I’ll take the easier one first. I post on the forum to give something back. So many people helped me in my quest to end this behaviour – that I firmly believe this is pay-back time. However I only started posting here 18 months ago. I took quite a break from gambling – even stuff to do with recovery because I needed to work my own way out and I found that hearing other people’s problems with it was a trigger for me. As part of my journey, I did study psychology and counselling and I did work with addiction issues – but with drugs rather than gambling (I have never used hard drugs) and with families rather than users (I have no family) so I was able to double distance myself. After so many years of not gambling I now feel I can work with gamblers without being restimulated.
Do I feel it would easily creep up on me? Yes, I don’t believe I can ever gamble on slots again. I know that my brain is wired to keep playing and the only way to stop this is not to start. That is no great hardship though … most people don’t play slots and so I am just joining the majority. Gambling plays no part in my life any more – other than discussing it on here and occasionally through social media.
Do I feel playing games for virtual wins cheating? That is a difficult question – and there is some discussion of issues around alternatives to gambling on my thread at the moment – which you might want to visit. But my honest opinion is for people to do what works for them. I still play the odd computer game (free and without any money award) – not often but occasionally. I remember when I had been stopped for a while, playing pinball which was a little disturbing because it was putting money in a slot – but apart from free games there was no monetary reward – and I did not find it “addictive.” I think the important thing is to focus on our recovery from gambling and one of the ways to do this is to find other uses of our time. Yes it would be nice to think that that would always be useful things like arts and crafts or learning a language or creative writing … but the truth is that sometimes we need to pig out by binge-watching Netflix or playing computer games.
In the post on my thread – I tried to compare it to giving up caffiene, where the sensible thing to do is not to give up suddenly, but gradually over time. I think maybe the same could be done with games where we use it as a way of weaning ourselves off our destructive behaviour and if we feel that this in turn is becoming destructive – then we use the tools we have learnt to wean ourselves off that as well. However, I am aware that this is a controversial view and others may have more to say on the subject.
Congratulations on your gamble free time. Keep doing what you need to do to stay stopped. Don’t forget that you can get support from others online through online meetings such as GA or SMART or counseling and I hope you get a lot from your journey of recovery.