My journey

Hey,

I've been reading this forum for some time. Now I feel I should share my story, as it is, and hope that everyone's support will help me live one more day without gambling.

I'm 24 now and I've been gambling since 16/17. It all started with scratch cards at high school lunch break.. I'd buy a 5€ scratch card everyday maybe (which is already quite a lot for a high school student), but I got 50€ prize around three times even before I was 18. Then I turned 18, I went to college and I can't even tell how much I spent on scratch cards, lotto and occasionally casino with friends... I guess I was on the edge but it was not really a problem back then.

Three years ago, online casinos started being legal again in my country and were heavily advertised everywhere... I signed up on one and that's where the problem really began. I spent all my savings in 3 months. My parents didn't realise I was so fucked up because they've always trusted me and all money was in my name. Now the worst part, I borrowed money from the bank for an expensive course in my field (I guess I'll never know if I intended from the beginning to use the money to feed my addiction) and well, the money was given to me in two moments (separeted by 6 months), and both times I managed to spend it all in days...

At this moment I had to tell my father. He was scared but I guess he didn't want to admit his son had a problem, so we didn't even talk about it afterwards... I use his credit card to play from time to time, then make something up and deep down he knows I relapsed but prefers not to talk about it. I also didn't tell him it was a casino addiction, I made some forex shit up because I thought he would forgive me easier.. "You know, it was just a bad investment"... At that point I had lost all my savings and this money I borrowed from the bank (which Im still paying and will pay for 10 years) and I was doing Erasmus in a city with a small casino every corner.. You can guess my Erasmus wasn't the normal Erasmus experience... Although I made some friends and surprisingly did all the subjects I should at the university, I was spending all my money on this shitty casinos alone playing slots and roulette... I even started working (which was good also to practice the language and stuff) to have money to spend. I would work 10 hours shifts and then blow all the money I earned in 20 minutes. Crazy...

Now I'm done with studying and I'll start working in two months, a great job, well paid (the recruitment process was really long and even included psychological tests and stuff.. I'm so surprised they didn't find out how messed up I am). And well, I know I have to fix my addiction if I want to have a great life.. Otherwise I'll just blow my paycheck in casinos all the time (and it won't matter that the job is well paid). I know it's a condition for life and that there's no cure, I can just hope I'm able to be abstinent for the longest time possible.

Now that I shared my story I just wanted to share what this addiction has taken away from me. I isolated myself from a lot of university friends (when I came from Erasmus the dynamics of the friendships were different and I didn't even bother to try to fit in and keep my closest friends near me), now I just have some friends from high school that I really love and I think love me back, although they don't know about my addiction. The addiction also had a great impact on my grades. I started university being probably in the top 10% and when I started playing online my grades dropped immediately and I was maybe in the worst 30%, barely managing to pass the exams. Gambling also took all happiness from my life. I'm sad most of the time, I think about suicide (but just abstract thoughts, not something to be worried about), but what's really overwhelming is this shame and regret.

Now I also wanted to share the reasons why I gamble. Ive been reading a lot about this addiction lately and it seems it's associated with severe psychiatric disorders or with other addictions (alcohol, drugs). Well, I smoke indeed, but I just drink socially, I tried weed but I don't even like it and in the hope I'm not bipolar, schizophrenic or something like that, let me tell you what I think made me be an addict. Firstly, a huge pressure from my parents to be the best in every field of my life. It was not an evident pressure, I mean, they would use manipulation and brain games, they'd show disappointment etc. Then, the fact that I'm gay and never told anyone (those close high school friends know although I never had "the conversation"). The weight I carry, the fear of coming out to my parents, I don't know, I guess deep inside in my brain I thought if I win big ill not be a disappointment, a failure.

Now, what can I do to be psychologically prepared to deal with this addiction? Tell my close friends about the problem (I think they would support me but I don't see how that would help), tell my parents really what happened and come out? I can't even imagine how much they would suffer. Maybe do some therapy? Go to GA meetings? I thought about emailing them asking to find a sponsor for me so that I could talk with someone before attending a meeting, is it a good idea?

Well, regardless of what I'll tell my significant people, internally I know I'm an addict and I have to deal with it! I put limits on all accounts and I'll live day by day, and more important, count the days. Today is day 1 (or day 0, since I just gambled?).

Sorry for writing so much. Maybe the text doesn't even make much sense as I was writing as things came to my mind. I'll try to update how my recovery is going and thank you in advance for all the support I'm sure I'll get from this community.

Regards,

Kolberg


Hello and thanks for starting a thread in the Gambling Therapy forums


Here at Gambling Therapy we pride ourselves on being a caring and diverse online community who can help and support you with the difficulties you’re currently facing. We understand that this might be a tough time for you, particularly if you’re new to recovery, so come here as often as you need to and participate in the forums, access online groups and connect to the live advice helpline if you need one to one support. We’re in this together!


Here on the forum you can share your experiences in a safe, supportive and accepting environment. The beauty of writing it all down is that you can take your time and you will be creating a record of your progress that you can look back on if it ever feels like you’re not moving forward. So, share as much or as little as you like but do try to stick to keeping just one thread in this forum so people know where to find you if they want to be updated on your progress or share something with you.


