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      Hello everyone,
      I want to introduce myself as a new member to this forum. I am Charlie, 42, and have been a compulsive gambler for the best part of 14 years.
      In August 2011 I got to a point in my gambling that required me to stop FOREVER !
      A bold statement / an impossible dream / or the harsh reality of the situation I found myself in?
      Like many of you, it started as “social gambling” and I gambled within my means. If I left myself a bit short, I took it on the chin, and waited until the next payday. If I won, I would treat myself (and family) to a nice day out or a treat.
      Without realising it, or being able to pin-point a particular event or time, my levels of gambling increased, but more worryingly my attitude changed. Instead of gambling for fun, I started to gamble out of necessity. My entire psyche changed. Every loss was chased, I carried losses over to the next gambling session, I maxed credit cards, borrowed money off family and friends with no real way of paying it back.
      On two or three occasions, I came very close to getting into serious trouble with the law, and had to be bailed out by my Mother and Brother in 2005.
      After that incident in 2005, I made a real effort to stop, attended GA, had counselling and started a new life with a new partner and got a new job.
      Inexplicably, after a few years with only 2 small blips, I started again in 2009. It was only small amounts and infrequently, but I was lulled into a false sense of security. I though I could CONTROL it. I returned to being in denial. I kept it from my latest girlfriend, hating the fact I was lying to her, but scared to tell her in case she finished with me.
      As I sit here typing, I am on bail for Theft with the real possibility of a prison sentence hanging over my head. Between August 15th and September 19th, I spent 5 weeks homeless, living rough in a desperate attempt to win back what I stole. I hurt my girlfriend and my family, and lost my job.
      All because of the “*** cocaine” of gambling, FOBT Roulette.
      My girlfriend is standing by me and she allowed me to return home. She is scared, confused and doesn’t understand the addiction. She knows that I am not a bad person, but knows that my gambling has made me do a very bad thing.
      I then made the best decision of my life. I applied to go to Gordon Moody and got a place, starting on October 17th 2011. I spent 13 weeks in Beckenham and fully participated in the programme. I cannot tell you what a relief I am now feeling. While I am due to appear in Court on 15th Feb for sentencing, I feel free. I haven’t set foot in a bookies for over 20 weeks. I hardly think about gambling at all and have learnt so many ‘coping skills’ as well as identifying my triggers and I fully understand why I behaved the way I did.
      Regardless of what happens in Court on the 15th Feb, I am free to live a good life. I was in prison, within my own head while I was gambling. No judge can send me to that dark place. If I am sent to prison, I will deal with it, and then come out to a fantastic future with my amazing partner who is still standing by me.
      I am fully aware that I am not out of the woods yet and ‘recovery is an on-going process. I participate in the chat sessions and am working with GM’s outreach team. I am working hard on my recovery and know that complacency is the biggest enemy. To everyone out there who is struggling with this horrible addiction I will say this.
      There is help out there, and even if residential treatment isn’t for you, there is loads of quality advice on here. Stay strong everyone and together we can beat this.
      Good luck to you all with your own battles.
      Charlie xx– 2/3/2012 12:38:50 AM: post edited by CharlieM.

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