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My Story
I am 29 years old and started gambling when I was about 13. I started gambling on fruit machines in fairground arcades, playing cards with friends and pitch-n-toss. At 18 I began spending most of my time after work in bandit palaces on the high street, spending every penny I had and borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. This cycle began to effect my mental/emotional state and I lost my job at the time because of the gambling and the stress it was placing on me day to day. I also stole items of value from my family's home for which I was discovered and lost a huge amount of trust and respect from my father. My father took control of my finances and settled all of my pressing debts for me.
I then found new employment and took back control of my finances. Within a year I was at it again but now in the bookmakers playing the crack cocaine of gambling Roulette Machines. I wish I was never introduced to these demons as it is they which have destroyed the good things which I had in my life. I would spend every penny I had in each visit to play these machines, back and forth to the cash point with current account card and credit cards. I have racked up personal debt of tens of thousands on these machines, a bit online and a bit in casinos.
I lost relationships with a 6 yr partner with whom I lived with, my father who I have not spoken to properly for years and my friends who I am afraid to contact.
I am a part qualified accountant - or was before I stole money from my employers. I did this twice with two different employers. I am due in court next week for the second offence and looking at a high possibility of going to jail.
I am currently on job seekers allowance and living with my mam. My self esteem/confidence is at an all time low due to the position I have put myself in through gambling. I rarely see my friends as I have nothing good to talk about with them as they are settled with families and have everything that I should have now.
I sit hear now thinking about how much of a confident and bright young lad I used to look at me!
I realise that I have plenty of time to turn things around and this is what I intend to do whether it be before/during or after prison.
I just want people to read my story and realise the ugly road that gambling can take you down....Forget what you have lost and move on with your life...spend your money on good happy memories rather than 10 second rushes which leave you with an empty pocket and a need to re-fill it.
I'd like to hear from anyone who has been down a very similar road to me and turned their life around and now has everything they want in life.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story.
Hi there! Thanks for sharing your story.

Although it is different to mine, it also has many similarities. I too have lost a lot of friends over the years as I have alienated them, partly through borrowing money from them and never paying it back and partly because like your friends, they all started settling down and making lives for themselves while I stayed stuck in the same place doing the same thing day in day out and spending money that I didn't have.

It is very good that you have realized that you have a problem, and if you haven't done already I strongly urge you to find your local meeting via the meetings part of this site and to go along as soon as possible. It would also be a good idea if you can talk to your mam about it and if there is a local GamAnon meeting which is for friends and family members to get support, I would recommend that you encourage her to go along to those meetings as this will not only help her to deal with your gambling but also help her to support you on your road to recovery.

You said that you have in the past given over control of your finances to your father. It is advisable that you ask your mam if she would be willing to take control of your finances for you. It is very difficult to manage your own finances as a gambler, bordering on impossible, so if you can hand control of them over to someone else then this will aid your recovery. After all, if we haven't got access to money then we can't gamble it all away so it can be used to start the process of paying off our debts and gradually wiping the slate clean.

I'm still early on my journey to recovery, but from the support that I have received so far both here and from my group I feel that sharing with you what I have learnt so far is beneficial to both of us.

I wish you well with your court date and on your journey to recovery. It isn't easy, but by taking it one day at a time we can get there, and as such you will find that you start to regain your life and rediscover yourself as gradually the past can be put behind you.
Hi EzzyEsdale,
I'm going to share my story with you, hoping that it will speak to you about something that might help. I joined Gamblers Anonymous many years ago, and it's really changed my life through the years.

