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.