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My name is John, I am a compulsive gambler.

This is my first time to this site and therefore this is my first post. It is not a forum question or statement but something that in hindsight has been waiting to come out for some time. Please don't feel you need to read it. I'm sure much of it is a similar tale to other stories on here. But I needed to get this get out, to write it down, to see it in words and to attempt to process it. I guess you could say this is me admitting to myself and whoever else reads this, that I have a problem. I am a compulsive gambler. And this seemed the best place for it.

I have been gambling for 18 years. It started when I was 16, putting a couple of quid on horse bets and enjoying the bright lights and game play of fruit machines. Being an adventurous teenager it was all about trying new things and I loved it. The odds, the variables, the statistics, the number crunching - all suited me perfectly.
By the time I left school it had become a daily occurrence. I felt I couldn't miss the next day as it might be the day all my horses come in.

I justified it that I was still there as I was waiting for my big win - then I'd quit. Many of the old fella's in the shop would talk about the day their acca's came in and they pocketed a small fortune. I won a few hundred on occasions but not the thousands I was convinced would come my way and give me the perfect moment to stop gambling. Over the next few years this habit continued and worsened. I had to get some of the money back that I had 'invested'. I also started to notice i was gambling larger amounts and wouldn't leave when I had won. I could win the jackpot on a fruit machine and then give it all back. I started to realise I wasn't just there for the prospect of winning money.

The introduction of the roulette machines were a total killer for me. I still wouldn't put more than a few quid on the horses and fruit machines took time to lose money on but roulette... gee... that could be a weeks wages gone in 10 minutes. And before long it was. Although I had a very small income - within a month I was losing sometimes hundreds a day. I was lying to family, friends and work about money, where I had been and why I must nip off. I knew I had to act, I was totally out of control and it scared the hell out of the me. The problem was, I would always give up tomorrow and tomorrow was taking a long time in coming.

Eventually I confided in a friend. Everyone knew I liked a punt so it was admitting that it was now out of control. She recommended a hypnotherapist that had helped her stop smoking. I went with a real desire for this to work and although I don't think it did a lot to cure my subconscious it gave me a 'tomorrow', a starting point and I stopped... completely.

Initially it was hard but the feeling of freedom was empowering and helped me to simply stay out of the bookies. As I could now speak in past tense about the period of my addiction, I started admitting to it to more people. In a way, that was cleansing and I felt it gave me less and less chance of falling back into it. That peoples knowledge of it was a safety net over the abyss.

I remember admitting everything to my wonderful and devoted older sister. She told me the most important thing I could do now was to forgive myself. Forgive myself for the lies I had told, forgive myself for the life focus I had let it rob of me and for missing out on wonderful times due to being broke or depressed. She didn't blame me for it either, she was insistent that I had an illness and that I should be incredibly proud of diagnosing it, admitting to it and making myself well again. Although I still felt really guilty that I should take any credit for this horrible saga, I started to actually be proud of myself again. And that felt great.

So that was me for 5 years. I got a decent job and then a better one. I finally moved out of my family home. I had money to spend on holidays, on my girlfriend and I started to keep on top of my still relatively enormous debt I'd accrued. Fruit machines didn't beckon me over, I flicked over the racing on t.v and I skipped the racing pages in the paper and, most importantly, I walked straight past the high street bookies with an (almost) total sense of control. I remember even feeling a sense of pity for those inside. Then my sister died.

No one knows why she died. She had a cold symptoms on Wednesday, more like flu symptoms on Thursday, was rushed to hospital on Friday when she woke up blind and died Saturday morning. I arrived after she'd slipped into a coma. I never had a chance to tell her to be strong, to thank her for your love or to say goodbye.

It broke me. It broke my family. Things started to unravel. I broke up with my long term girlfriend. With the banking collapse, I lost my job and I couldn't get another one and my old gambling debts were on top of me again. Mum and Dad asked me to move home and help them get it ready to sell. In return I wouldn't need to pay rent and they would pay off my debts once the sale had gone through. It seemed the right thing to do.
Except I was returning to the scene of the crime. I had a gambling problem almost the entire time I had lived in that house. A few weeks after I'd moved back I over heard some guys discussing the upcoming England game on a train. One was talking about a bet they were putting on with Eng to win. I remember thinking "hey, thats what I would guess too". I put my first bet on in over 5 years. It lost.

The following months I found myself more and more in the old bookies again and back on the roulette. I was very controlled at first. Only a few pounds in and then walked away if I didn't win.. but it didn't last. I was back on the path again and I remember loving the rush. Dad paid me a good sum for my work but instead of throwing it at my debts, I threw it harder and faster at the machines. I was so caught up with them I almost forgot to put any horse bets on. I had numerous moments of clarity, moments of telling myself you can't go down this road again, you can't do this to the memory of your sister, you have to stop. But I didn't.
More money meant for my debts entered my account and although I managed to pay off some of the debt before I had a chance to blow it, a lot of it still went down the road. Into the machines, into oblivion.