Hello All GA members and visitors:
I’ve taken an ID that should tell you where I’m from but I’ll leave the second part of it for another time. My GA Birthday (abstinence-wise) is October 8, 1980, and I’m one of the walking miracles of our fellowship. Had I not found my first meeting, back in July, 1978, after giving almost a year of excuses to my wife (of that time) and then refusing to admit that I had a problem that I COULDN’T SOLVE MYSELF! What an absurd thought, I felt – that there’s something that Superman here couldn’t do? Impossible.
Nonetheless, having answered yes to 7 of the 20 questions, and unable to relate to all the SICK people in the room that July afternoon, because I hadn’t done some of the things they owned up to YET, I wished them well, and thought, Thanks, but No Thanks. I can do this on my own.
So for worse than two years, I came through the “revolving door,” as we call it. There were only 3 meetings in town at that time, and I’d go to the Saturday night meeting, listen, and keep my mouth shut, or share very briefly, but felt jealous about the fact that they were laughing and joking with each other, and I didn’t see anything funny in life. But as time went by, and I could see things getting worse in my life, I was determined that I would stop ON MY OWN. But, I couldn’t do it. I was chasing my losses, and adding more losses to them, but it wasn’t about the money. I never missed paying a bill, but the real losses were to my self-esteem, my relationship with my wife, my poor performance at work, and my overall feeling of worthlessness. What it was about was creating a bigger problem in the process, instead of facing the ones already in front of me.
I’m the son of a family in which alcohol played a large part, a mother who was an adult child of an alcoholic father, and a father who was the son of an immigrant who came to our U.S. of A. to set up a still and make moonshine in West Virginia. Dad died when I was 15, and mom, in her depression, took her own life a year later. So, I know depression when I see it, and I saw it every time I looked in the mirror, while I continued to get worse, so when the last straw broke – a bonus check that came from out of the blue, and disappeared at the single-deck 21 table that same night, I knew this thing was bigger than me, and I had to quit lying to myself, because now I had to admit the gambling was bigger than me. Still, I hadn’t found my bottom. Not more than a week later a buddy came into town to go to the Ali – Spinks fight, Oct 4, 1980, and I picked him up at the airport and took him to the Convention Center to see the fight. Needless to say, I didn’t have a ticket – couldn’t afford one, but I agreed to join up with him and a couple of friends at a joint after the fight, which I did, with no money in my pocket, knowing that if I took any, I’d bet it, as I was sure they’d be gambling, which they were. So, after he bought me a beer, and I watched for no more than a few minutes, I finally asked him to lend me $20, which he did, and naturally, I was in action again, and winning! Paid him back and took home my score, but that was Friday Oct 4 and I was out again with them, Saturday, and Sunday I took him to the airport, but I couldn’t stop. Monday night I gave back everything I’d won, and some more, and Tuesday, Oct 8 was my first day without a bet, and my first meeting where I was willing to do anything NOT to make another bet.
I’d heard a guy speak several times, as I was passing through the revolving door, and he made a lot of sense, and he knew the program and worked it. Tuesday night meetings, which were Step meetings, were chaired by Fred J. and when I shared that night what had been going on with me, they all welcomed me, told me to follow the suggestions on page 17, and to keep coming back. Sounds easy, but when I asked Fred to sponsor me, and he said he would, he told me, “Airman,” Fred was a retired Staff Sgt. In the Air Force, “I’ll sponsor you, and I’m going make it really easy for you, ‘cause I’m just going to ask you to do one thing.” I said OK, and I asked what that was, and he answered, “Everything I say!” He said it slowly, and he said it forcefully, and he said it staring into my face very carefully, and then he laughed, though he was quite serious. He said that page 17 has something on it that’s very difficult for a man to do; namely, to call a name on a list when there’s danger of making a bet. He said, “It’s not a guy thing, airman, so I want you to call me, not every day, and not only when you’re in danger of making a bet, but often, and if I don’t answer, leave me a message, and I’ll call you back. OK?” And I agreed, and I started calling Fred, and it became easier.
And as the days passed, slowly and painfully at first, but one at a time, as the Blue Book reminds us with its title, and I got to 30 of them, I couldn’t believe it, but it was true. Then, somewhere in the next week or so, I told him something that really began to change my life. I told Fred that it didn’t matter whether I was riding my bicycle to work, or mowing the lawn, or driving down the street, my mind would suddenly go to my card-counting system, with a question: What should I do if the count is -7, and the dealer is showing a 4? It was really bothering me that I couldn’t get my head away from the game I’d become addicted to.
Fred told me on the phone that day something that has stayed with me: something to the effect that, where the mind goes, the body will likely follow, sooner or later. You need to get those thoughts out of your head as quickly as possible, he urged me, and you can do it by saying the Serenity Prayer every time you find yourself thinking about gambling of any kind. And soon I realized that it was 20-30 and more times in a day that gambling thoughts jumped into my head, and that’s how often I started saying the Serenity Prayer – every time I found a gambling thought in there.
Well, it took some time, for the frequency of those thoughts to reduce, but eventually they did, and today it’s rare that my mind goes there. Thank God for Fred J, for this program, and for the chance to share with you what has happened in my life since the miracle occurred. To any newcomers, don’t walk away until the miracle of a new beginning happens in your life.
We tell the newcomers where I’m from that there are now more than 100 meetings a week, and there’s no reason one can’t get to at least one each day, and if they can get to 90 meetings in their first 90 days, and they’re still not satisfied, that we’ll gladly refund their misery by letting them walk back out the door to their addiction.
Thanks for letting me share, and thanks for making the Thursday night meeting a reality online. I’m in a town and country with no 12 step meetings of any kind, and I’m glad to be able to join you on Thursdays, though my time zone isn’t quite in sync with yours, but my schedule lets me sleep in a bit on Fridays, so I’ll plan to join you as often as possible. When I told members in different meetings I got to before heading here, several suggested that I look online, and I’m glad they did.
I’ve been able to travel quitea bit, thanks to our program and the way it gave me my life back. It’s taught me my money does me more good when I can spend it doing something I enjoy, rather than losing it to something I’m addicted to. Long story short (no, I guess it’s too late to say that, at the bottom of the second page, isn’t it?) It works if you work it, and it’s like anything you learn. The last step in learning (Step 12) is that you have to teach it to someone else, i.e. You have to give it away to keep it.
Final thought: I answered yes to 7 questions at my first meeting, and after two years going through the revolving door, I answered yes to 18. Given my mom’s demise, that thought entered my mind at times, but I never seriously considered It (#20), because of what it had done to my self-worth when she chose to take her life. And I never gambled until my last dollar was gone (#9). As I mentioned above, I never missed paying a bill.
It was a progressive evil, and I didn’t need to wait until I answered yes to the last 2. I have seen people on all three of the bottom rungs of the ladder: prison, insanity, and death. I knew that was what was waiting for me, if I continued, but I wanted a better life, so I grabbed on with both hands, and I have thousands of one-day-at-a-time days behind me, Thank you, God.
I also have 2 teenage daughters who’ve never seen me in that misery, and I was able to retire early and devote myself to my favorite pastime – I’m a decent tennis player, and I’ve tried several different ventures, including this one, which have really been fun. We tell newcomers, “Let us love you until you can love yourself.” I remember how hard that lost self-love was in regaining, and I’m thrilled that I was able to turn that corner when I finished working the 12 Steps the first time. I work the maintenance steps daily, and my Higher Power is deeply rooted in them. Thanks for letting me share, and keep coming back, because I sure will. God Bless you all, Steve D.
Hi mate,
After reading your story i felt compelled to post a reply as your story is so similar to my own story. I have always been a gambler ever since i was a young boy. I particularly loved going on holiday and playing the fruit machines. I craved the buzz and excitement of winning even then. As time went on my gambling was always under control until i started university and began recieving student loans.