As well as the forums New Members are invited to join Charles in the New Members Practical Advice Group On Mondays at 21:00 (UK) and Thursday at 19:00(UK)


And on that note....


I’m going to hand you over to our community because I’m sure they will have some words of wisdom for you :-)


Take care


The Gambling Therapy Team



PS: Let me just remind you to take a look at our privacy policy and terms and conditions so you know how it all works!


and thank you for expressing your thoughts.

I read your account with interest - for such a young person you have obviously done some analysis of your situation.

To answer your questions - should you tell close friends? Part of the gambling psyche is to keep things as secret as possible - so admitting we are gamblers not just to ourselves but to others is something that we are encouraged to do. Yes they may just shrug and not take it any further - but it will also help you to remember that you are "different" from others and when you say that you don't want to join them in a casino or racetrack - you then don't have to explain why.


As regards GA - emailing or phoning to speak to someone first is a good first step. I spoke to someone on the phone before my first meeting and it helped to give me the confidence to go (and to help me see that I belonged there!) That is different to a sponsor though - I think a sponsor is someone you have a longer relationship with, within the fellowship and should be someone you choose when you have got to know people a bit better.

Therapy? Having professional support can be life-changing - but again I feel the relationship is the key, so you may want to shop around if you can. It will help to look at some of the underlying issues and be another tool in your recovery.

Stopping gambling is the beginning of the journey, staying stopped is more difficult and that is where the support will be needed. You have made a great start by coming here and telling us your story. I hope you can get the support to move forwards.


Thank you for your words. 


In fact I admitted to myself that I'm an addict and that I need to find a way to stay away from gambling a long time ago. Perhaps the key to success is letting the shame go and admit to others that I have a problem. It's just so hard to do it, to think that theyll look at me in a different way, maybe with pity, it would be hard...


Regarding GA meetings that's also one of my fears, don't belonging there. Maybe it's just my brain trying to stop me from admitting to others that I'm an addict, to put myself in a weak position. 


Indeed, it's so discouraging to look back at my 100s of unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling, also to read the stories around here of people that after years clean relapse... One thinks it's impossible to stop.


<p>I'm really ready to stop gambling, I got paid today from a week of work and I am broke again, I lost my whole check within a hour, I need to pay for a very important item for my life and I'm afraid that I won't get it bc every dollar I get I go gamble it. I know that I have to pay for this item, and I have a problem, I even got angry with my father for telling me the truth and I never disrespect him and I hung up on him and I have to stop before it is too late, my life is falling apart and I don't want it to I really just need some help&nbsp;</p>


but you really need to start your own thread - if you want to get replies from people.  Your comment will be a bit lost here.  In the meantime, read around the site - there are a lot of answers here.


I'm not sure if I have to key to success but I have not gambled for several years and if you take out the two or three slips along the way - then I have not gambled for over 20 years. Of course I could gamble again next week - but I doubt it.


I will write more on my own thread - but admitting to others that I had a problem with gambling DID make a difference and I think you need all the tools you can use to beat this. For the gambler - gambling is the whole world - it is an enormous part of our lives.  Other people hardly think about it - so when you tell someone, thinking it is a big thing, they will probably go - "oh ok then."


As for GA - it is not for everyone. I was attending very regularly for several years and it slowed my gambling right down, at one point I was clean for 3 years. If I was gambling compulsively I would be back there like a shot. Again, the only way to find out if it will work for you is to try it. I mean really try it - not just go once and not take anything in ... try three or four meetings in different locations if you can - they are all different. People do stop with using other support, counselling, other addiction sites, but GA is tailored for gamblers and there is a wealth of experience in the rooms. You say you have tried to stop 100s of times - so obviously what you have been doing hasn't worked - maybe it is time to step outside your comfort zone?


It's so hard to step outside one's comfort zone!! But yes, telling my close friends and parents would be at the same time a load taken off my chest and bringing some truth into my life. I'll think what's the best way to mention the topic (maybe not telling them all details or how big the financial hole is).


Right now I'm living in a small town without GA, but in September I'll move to the capital for this new job and then I'll give it a try. It would be awesome if I could stay away from gambling these two months. I could be enjoying summer, going out, chilling, but the few friends I have work, have their lives, and it's been a bit hard to just wait alone... I guess loneliness in my case is both a cause and an effect of my addiction. I do hope this new job will bring some new friendships, and even living in the capital I want to do volunteering, language courses, have things in my life other than gambling. I know I should keep the expectations low, but hoping for a better future is good for the recovery, I think. 


You don't have to wait until you move to learn languages.  There are plenty of sites on-line which are free and some universities around the world have free courses too.  I am currently trying to improve my French with DuoLingo and I have used courses with Future learn as well.  I believe you can find other people on the community part of italki who will swop time with you on Skype so that they can learn your language in exchange for you learning theirs ... Go to the community tab - rather than paying for a teacher.  That might be a great way of meeting friends on-line but could get costly if you get whisked off to Brazil.


That's true... I'll download those apps and really focus on learning positive things.