That was 2 years ago now. I never got on top of the debts and now they have crept back up to where they were before my parents help. I am now totally out of control. I have drained every financial resource I could find. I've borrowed more off my parents, more off the bank, I've gone cap in hand to my other sister crying poverty... and then run off to the machines when the cheque has cleared. I blew hundreds in one day on the machines a few months ago and followed it up with more the next day. That kind of thing just eats you up inside. You're almost in shock for next few days. Until you get more funds and do it all again.
I just want to turn the clock back, to go back that moment on the train when I decided to put a bet on again. The moment when the first big installment went into my account. Even to return to last week when I hadn't blown money!

I have no idea how I will forgive myself for this - but I guess being on here is a start, reading others plights, hopes and battles is a start and writing all this down so I can't pretend it hasn't happened is a start.

So to anyone who has got this far... thank you. You have helped me start this long and difficult road.
I must remember I have done it before... and with your help, I will do it again and this time for good.


P.S. If anyone attends the Central London meetings - I'd love to know of a friendly face before I arrive.
Hi John and welcome to GA.

Firstly well done for your post and admitting this is a problem for you still. And really well done for sorting out a meeting, they are really helpful and trust me you don't need to find a friendly face before you go as when you get there you will find a room full of them.

Compulsive gambling is an illness and although im not sure of any wonder cure, it can and with sheer determination be supressed.

The story you tell of your sister is heart breaking and ALL lifes trials are what that little demon sat at the back of our heads are waiting for. You like I and many others seem to use gambling as a form of escapism it works very well at this in the short term but very quickly will just make the problems worse giving more need to escape from them. So the downward spiral begins.

Everyones story is slightly different but it all ends in the pit of self destruction that we do not want to be in. I for one even after knowing that i had a problem, after admitting it to myself would still walk into a bookies or casino knowing that i would lose everything i had in that session, I had every intention of losing it all i was playing to win only to make the session last longer. The longer the session lasted the longer i was escaping and the longer it was untill i had to leave and face my demons again. In all honesty most days i couldn't even specify a problem for me to escape, it just became what i did so i think i just ended up escaping myself.

John you have done this before you have been bet free for 5 years that is something i cannot even start to imagine. You can do it again, nevermind tomorrow you know tomorrow never comes. So just for today do not gamble. Just for today be the person you want to be not the person you fear and dislike.

Remember you are not alone in this there is always a friendly face at a meeting a friendly face that understands better than anyone. There is always here even at silly o'clock in the morning the forum is there maybe even on chat.

Wish you well my friend,

My name is Daryl and i too am a compulsive gambler.
Firstly welcome and thanks for that post!! sincerely! It must have taken a lot of courage to write down all of your emotions on this.

Life is cruel it hurts us in ways we know not how, sometimes the ones we love the most guide us.

I hope you feel my sincerity in the next part of my post:

Family ties and reasons to "escape" as we do into gambling are often there...But i wish to share something never discussed in my personal therapy.

At the height of my gambling I was alone apart from one person, my grandmother, she never judged, she never gave me money, she did something that no one outside of GA has done and that is "listen".

She was old, she could not hardly walk and I would go at weekends to help her in her apartment, more to keep her company and fill my day as if I had money I would be gambling.

She shared many things with me, about her life, about people envolved in her life and I believe she sypathised with me due to the relationship I had with my father.

In fact she answered many questions I had.

I dont blame anything for my gambling apart from I am a CG, but i would often blame the insecurities on many childhood things.

Under the lonely life I lead from 18-28 there was homelessness, desperation but always my nan was my rock.

I escaped my life in 2007...i hit rock bottom, in a hole of desperation I found the way to live Just for today.

Then 6months after being away I got the tragic news that my grandmother had passed away.

Hence my share now of something i found in my life to be inspirational to me, something that for the first time in my life gave me hope and belief my path was a correct one to choose:

the day of my grandmothers funeral I called home and told my mum to say a prayer for me and tell Nan i loved her so so much, my mum asked I in turn say a prayer to my nan.

So as promissed in the afternoon i went outside to the balcony of my apartment, stood looking at the beautifull blue sky when a V of swans flew over my head at some altitude flying from right to left across the sky, they had got 200metres or more flying away when i closed my eyes and said a deep prayer for my nan.

I told her I loved her, I told her that I did what I had to purely and simply to change my life, to stop gambling and to become a better man, this prayer lasted 2mins, then I opened my eyes and looked into the distance and the V of swans was now specs in the distance and as I then glance high in the sky above my head one swan was circling above me, on its own, it circled twice then flew at speed in the direction of the others.

Stood in amazement i watched as it flapped its gracefull wings fast to catch the others and straight away I said "my nan just said goodbye"

tears that rolled down my face ended with a smile that I had the courage to change, god had granted me the serenity.

Now many non believers may mock this story but I have shared this with not many people and one person I did told me a similar recollection.

End result is that now I believe that someone so beautifull they saw the good in me even at my worst has gone to a better place and it has effected the way in which i live my life because like that swan they are watching over me.

I have avoided hurry since, avoided gambling, I have shred the things holding me back in life from my life, I have lived just for one day.