As time went on my gambling addiction worsened massively. I now have large credit card debts with little income and like you i have gradually became increasingly mentally unstable. before i started university i was a happy, caring, and entusiastic person who felt positive and loved life. I was an approachable and popular person who always saw the best in people and would talk to anyone. I hated seeing people upset or unhappy and would go out of my way to cheer the person up. Over the years gambling addiction has turned me ito a completely different person. I now have all sorts of mental issues including depression, anxiety, confidence issues and sleep disorders. I am no longer enthusiastic about life and have begun to lose touch with all my friends who i care about. I have only ever told my family that i'm addicted to gambling. I now wake up every day with worry and stress. I now have to face up to the fact that i need to pay off these debts with a low income despite having a degree 2.1.

I just wish i had never been introduced to and started gambling as my life could have been so much different. I can't help feeling that life is rapidly passing me by and that my whole youth has been ruined due to this addiction. I'm now 26 so need to stop gambling before it really is too late. Gambling ruins lives! If i ever have kids, which i hope to at some stage in my life, i will make sure that they realise the evilness and effects of gambling as soon as they're old enough to understand.

At 29 you're still young enough to turn your life around but like me, i think you need to be provided with constant help and support and to attend ga meetings which i personally intend to start doing asap. I am slowly but surely self excluding myself from varios different websites. I just cant wait until the day comes, hopefully, when i find myself debt free and with no access to gambling so that i can re-start my life. I sincerely wish you all the best mate.

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