Ok, so considering 18th of July was day 0, today is day 3 gambling free! It's been fairly easy till now, I know the most difficult part is yet to come. Friday I went out with some friends to a place I really wanted to go to (although they didn't want to go in the first place, then wanted to, then not wanted to, blablabla - that instability made me sad and think a bit about how I feel lonely and how I don't have true friends but at the end they came with me and it was fun). Yesterday I went to a concert with the same group of friends, we had bought the tickets long ago. I mentioned my gambling problem. Not directly but I did mention quite a few times "I have to stop gambling", "I have a gambling problem", "I can't buy btc because that activates my addiction neural circuits"... So I guess they understood,but as you mentioned Steve, for them it was not a big deal. Probably they just think I'm overreacting because I didn't tell them how much I spent or how much that screwed up my life, but still, it was good to talk about it. I also came out to them, they were so supportive and it felt good to know that it doesn't really matter to them that I'm gay or straight or wtv. Next step would be telling my parents both things, but that will be way more difficult.

So Friday and Saturday were very nice, I felt happy. Today though I wook up sad, as a week where I don't have much planned is coming. It would be good to find a job for the summer, but as I will be abroad one week in August no one would give me a job. So I guess I will have to find stuff to do like learning, reading, walking... This month and a half till the new job is going to be one of the toughest times in my life. I try to focus on the future though, imagining the happy life I'll have :) Today I'm not gambling!


I think - "I have a gambling problem," is pretty direct.  It is good to let people know and it will help in the future I am sure.  Yes  keep as busy as you can.  One thing that can help is voluntary work - even if it is only for a few days.  If you do something that might be helpful in your future career and / or something that is fun to do - then it is a good way of spending time and you may make new friends!  Just ensure that there is no gambling around!  Have a good gambling free week and well done on your 3 days!


So it's the beginning of day 6. Everything is normal, I don't feel any urges but I don't have money to gamble nor the possibility to do it (at least online - since i put really small limits). Still, if I felt like this all the time it would be so easy to quit gambling.


I've just finished Allen Carr's book. Well, it's a new approach and although i kept an open mind and will see things as he exposes on the book, I think it's way too optimistic and it doesn't work.. I'll give it a try and it was worth reading though.

Does anyone have suggestions on stuff to read or see (related to gambling or not)?


Hi Kolberg

I recommend you check out SMART recovery tools.

Go to the USA site - the U.K. one charges for everything!


Thanks, I'll check it out :)


10 days GF. I don't have much money to gamble anyway. I believe something's different now and that this time is for real though!!


I'm a bit drunk now since I went out with some friends, but I still feel digusted about gambling and wouldn't gamble even if I had the money or if it was possible (I set very low limits in all sites I used).


Yay Kolberg!!! Ten days is something to be proud of. Keep putting those strategies to work and before you know it, you will have 10 times that amount of days.


RG


Thanks RG :)

Day 12!! As I wrote, I was afraid this Summer was going to be really hard to me, since I don't have much to do and I'm just waiting to start this new job in September.

Actually it has been easier than I thought. I've played music for many years (at least I've got one hobby that survived this addiction) and yesterday I had a concert and it was so nice to play, I really loved it. Today I'll drink some beer in the afternoon with friends and then have dinner, so I guess it will be fun and gambling will be out of my mind for a few moments. Isn't it crazy that I've thought about gambling every single day of my life in the last 3 years?

Well, I feel normal now, not too sad, not too happy. Actually next week I'll travel to one of this all inclusive hotels with nice beaches and swimming pools with family (cousins, aunts, parents, etc) and I'm sure it will be really funny and I won't think about gambling for sure.

Best thing is that when I come back I will have crossed the 21 days mark, which is technically the amount of time needed to "forget" an habit. With gambling it's different, I know, since some gamble once a month (payday) and have obviously a problem. It's still a benchmark I'm looking forward to achieve and I guess it won't be that hard since I'll be abroad and having a really nice time with my family.

I'm so grateful for the family I have. Regardless of everything, I feel unconditional love from them.

Thank you all for the support, specially Steev :)


Beginning of day 15 :)


Today I felt kind of low... I don't know exactly why, it's not even the regret about the mistakes I've made (I'm not thinking about gambling that much), I guess it's the loneliness, but at the same time when I get the chance to be with people I tend to prefer to be by myself.

For example today friends that I don't see that often invited me to hang out but I made up some excuse and didn't go.

Should I force myself to go in such circumstances (as it eventually turns out to be funny and good for me)?

As said, I'm going abroad in a few days with family and I'm very excited about it, I hope it swings my mood and let's me live a happy remaining August till I finally start this new challenging job in September.


I wish all the best to everyone (and of course to myself)! Take care


Now that would be good. Sometimes I have gone out with friends when I didn't feel like it - and was glad I did. Sometimes I went out with them and wish I hadn't. I think all you can do is what feels right for you at the time.

We all have low mood some of the time - it is natural and it will pass. We can't always be on a high ... Having said that, it is useful to look at yourself when you are having the low mood - so sort of think "oh Kolberg is pretty low this morning, I wonder what that is about?" and try and work out what is going on for you. Often I find out that what I am mistaking for feeling low - is just being in a different, quieter space and eventually that lifts and I find I need to be around people again.

