I am 46 years old and I’m a compulsive gambler. I first started gambling at the age of 17, not long after I started working. I used to bet on the horses at the TAB, and I remember that I had a few good wins in the early days. This allowed me to escape from my mundane job and an unhappy life. At 19 I was goaled for 9 months for committing false pretences. I changed the balances in a couple of my bank books and drew out money that wasn’t in there, I also stole on one occasion from a youth group, these offences happened after I had gambled and lost my money…
In the late 1980’s I discovered poker machines and my losses became more frequent and more damaging financially. I was desperately unhappy but when sitting in front of a poker machine nothing else mattered.
I stole from friends or borrowed money with concocted stories to hide my gambling losses, I had become a pretty despicable person. Over the years I knew my gambling was out of control, but I didn’t want to stop.
In the 1990’s I met up with an old friend, he gave me somewhere to live and I have lived with him ever since. I have lied and stolen from him in order to keep gambling, every time he has accepted me back and tried to help me with my gambling. I am sure if it wasn’t for him I would not be alive today.
In 2002 after a very heavy gambling session where I lost $7,000 in two days at the casino, I finally realized I had hit rock bottom. I started attending GA. I found a fellowship where I wasn’t judged and realized I wasn’t the only gambler.
I started seeing a gambling counsellor about 18 months ago and this has helped me immensely.
My counsellor has given me great help, encouragement and some real insight into my gambling behaviour as well as some practical tips and strategies for dealing with the urge when it strikes. I still have busts from time to time but thankfully they are becoming less frequent and less damaging financially. There has been no quick fix for me but the counselling has taught me strategies to limit the damage when it occurs.
I now like to think of myself as a recovering gambler, no longer compulsive but not yet cured, but a hell of a lot happier. Every time I get the urge to gamble now I try to live the Serenity Prayer.