There will be times and there has been in the past 4+ yrs since when I have questioned my problem and returned (three times) the last being April of this year however each time it has reminded me of the fact I want to be at peace with the world and at peace with me.

Not many people at GA and I am on forum, chat daily know how deeply I have changed and the reasons why I have changed, but the biggest one is belief.

Belief in a higher power than myself.

Gambling to a compulsive gambler will take dignity, pride, it will eat all, it has no boundaries, it will continue to cause devastation, grief and misery.

But I will never forget that day etched forever in my mind the day I realised who and what i am and what i need to do to live a normal life.

It is simple to say "god grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference" but i now know the true meaning of these words.

Welcome John, I truly hope you follow my path and hope like this Group of men and women who have come together we can inspire one another to lead normal lives.


Thanks Bigdave.
I would be honoured to receive it.
See you there... I'll be the one with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Thank you John for all your honesty and openness and a truly moving share.

Thank you for helping me in my reocovery. Thank you for reminding me of the inevitable progressive nature of our illness and how I need to always watch myself not becoming complacent or indifferent again.

Thank you for reminding me of this illness is going to be here for the rest of my life, and how it is my responsibility always, to do whatever I can not to allow it to take over control again.

Happy that you have found the company of Big Dave and wish you all the best at your meetings! Hope you will hang around here on this forum too and find the same additional support here that I have found and am finding.

Thank you again. With warmth!

Wow. Am blown away with the warmth and heartfelt care I have got from your responses.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond and choosing your words so well.

Its amazing and reassuring we all see some of our own experiences in others when no doubt we are all very different in many other aspects of our lives. And to know you have felt many of the same emotions is already helping me move further away from the self loathing thats been eating me up. It is also giving me strength to know that with GA, I shall never be walking this path alone.

I guess in hindsight having this kind of community was the missing element of my last experience to quit - there was no one to stop me becoming complacent.

I am also embracing this one day at a time mantra. It helps to quell the panic that I can NEVER bet again and therefore NEVER get any of my money back. Forever is such a long time that I almost have a panic attack just thinking about it but just telling myself I can't go today is actually manageable.
I also love that statement about you are never any further away from your next bet. So simple and so true.

So you may have noticed from my tone that today's John is already feeling a damn sight more positive then John of 4 days ago. I'm sure some of it is early cold turkey euphoria and I know there are some VERY hard times are ahead but thanks guys for already making me feel better than I have in years.

Now to try and keep this positive attitude as I pick up the pieces of what Gambling John has left of my life!

Huge thanks again. I am really looking forward to getting to share more with you guys and you more with me.

With warmth,

My name is John - I am a compulsive gambler but for the last 4 days I have only been compulsive.

(Barrie - your Nan just received a thank you prayer from me)
Welcome to the site. You have made the correct choice in posting. This site has been a massive help to me and today is my 100th day free of the bookies and, in particular, roulette. Roulette also took me to depths I never thought imagineable. As I have previously mentioned elsewhere on this forum the game is too fast and can take you for every penny you have in a very short space of time.

The one positive that jumps out from your post is that you have tackled this before and won. I know you can do it again. You have experience of putting a plan into place that prevented you from gambling and it was a success.

I wish you well.

Really pleased you read my post and that of the others taking the 12th step, they are all very helpful to me and maybe sometimes they all don't know how much.

So for all there replies a big heartfelt thanks, your my kind of people!

The people who learn the errors of the past, move forwards with just another day and hope that we can help one another, John I have been where you were and today you brought a smile to my face that this is all worth the effort,

Your recovery is my recovery, but I am only one step away from a bet. Just for today i hope and pray that I continue to be the "better man" with an angel looking down on me.

I feel from your optimism that you to can embrace GA, you understanding of not being alone and hope each day you can say honestly that is who I was and Just for today I will not gamble.

John your prayer for my nan is appreciated, I pray often to her but am at peace she is in a better place now looking down on someone she loved and hoping he can continue to build his life in a structured manner.

Its one thing that gives me peace the fact I have hope and faith.

My name is Barrie, I am a compulsive gambler and just for today i will not gamble.

Best Wishes John look forward to hear from you soon


Thanks for the time you took to respond Barrie. It really is appreciated and has helped stay gamble free for the last 6 weeks! Actually since I first wrote this post. I think writing it has given me the opportunity to start my rehab even though I have been too fearful to go to a meeting. Not too fearful of what I might find in the meeting but what I will unearth in the back of my mind. So I am getting by every day without gambling which is great but I am also doing nothing about the healing process which will be required for me to be happy again. I have also disclosed with a dear friend what has been happening and that has helped greatly.

Anyway... still such a long way to go and I have been constantly tempted... (almost hourly as I have a bookies opposite my front door!) But so far I am doing the most important things. Staying out of the bookies, piecing my life back together, and still confiding in my friend. The real test will come along again when I feel in control and have some spare money in the bank account and think one little one wont hurt me.

Sorry for this late a garbled response but my head is still all over the place.

Hope you are also walking the narrow path and finding the strength to do every morning... from somewhere!

With warmth,


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