Great that you are looking forwards to being with family. Great that you are having no gambling thoughts. You are doing really well. Keep strong!


Hey,

Thank you for your words Steev. Listening to our inner voice is the most important thing. Figuring out why we feel low, or high or what's going on is the key! But it's so hard.

Anyway, I just came home from the vacations, they weren't as amazing and healing as I thought they would be. Spending 24h/day with my family was a bit overwhelming and I thought about gambling and the mistakes I've made way more than I intended to. That's not bad, as long as it makes us learn that gambling is an illusion, is stupid, is pointless. But it's frustrating wanting to enjoy the beach, a beer, and our mind is constantly punishing us for the things we've made.

Well, I feel this time is for real. I'm on day 24 and I'll keep counting the days, and I can never forget that this addictive behaviour is for life, and that one bet is enough to lose control of everything.

Good luck to everyone trying to beat this terrible monster and take care :)


Well, reading what I wrote on Sunday is ironical, since that night I went to the casino with friends and gambled... I won some money and that was the beggining of a tragical week... I set 10€ limit per month in every website where I have an account (probably 10 websites), so it was really easy next day to blow everything I won and more. The worst was that I found a website where I didn't put a limit so I gambled a lot of money, and the worst is that the money was not mine.

This is exactly what I meant before in this thread. It will never stop, it's relapses after relapses until suicide, hospital, jail or miserable life.

I'm not giving up though, it's just two weeks now till the new job, new city, new friends, new life.

For now, what I can say is that today (Saturday) is day 3. I didn't even want to come here and admit I let this happen, I'm so sad, so disappointed. I guess I'll have to take what happened as a lesson that one bet is enough to ruin everything. Deep down I knew it, it was just the gambler inside me desperately trying to feed the addiction.


That's the first thing you must realize, Kolberg. Nothing good will come from beating yourself up, so let us try and look at some positive things:


1. You admitted to yourself and this forum that you had a relapse. I know some people wouldn't have the courage to do so, so well done to you.


2. A relapse can always teach you something new, or at the very least remind you of something crucial that you had forgotten. So try to dig inside and find whatever wisdom you can extract from this. And then use it to set up further barriers.


3. You have put limits to your casino accounts. The positive way is to say that at least you had put limits on them - although I would suggest completely excluding yourself. Maybe this relapse is for you to realize that you need to exclude yourself, rather than put limits. And maybe the fact that you "only" put limits rather than exclusion from casinos is a sign that you are not ready yet to give this addiction up COMPLETELY. I hope you get what I mean.


I wish you the best of luck on your "journey" with the new job and city!


- Chris


Hey Chris,


Thank you for your words. We must indeed look at the positive side of it. 


I excluded myself from all online casinos (in my country you can do it in just one government site). It was so simple, I wondered why I didn't do it before.. Like 2/3 years ago... I wouldn't be in debt, might have lost some money but not in the extent I did.


Anyway, as you said, what's done is done.


And as Chris says the best you can do it to learn from it. You know now that even winning will lead to more gambling - so chasing losses was not the problem - chasing winnings? You also know that just being in a casino was too much. You need to be clear to friends that you do not gamble and therefore going to a casino is not for you.


Soon you will have a new life - deliberately make that a gamble free life. There are people out there who do not gamble, not because they have a problem with it, but for moral reasons. Maybe they do not want to support the gambling industry. Maybe they have been hurt by gambling in the family are ex-partners of or children of problem gamblers. Maybe they don't gamble for religious or ethical reasons - that in order for me to win at gambling means that others have to lose - so that I am complicit in their misery.


The point that I am trying to make is that when you have your new life - people don't need to know the reason for you not gambling - just be firm that gambling is not for you.


I wish you well.


Hey Steev,


I will make it a gamble free life!


Regards


Self excluding myself was the best thing I've done. I stopped receiving emails, sms, even less Facebook and Instagram ads, I think.


Now it's just dealing with the consequences of the last relapse, but I'm so relieved that I won't spend one more euro in online casinos. It's such a great feeling.


Hi man. You are still very young. Take this chance to change your life. I  am 29 and I am facing similar situation to your situation.



Blessings my friend!  I will continue watching your progress!


Hey,


Thanks, I do want to change my life. And I will!


I wish you all the best and will watch your progress on your journal too


It seems it was so long ago but just a week passed. Not receiving emails, sms and ads from online casinos has been so nice.

A boss of a previous summer work texted me and I worked today and will work a few more days till the end of August. It was so nice working hard for money. Plus I got a 10€ tip and was so happy about it. Slowly I think I'm respecting money again.

After work some friends of mine called me while they were playing cards for money and whilst before I'd want to know who was winning, who was losing and how much, today I just said I didn't care. They don't play often, but I just hope I find the strength to just watch the next time I'm with them and they play (some of my friends are with them and don't play, so technically I would just have to join those). I know it will be hard to refuse, and I also know that sooner or later I'll be with them and they will ask me if I want to play. Does Anyone have advice on how to deal with it?

Regards,

Kolberg


I think it would be better if you don't go. Maybe you can tell them that you don't like playing that and therefore you're gonna get bored if you go.



