fashion, got bored with it one day, then I noticed the side games...........5 years and much debt later I am a recovering compulsive gambler.

I was a bit like you when I thought about going to a meeting, nervous, didn't like new things. I have been bet free for 10 months, thanks to GA, the online chat and the people at the end of the phone.

Meetings are made up of a group of compulsive gamblers who help and support each other to stay off the bet. We work a very simple programme of recovery, similar to AA, The 12 Steps, and a daily programme of Just for Todays................
A sponser can be arranged amd most meetings will have a telephone contact list to help newcomers to the programme and keep the old ones refreshed <!-- s:-) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_e_smile.gif" alt=":-)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:-) -->. We also have a chatline on the site which is opened 24-7, an online meeting on a thursday night at 9pm and all the support that you need everyday.
I suggest you take the plunge Kez, what more do you have to loose.

There is hope for a better life and GA can help you get there.

All the best
If you have a desire to stop gambling then you should go to a G.A. meeting as soon as possible.
Thanks for your replies. I really do appreciate that you took the time to read my very long post (I wasn't expecting it to be that long when I started!) and even more so that you took time to reply. It means a lot, and makes me realize that I'm not being silly worrying about it.

I've found out where my local meeting is, so if I can pluck up the courage, I'll go to the next one. I think I might have to have a dry run though before then just to make sure I know exactly where I am going, where to park, and other things like that then at least I won't need to worry about those things adding to my nerves.

I'm actually feeling pretty pleased with myself at the moment, because I've not had a gamble since I posted on Friday night, although last night was very difficult on me and it took every last ounce of will power (and disconnecting the modem) to not go online. It's not much I know, but it's a start and if I can keep it up with support from here and meetings then I truely believe that I can learn to not only stop gambling, but also to manage the temptations and in time become more in control of myself instead of being controlled by the addiction to effectively flushing money down the toilet.

I am feeling a very reassured by the fact that I am really not the first person to be this terrified. Of course, I never expected that I would be, but it still is a big weight off when it is said out loud.

I feel like I know a lot more now than I did on Friday, and so now I can prepare myself for going to my first meeting.

Thanks again for your replies and support.

Hi again,

Things aren't going so well. I've already slipped and been back gambling both last night and tonight. I really hate myself for it too, especially as I'd had to put the credit limit up on my credit card to give me some funds for urgent car repairs and now I've gambled almost all of the car money away. I only got paid on Tuesday too, and all my disposable cash for the whole month is gone, leaving me only just enough to pay the bills.

I was really hoping that I would be able to go to a meeting tomorrow, but tonight I've had it dropped on me that I have to be somewhere else tomorrow night so I'm not going to be able to go. I was also hoping that I would have got home tonight in enough time to be able to sit in on the online meeting, but that got sideswiped too as I ended up being stuck out much longer than I was anticipating.

I almost confided in my brother yesterday afternoon, as I am lucky to be able to talk to him about quite a few things, although not everything. I seriously was thinking about it, but then we were having such a nice and rare afternoon out together that I didn't want to spoil it so I kept my mouth shut.

I'm feeling really frustrated with things seeming to be conspiring against me taking the next step, but even more than that I am so annoyed with myself, as I had promised myself that I would not gamble. I feel like I've let myself and everyone else down. These feelings aren't exactly helping the issue either, as they are making me want to do something to relax instead of feeling them, and that's why I've slipped again tonight after last nights slip.

I have been thinking though, and I'm toying with the idea of telling my family that I'm going to be unavailable for anything all day and night every Friday from next week as I need a day off from all the emotional rollercoaster that comes from the many issues that I have to deal with day in and day out. I've got other things starting during the day on Fridays soon too that are going to be essential for me to go to, so I guess that because the family already knows about them, it won't be a stretch to say that I'm just not going to be around or answering the phone for the whole 24 hour period. I think that it's going to be difficult for me to get to meetings otherwise as things regularly come up at the last minute and I have to drop everything to deal with them, so I need to find a way of making it happen.

I really believe that this can work for me. I've got through lots of things by faith and prayer in my past along with having people who understand to talk to. This is something that I can't go to my regular support network for though, as they are all very strict religious people and they would judge me for it - I get enough of that on a normal day anyway for being one of the 'black sheep' in the family. That's why after reading the 12 steps through a few times and lots of thought about it, I came to the conclusion that GA is the answer for me.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day, so I'll try again tomorrow to not gamble for the day.

Well yesterday was going well until the day took a turn for the worse in the evening and I ended up back on the dreaded slots. Still, I've tried again today and now I'm just getting ready to head off to bed and I've managed to not gamble today so I've forgiven myself for yesterdays slip. Tomorrow is another day again, and hopefully I can make it to then end of the day without gambling.

I have realized that I do have another question though - is the chat used much? It has been empty every time I've connected and I don't know if that is because it isn't used much or if I'm just missing everyone on there. If it's me missing everyone, roughly what time do people be on there too? I've spent a lot of my working life working nights before I had to stop working due to ill health and my body refuses to accept a normal daytime pattern which is why I'm nearly up very late.
(mods - this can be merged into the other post I just made. I hit submit too soon. Sorry)

Also, is it possible to connect to chat directly? I'm just thinking that it might be helpful for me if we can because then I can set up a chat client I use regularly to be able connect from my phone so I can access it no matter where I am.
Well I've made it through another day. It's been so tempting though. I was supposed to being some work on the pc tonight ready for use tomorrow, but as I couldn't trust myself to open the right programmes and sites I didn't go on it so the work hasn't got done. Still, better to not do the work than gamble especially as the work isn't essential yet. At some point soon though I'm going to need to go on the pc and at a bare minimum move all the bookmarks and programmes away from the desktop then I wont see them every time I log onto the machine.

