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my story
I think the most challenging thing for me is starting down this road is finding someone to talk to. Someone who understands that it's not just a case of stopping gambling, but it is stopping an addiction. It's not as easy as just going "right, I'm done gambling" and that's it. It's finding someone who can truly understand the range of emotions, the anger and frustration, the effort involved in trying to control it. That's what's been difficult for me because I never wanted to attend GA meetings.

I started when I was 18, just started working and had money to burn. I went to univeristy at 19 and as I live in Scotland as well as my tuition fees being paid I also got a loan and a bursay, the latter of which I didn't have to pay back. I only bet online, I think I've been in to an actual bookies maybe 4 times since I started. I actually have no idea what I'm doing in them but online it's just so easy - create account, deposit money, off you go. Its very easy to lose track. Not that I'm blaming anyone, it's always been my decision to start and to continue, to deposit, to chase losses. It's on me.

Started off with a small accumulator a week. Some wins, some losses but nothing too troubling as it was small money. Then I sunk in to the uni lifestyle; late nights, one class a day three times a week. And it changed from small amounts per week to the same per day. Staying up betting constantly throughout the day. Start with J-League football and move with the sun across the globe and end with MLS/S. American football. I'd create accounts with every online bookies, some times chancing my luck with duplicate accounts just for the sign up bonus. I'd win a bit, I'd lose some more. I'd get frustrated that I was sinking so much time in to researching bets only for them to fail and I'd be left unable to understand why. I would stay away from horse racing and tennis and golf, basically any sport where winning depended on a single person.

At 24 I graduated university with a meaningless degree and spent two years unemployed. I had to move back home with my parents. As I'm sure is the same for a lot of other people, the worse thing for me was time. My friends were moving on, getting jobs, having kids, getting married. I was feeling left behind. I developed a social anxiety as I was embarrassed at my situation compared to that of my friends and so stayed at home even more. The thought of having to go out and see these people, these people I had known for 10 years, nearer 20 in a couple of cases. I would gamble, and I would lose. Then I'd win some, withdraw my deposit so at least I could "end up even", then lose everything and deposit again as while the games I'd bet on were playing I was already researching my next bet and so was positive the next one would win, but the bets I had on lost so had to deposit as I was so sure the next would win. I ended up selling a whole load of my stuff just so I had money as JSA never covered my addiction despite me never going out. Birthdays and christmases I would ask for the most recent computer games or controllers, just as I knew I could sell them for money. It never became a case of 'what do I want' it was 'what can I sell for the most?'. Games, DVDs, consoles would all go. The one thing I am thankful for is that I never reached stealing from family members.

It got to the stage where I didn't even like gambling any more. I never watched the games I bet on, there was no enjoyment in it. It was just something to do to pass the time. It became such a routine. By this time I was becoming aware of my problem, of my addiction. I had self excluded myself from a lot of sites but there are ways around that. Not with all places but a lot of them. So with a different email address, different spellings/variations of my name and address and a new bank card and I was free to go again.

I finally got a job two years ago. It started off as part time, three to four days a week depending on shift availability. That kind of made it worse as I now had an income, I had a wage to spend. My friends were now long gone, reduced to sporadic texts and learning of their life through social media. So it continued. Six months later I was given a full time contract which I thought might help. I now had a job so was making plans - I was going to go on holiday, I was going to move out, I was going to lose weight, I was going to be better. I thought that I'd slip in to a normal routine, of working and sleeping. I wouldn't have time to bet as I wouldn't have time to research anything. That didn't work out. It just continued. And now I was earning a proper wage, so the amounts increased.

I would try to stop but I knew just stopping wouldn't work. That it is an addiction and the best route was to wean off. So I started paper betting. I wouldn't bet with money, just on paper. I would keep a running track of it so it was all there, figures and facts of how I was doing. Problem is I was doing well. I found myself winning more and more so I'd return to proper money, where I'd lose, chase and lose. I've joined online gambling communities where I've made online friends and spent a lot of time posting, which hasn't helped as I just end up getting sucked back in. I went on holiday for two weeks this year and stopped for that time, but as soon as I was back I started up again. I stopped again for two weeks in October but, again, that didn't last. I never admitted the extent of my problem to anyone. I'd lie about wins and never mention losses. I started seeing a girl 7 months ago and finally told her about it all, I know she doesn't completely understand the feelings of it but she's supportive.

I don't know how much I've lost over the last 10 years. I'm not even going to try and pretend it's not much, or it's just a little bit. But I'm going to stop. I've decided that I'm stronger than this. Yes, I've had a few false starts (I swore I'd stop almost every second day in November) but on the 30th November I placed my last bet. It's been a struggle so far, I thought it would get easier. I thought that after a while it'd become easy to ignore. I thought I could maybe do some paper betting, just to pass the time. But this weekend looking at my bets would have been a good weekend. A weekend good enough that I know would keep me going for months, that would feed my addiction for months as I could look back on it and go "yeah, but...". I know I'm going to have to stop paper betting too, it's not working. It's so easy to ignore the losses and focus on the wins, despite the first far outweighing the second.

So this is me. It's been 22 days since I last gambled. There have been days where I've become incredibly frustrated and angry that I couldn't get a bet on but I have shut down all my accounts.

You cannot control something that is out of control unless you stop it completely.

I cannot speak for you as I don't know your story entirely but it does sound similar to parts of mine. There was nothing that I tried to do, in order to stop gambling, that worked until I started attending GA meetings. Seems to me that nothing is working for you either.

Addictive behaviour is emotionally damaging. You mentioned that you haven't had a bet for 22 days and, although you haven't lost any money, do you really think that 'paper betting' is not betting? The act of gambling is just as mentally corrosive and in no way a start to anyone's recovery from gambling addiction.

At GA meetings I found people who truly understand me, they know my life-struggle, they know what I have been through and still go through on a daily basis. Everyone in GA 'speaks the same language'.

In your first paragraph you mentioned that you never wanted to attend GA meetings, by posting on here does that mean you will be?

If the answer is no, then all I would say is THE DOORS ARE ALWAYS OPEN!

You have nothing to lose. Consider this, GA offers a tried and tested way for the compulsive gambler to stop gambling. By rejecting/dismissing this opportunity to stop for good does that not show you how far under the control of this addiction you really are.

I thought I could 'do it' on my own and it took me 25 years before I reached out for help and found GA.

Big Dave
sudobox Wrote:That's what's been difficult for me because I never wanted to attend GA meetings

I was the same for a long time Sudo...
but like Dave rightly says the only requirement for GA membership is a desire to stop gambling...

Take care
In unity
Smartie xx

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