Anyway, Someone who has had this experience can tell  you more suggestions.



Your recovery is the most important thing to you at the moment and should not be put at risk.  I think that watching card games for money is risky and playing is even riskier.  Win or lose it might be all you need to start gambling again.  Please find an excuse not to go.  A dodgy stomach is always a good one for me.  Look after yourself you only have a few more days to go before your new life.  Don't blow it.


Hey Steev,


Thank you for your words. Indeed it's better not to go, but I never know when they ll decide to ask for cards at a coffee shop and play. I could try to persuade them not to, but it's never certain.


Anyway, today I've been thinking precisely about that. I think I'll let these people go as I start my new life in 2 weeks. I don't mean no contact at all, but realise they re not that important and try to find more supportive, nicer friends in the city I'm moving to. Of course I'll see them once in a while, but I get the impression that their friendship is not that genuine.


Regards,


Kolberg


Today was an odd day... I did the afternoon shift yesterday and the morning shift today in this summer job. I didn't sleep much because I had to come home, sleep and go work again all in 8 hours and it was a bit tiring. The job implies speaking and hanging around with lots of people from all over the world, so although it is a bit though sometimes, I get to know amazing people.

Anyway, in the afternoon I was with my parents and a friend of them, and this friend was telling all this stories about army, war, dictatorship, etc, and I was really emotional (like patriotism, empathy and a lot of sadness together). It was really touching my heart and I had to make an effort not to cry in the coffee shop. This leads me to the thing I wanted to talk about: we say men don't cry, it's a lie obviously, but i personally can't cry alone. Sometimes I even feel I want to let it all out, burst into tears, but it seems my ego is too strong to let it happen. It's strange, but I just wanted to share this thought.

Im doing my best to be in the good path! Regards,

Kolberg


I nearly cried when I was in a cafe in Paris the other day, because it felt so perfect to be there. I didn't cry because I find it hard to cry in public.

We are all different!


We are indeed!


I'm just said I'm different than most people because I'm a gambling addict. Why did it take so long to really assume it and take effective measures against this monster?


Anyway, now I'm all set to become a better version of myself. I know that expecting too much will lead to disappointment, but I cant avoid doing it. 


Regarding crying, it's just that I feel that if I cried it all, this horrible sadness would go away. There's still regret, shame, etc, but sadness is definitely the most intense emotion I'm feeling right now... Maybe I'm depressed and should get professional help, but I guess I'll wait a couple of weeks and see if the new routine will help me feel better.


Hi Kolberg

There appears to be a lot of positive change in your life.

Many people experience a period of withdrawal after giving up gambling - this may be what you are experiencing.

Be kind to yourself .


Hi IDI, 


Thank you for your words. Yes, maybe that's it, I'm really confused about the feelings I have towards people near me. I'm apparently calm, but my emotions are a mess. As I said earlier, I will start a new job on the 2nd of September and that will be already a big change in my life. Besides that I'm effectively doing my best to stop gambling, which is also a change. So I guess its normal to be confused, to feel weird stuff. I'll just wait and try to address the feelings one by one and find the best way to deal with them. 


Regards, 


Kolberg


Kolberg

I cannot believe I am giving you this advice but I have never seen the point of counselling - until

This past two weeks as I have actually had a few sessions .

I think we mask a lot of issues (they don’t have to be huge issues) with gambling and when we stop we are forced to face relationships etc.

Perhaps counselling would be useful for you right now so you have a release for the things which gambling was masking .

Think about it .


Ps I do video counselling which is very convenient and private .


Thanks for the suggestion IDI, but for now I won't do counseling, although I want to do it in the near future.

In my case, I think most of the issues have to do with my sexual orientation and the lack of support I have from my parents, even if it's just some things they say sometimes regarding gays, it frightens me to know that one day I will have to tell them. Also, a friend who I think I'm in love with is sending me super mixed signals, and that is where the emotional mess is coming from. Anyway, gambling was maybe an escape from all this, I don't know. I'm dealing ok with having quit gambling for 15 days though... An occasional thought now and then, still sad and depressed, but once again, not directly related to gambling.

Thank you for the support and I wish you all the best.

Kolberg


New life starts tomorrow! I'm so excited... I stopped counting the days since I've bought some lotto tickets etc... I know I really should become abstinent but it's so hard with shops everywhere that sell lotto and scratch cards.

I'm feeling normal... Not too low, not too high, except for being super excited for this new job that starts tomorrow.

All the best to you all.

Regards,

Kolberg


I am happy for your new life Kolberg.



And congratulations for your new job, it is a new beginning. Keep abstent of gambling!


Hey everyone,

It's been two interesting weeks... We tend to think that new beginnings are the solution to all problems. Well, obviously it's not. Although I'm enjoying this new part of my life, I feel I have a lot of issues to deal with...

I had an event where I needed the help of people and most of my closest friends failed me. Everything went all right since we had help from other people, but don't having them there made me feel abandoned. I felt they just care about me when they need someone to drink beer with. And that's sad...

About gambling, I blocked myself from all online casinos and that's the best decision I've made. I've bought some lotto tickets and scratch cards, I know I shouldn't do it, but I'm not spending too much money.