I'm feeling very low in myself, even though I should be feeling good that I have made it through another day. In fact, bearing in mind that I suffer from serious depression at the best of times anyway, I'm feeling so bad that I'm actually considering seeing my doc about it too. I know that things will get better and in time it will get easier to not give into the temptation to gamble but it doesn't make it any less testing on my mood at the moment. I'm confident though that as long as I can get to this weeks meeting and get the very first meeting over and done with then I can take more strength from a big step in the right direction which should help as a big chunk of the anxiety over going to my first meeting will then be dealt with.

I've found out that there is a meeting in another town tomorrow. It's not too far away though and unless something goes wrong during the day I'm not doing anything tomorrow night up to now so I'm thinking about going along there although I'm planning on using the meetings in my home town as my regular ones. It's just a ling time yet till Friday so if I can get to these others on Mondays too at least during these early days then I think it will be a big help ro me. In one way it might even be easier than my home town meeting for the first one as the chances of seeing someone I know are highly reduced.

I've also been thinking about maybe getting in touch with an old minister from a church I used to go to as I always found that I could talk to him about anything. The only problem with that is that he isn't a minister any more as he had to give it up due to serious illness in the family. If I can track down a phone number for him though then I might well give him a ring. I've not been to church since before he had to step down as minister so I've not got a relationship with the current minister and even if I had I dont know if I could talk to him about my gambling and how it is affecting me as quite a few members of my family go to that church and I would worry about them accidentally being told about anything I've talked about with him.

So all being well I'm gonna try and get to a meeting tomorrow night. I'm most definitely finding writing on here a big help as I can get things off my chest without feeling like I'm being judged. Of course that means that I seem to ve writing a lot of essays but at least I'm not having to bottle everything up quite as much and can be honest about how I'm doing, if I'm struggling or slipping up, and if I'm making any progress. In time I'll be able to come clean to my family, but for now with other things that are going on which are more serious in most ways it's not the right time yet to say anything and definitely not worth causing any more worry to anyone else than I need to at this point. I think once I'm making more progress then I'll be more able to come clean with them as the fact that I'm doing something about it and getting there slowly with it will make it in many ways a much easier conversation to have. I think it would be different if I didn't live by myself but because I do it does mean that it is less likely that any of the family are even aware of the situation.

I think I've wrote enougg for tonight. I hope it makes sense as my spell check auto changes spelling so sometimes words get altered and I've only scanned it for typos.

Looking forward to making tomorrow a day without gambling abd getting to my first meeting.

I've had a practice run to tonights meeting earlier today to get a rough idea of where I'm going. It wasn't too difficult to find and it's relaxed me quite a bit, or it had till I sat down with some food a few mins ago and the butterflies have come back big time. My plans nearly got changed too which as I've been building myself up for going all day I wasn't happy about so I just said I was going out and couldn't, which naturally led to being quizzed about where I'm going, what for and who with. I pretty much just deflected them but I can guarantee I'll have to answer them tomorrow. At least I'll have all day to prepare some answers. I'm not ready to be honest about where I'm going just yet. Anyway about another 30 mins then I'm going to need to set off to give me plenty time to get there, find somewhere to park and find the exact address. I'd rather be far too early and have time to kill than be on the last minute as I'd just talk myself out of it saying that I'd be late and so better to not go today. I'm getting really nervous about going as it is getting closer but I'm determined to do it so I'm not going to let my nerves get the better of me.

I'll write again later when I get home again and let you know how I've got on including if I did manage to go in or chickened on the doorstep.

Taking everyday as a day for change and each day as a day I aim to not gamble on, one day at a time.

I went to my first meeting tonight. I was totally terrified and nearly went home especially when I was having problems finding the exact address. I found it though and straight away everyone was very friendly and reassured me that things could only get better now I've made the first step.

In the meeting itself, I got a lot from hearing other peoples therapies, and was not only surprized by the number of people (I was expecting 3-4, not a room full!) but by how much people had in common with me. After the break, I gave my therapy along with some other new people. I was never intending to do that, but I had been talking to a couple of people in the break and suddenly thought when the chairperson asked if I wanted to give my therapy that seeing as I've not only made it there, but also been speaking to a couple of people during the break, I'm over half way there so might as well get it over and done with instead of not doing then still having the extra anxiety of having to give my first therapy every week till I do it.

I'm actually thinking now that because I felt comfortable in tonights group, that I'm going to make it my main group and then if I feel I need to go to an extra meeting I have the option of the Friday one.

I'm feeling more confident now than I have been doing, and it feels like a big weight has been lifted now that I have said it out loud. I've even taken the first steps towards blocking gambling sites on my computer (probably got a good chunk of bingo sites blocked now and a couple of other ones that I thought off from the top of my head) although I've still got the rest of the computers on the network to do as my router is rubbish and won't let me block them at the router so I have to do each computer individually.

Today I haven't gambled. I will ask for the same strength again tomorrow.


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