Well, I felt I needed to come by and tell you how things are going. To sum up, still depressed, lonely, but hoping for a better future, which will certainly come.

Regards,

Kolberg


It is good to hear from you - although a little sad to hear your situation.


Lonliness and depression can be a bit of a "catch 22" - in that if I am depressed I don't feel I want to go out and meet people - but then if I don't go and meet people I will be lonely...  And thinking "who would want to be with me when I am depressed anyway?


It might be an idea to visit a medic - as sometimes depression can have a physical cause and it would be as well to check that out.  They may recommend counselling - and that is something that you might be able to access at University (where you are now - right?) so check there.


We all have life problems - gambling just adds to them and masks some of the ones that we need to be dealing with.  For instance we can kid ourselves that we have a social life because we are out every night to all hours - whereas of course in reality we are not connecting with any of the people we meet - indeed they becoming annoying because they are distracting us from our gambling.


Get good support - find a community to belong to.  Give it time - you will make friends and hopefully then the blues will lift.  I wish you well.


Hey Steev, 


I think you made a very good point with this sentence "We all have life problems - gambling just adds to them and masks some of the ones that we need to be dealing with".


In fact gambling had the most catastrophic impact in my life, but it's just a sign that I had a lot of issues to deal with. I'm trying to do it on my own, work on these issues, I'm even hiding it from my closest friends, but this weekend was so tragic that I couldn't fake it anymore and hit rock bottom in front of everyone (like completely apathetic in a bar while we hang out). It was good to see who cared and who didn't... Some of them texted me afterwards "you didn't seem OK, what happened?", others didn't even bother, and that made me feel even worse.


Now I know I won't be able to fight the addiction until I fix my psychological mess. I definitely need help. Will see what to do...


Regards, 


Kolberg


Hi Kolberg, you have not posted lately? Hope all is well from your end.


Hey jemma, 


Well, I feel some tiny improvements, although I have to make a huge effort every time I pass by a store where I can get scratch cards or lotto. And last weekend I went to the casino with friends and spent 100€... Not as bad as when I would gamble online, but still bad and a sign that fighting the urges is still hard to me. 


I still feel depressed, feel my life is pointless, feel I will end up alone, but at the same time I see some light and I'm very grateful that this horrible addiction hit me when I'm young and still able to recover financially.


I'm on a day by day basis. At work I'm in a super homophobic environment, which makes it hard for me to come out. A colleague is gay (and everyone knows) and God knows what he suffers... I haven't seen such kind of bullying in a long time. Apart from that I'm making good and supportive friends, who I'm sure will support me when I eventually come out.


To sum up, things are a bit better but still a long way to go to recover some of the psychological health gambling took away and to fix the issues that led me to being addicted to gambling in the first place. 


Thanks for asking how things are going. I wish you all the best. 


Regards, 


Kolberg


One month later and nothing changed. I just came back from the casino, lost 100€, I've been buying lotto tickets and scratch cards almost every day.


I still feel my mental health is not in the best shape and I'm too lazy to do something about it... When I'm not at work I'm playing blackjack and roullete with virtual money and on Instagram or Facebook jealous of my "friends" who appear to have a normal life. My performance at work is still not so bad but in January I'll have more responsabilities and I'll have to focus and not just think about gambling. Today at the afternoon my colleagues started talking about going to the casino and I couldn't think about anything else. If this happens in January onwards I won't certainly be able to meet the standards I'm supposed to.


I'm just lost, I know what I should do (GA meetings, counceling, etc) but for some reason I take the easiest route, which is continue living miserably, depressed, with no money at the end of the month.


I just can't accept I'll be an addict for the rest of my life. Why me?


I hope you are all making progress. Regards,


Kolberg


Gambling is playing some sort of positive role in your life at the moment, that is why it is not easy to stop. But you are right it is the easiest route, but like someone who binges on fast food instead of going on a decent diet, it is unhealthy and will prove disastrous over time.


I felt that when I was gambling after having been to GA and knowing what it was doing to me ... when I was gambling with knowledge - that, that was when it felt like self-harm. I knew I was hurting myself with each coin I threw away - and yet I still couldn't stop.


I don't know if you have been to a GA meeting or counselling session yet. If you haven't then that initial getting over the doorstep is daunting ... Maybe just phoning and talking to someone would be enough to start with and work your way up to a face to face meet. I know I have said this before - but talking to a doctor about your depression might be a good move - there may be a physical cause and just getting to a point where you can face going to counseling, etc would be a great step forward.


Finally, I used to think " why me" when I was struggling to control my gambling. Now I think "why me" because of my health problems. Not that they are so bad - there are people out there with much worse who cope. It isn't what happens to you that makes you who you are - it is how you react to it. Go well my friend.


Thank you for your words. You're such an inspiration to me, a proof that it's possible to stay away from this gambling world.


Well, I kind of get why you say gambling is playing a positive role in my life at the moment. If I had always gambled like I do now I wouldnt be in this forum for sure. Online casinos screwed my life, I gambled all my savings away and have a gambling debt for 10 years to come (I intend to pay it off before, but still). Now that I self excluded myself from all legal online casinos I'm much safer. 


I just can't live with the regret of having spent so much money, and deep down I know I don't have any control or limits. If I were alone at the casino today I would have spent probably 300/400€ easily. So, I know I have to quit, I know I'm harming myself and digging a bigger hole each time I place a bet.


I haven't been to any GA meeting or done counselling. In my country or at least in my social circle, mental health is not yet openly talked about. A couple of months ago someone said in the TV that the voters of a political party here are all "urban depressed", meaning they live in the suburbs and have this depressing 9 to 5 jobs, 1 hour commute, etc. Last week, as kind of a joke, I said to my parents that I feel "urban depressed" (since I'm living in the capital and basically waking up early, going by metro to work, coming back, etc). My mum said immediately "no you re not, don't say that". I would expect normal parents from 1st world countries to try to understand why their son said that (even if he was "joking") and if everything is allright (specially my dad, that knows I have a problem). But no, they just pretend everything's perfect.


Im just once again trying to blame others for my lack of reaction. I don't need my parents to go to a GA meeting or find a counsellor. But this mindset of "only crazy people do counselling" is present in my country and maybe that's why I don't act. 


Thanks once again for your words. Take care


Okay - let us look at what you are saying:

"I just can't live with the regret of having spent so much money, and deep down I know I don't have any control or limits."


But you are living with that regret - you are coping, you are functioning. The regret can be replaced with optimism for the future - once you start addressing your problems. Also you have admitted that you have a gambling problem. A great first step - but you need to go further and address this. Read the other stories here - of long-term debt, bankruptcy. suicide attempts, prison, homelessness ... is that what you want?


"In my country or at least in my social circle, mental health is not yet openly talked about."


You don't need to talk about it. You do need to act. If you go to a doctor / counsellor / GA it will be confidential.

This is your future - you need to start taking control of it.


"only crazy people do counselling"

Crazy is just a word ... it means nothing. Replace it with "only hurting people do counselling" or "only people who care enough about themselves and their mental health do counselling." "only people who want a positive future for themselves do counselling."


You are making out that your country does not support people with problems and yet you have already told us that GA and counselling does exist there. The resources are there to be used - but only you can do this - it is all in your hands.


"You're such an inspiration to me, a proof that it's possible to stay away from this gambling world."


But I didn't get to this point without doing some hard work. I talked to helplines, went to meetings, sat in counselling rooms, took self-improvement classes. I put as much effort (if not more) into my recovery as I put into my gambling. It was an all out assault to defeat this behaviour. Don't just use me as inspiration - use me as a role model for what you can do to change your behaviour and start leading a gamble free life.


After you have read this post - pick up the phone - talk to someone, a counsellor, a GA member, your doctor, a helpline and take that next step. I look forward to reading about it in your next post.


Hello everyone,


I havent posted in ages, but since i came to the forum I thought it would be nice to write an update on my recovery.

Gamblingwise, the quarantene has been good to me. Casinos are closed and Im banned on every legal online casino in my country so there's no way to gamble. Honestly since I dont have the opportunity I dont even think about gambling, but i know the evil voice is there just waiting. I have been able to save so much money. Im living at my parent's due to the quarantene so I havent spent much. Ive also almost quit smoking since I dont like to smoke in front of them.


It all seems nice, but the problem is I feel in prison and im afraid of my actions when i move out again, which will be real soon, since I will have to work at the office soon. Although casinos will not be opened yet, there will be lotto and scratch cards in every corner.

I feel i could have used this time in the coutryside much better and wiser. Ive simply lost 2 months of my life to netflix, shitty online games and reality shows. I could have taken the time to learn something new or to sort out some family issues with my parents, namely my dad ignoring my gambling addiction despite knowing about it. I feel like the child who prefered to be punished, do you know what I mean?


Besides all that I still feel lonely, a bit depressed, lacking meaningful connections to significant people. I feel I have no one who I can talk to about serious subjects and worse than that, I feel I will never have.


Thanks for reading and I hope you are all safe.

Regards,


Kolberg


I remember once being in a plant nursery and being shown around by one of the staff and he took some small seedlings out to show me and said that they were being nourished whilst they healed (from frost or something) and when they were stronger they would be planted out - where they would flourish.


I sometimes thing we are like that. There are times when we have to take time out to heal - and there are times when we can move forwards and flourish. I think the important step is to know when to step outside.


Watching netflix and reality shows might be part of your healing - it is what your mind needed then and you allowed yourself to do it. Now you are questioning it - perhaps it is time to move forward.


At this time of lock-down, virtually everything is on-line - so decide what you want to do and make it happen. Charles has started a thread on this forum on things to do whilst stuck at home - try some things out.


Making meaningful connections might take more time - but I am sure through social media and forums you can find people with the same interests as you to "chat" with - perhaps with a view to meeting up for real when this lock-down is over.


I think this enforced period of sobriety will work in your favour, you know you can't go back to gambling - even scratch cards and raffle tickets are a no-no for a non-gambler as you now are. Find those interests and indulge them. Enjoy the life you deserve Kolberg! I wish you well.


Hey Steev,


Your words are always so inspiring. You're right, this period of sobriety has been really good to me. I could for the first time in years save some money and paid (and cancelled) the 2 credit cards I had (it was not much but still, they were always maxed out). I still owe a lot of money to the bank but thankfully the interest is low and i can pay it comfortably for the next years. I've also been thinking of doing the course I was going to start a few years ago (but didn't because I gambled all the money away).


It's incredible how long it takes a gambling addict to recover financially (not to write about the psychological recovery) but I'm glad to see I'm finally recovering at least financially.


I'll move forward! I'm strong. About the meaningful connections I guess I have to like myself before others do. It's hard though.


Thanks for your words Steev. Take care!


Regards,


Kolberg


Hey evereyone,

I hope you are all doing well.

Last week I was discussing with coworkers that gambling addiction is the worst addiction because it's invisible and it can take everything away from you.

They strongly disagreed and think that drug addiction is the worst, because although the damage is physically visible, if you fall in this addiction, you will always get ways to use and even isolate yourself if people around you try to help you.

So, although the coworkers I was discussing with dont know about my problem, I think they made a really good point that led me to other thoughts. I have to be positive. Things like "Of all the addiction, mine is the worst" are not acceptable and dont help us recover. I have to fight back and stop feeling sorry for myself. Im alive, I have a job (which I wouldnt have if I was a drug addict), I can pay the gambling debt smootlhy to the bank.

I know all the suffering this devil has caused, I know about the health issues I will certainly have in the future due to the stress and cigaretes. But it could be much worse. Im fortunate to be young enough to have the chance to make things right. And for that Im grateful

I wish you well.


Thanks for your insightful post. I think you worked things out for yourself there - that it isn't a question of one addiction being worse than the other - it is about how deep you get hooked and when you come out of it. Being as young as you are will hopefully mean that some of the financial and physical problems that have affected me in later life will not apply to you.

When I first qualified as a counsellor - I wanted to work with addiction (as I thought I knew more about it) but felt I couldn't work with gamblers because of being triggered by other's stories. So I worked with families and friends of heroin users and through the training and insights from parents and partners, I saw the hell that hard drugs can cause. The change in the personality of the user and the lies and deceits were common to both addictions - but I think (I never checked this out) that the families would have taken gambling addiction over heroin.

One tragedy was a local drugs helpline member, an ex-user, WAS (I guess) triggered by some of the stories he was hearing and used just once and died. He had forgotten that the dose he was taking in the past - was now lethal to an ex user (he had been clean for several years.) Relapses are seldom fatal to gamblers - at least not immediately!

I think learning about our addictions will hopefully prevent us from falling into the trap again with other substances or behaviours - but if my weight is anything to go by, I need to do something about my eating habits!

Glad that you are still posting your thoughts and wishing you well in your recovery.


Hi Kolberg, glad to read that you are well and finding new insights to understand the situation you are in. Stay strong and make use of these new perspectives not to relax (as there are worse behaviors out there) but to remind you that it’s not the end of the world and as you have said that we are still young to make things right. I totally understand the value of new perspectives, it makes things a bit lighter and reassuring that we are not trapped...there’s a way out!


Hey everyone,


First of all thank you Steev and JimRuggel for your words.


Well, today someone famous in my country commited suicide. I checked his instagram and he had so many recent posts with friends, family, always smiling.


That was so terrifying to me, seeing all those happy pictures of a perfect life. It showed me how strong we pretend we are, and how dangerous that is. I've already thought of suicide, not really a solid idea, but more like "I wish I do not wake up tomorrow". It's a thought I imagine most of us addicts already had at some point of our lives. But this case today, it made me think of how cautious we have to be, how we have to reach out for help should some stupid but serious idea come to mind.


Well, about my recovery, it continues, Ive gone a couple of times to the casino with friends and gambled (I know I shouldnt) but things are under control. I still feel a bit lonely but I'm starting to enjoy myself more, which I know is very important even to start relationships with others.


I read your post and was struck how you ended casually by saying you had gambled. I hope that is not the case and you meant you went to the casino with friends whilst they gambled.


Either way it means that things are not under control. This behaviour is sneaky and you may find you can go a few times but the next time when you've had a few drinks and your guard is down ....


Please take this behaviour seriously - it is not something to be half-hearted about. You have only have to read some of the posts in this forum to see the stress and anxiety that gambling can cause - not to mention the financial, relationship and physical problems .


Anyway - I hope I got the wrong end of the stick and you are still gamble free. Let your friends know that you are not a gambler and ask them to go somewhere else next time - there are plenty of alternatives to casinos. I wish you well!


Hey steev,


Unfortunately you got it right :/ I gambled and of course things are hardly under control. Now i know i cant gamble and ill commit to that! I hope i have the strength!


And sad to hear that you have gambled. I know you can find the strength to get back on the path. I gambled many many times after I had made the first decision to quit.


Look at what led to you gambling (it sounds like wanting to be like your friends - who don't have the problem) and learn from it. Redouble you efforts, ensure all your bans are in place, lose access to money and time and above all get the support you need. GA meetings are on zoom now - Charles has started a thread on this above - or talk to your college about counselling. I wish you well.