Personal experience of online gambling addiction and the impact of a gambling addiction on my life. This is how I dealt with addiction
Consequence Of My Gambling Addiction
I do not claim to have in depth knowledge about addiction but I was addicted to online gambling. I felt as if I was addicted to a drug. If I did not get my fix every day then I would feel agitated and upset.
I could think of nothing but gambling and gambling took over my life. I lost everything I owned almost and felt too depressed to do anything about it. The scary part was I could not stop.
When I could not afford to gamble, I gambled. I have gone hungry through gambling and I have been cold, unable to pay my bills. I have missed out on spending precious time with my family because I gambled. I lost everything I had material wise through gambling and still I continued gambling. I write about my experience and of my journey of addiction in the hopes I reach out to someone who is struggling with addiction.
There are many reasons why people gamble. The buzz or the adrenaline rush, for enjoyment or excitement of winning or nearly winning, for fun, for company, to escape from stress, boredom, loneliness, isolation and other life problems. These were all my reasons for gambling. After divorce, the death of my friend and the triggering of my own illnesses, gambling became a comfort because I was lonely.
My Addiction Experience
There are different forms of gambling. My choice of gambling was online bingo but other forms of gambling could be betting on horses, playing casino games like roulette or scratch cards. Gambling is about using money and more often than not, losing that money.
When I first gambled in 2008 it was just a bit of distraction from what was going on in my life. I had a few family worries that were wearing me down and needed the distraction. At first a little flutter did no harm. I only spent a few pounds here and there. I did not gamble on a daily basis.
I do not know when it happened but there came a time when I needed to gamble. I even got up in the middle of the night to gamble. Gambling was all I could think about. I did not socialise because I would miss playing online. I tried not to stray far from the computer so I could play. I was gambling more and more money in the hopes I would win back what I had lost. I prayed and wished for a win. I needed a win to put back the electric money and to pay my bills. I have gambled my last ten pounds many times in the hope I would win. I would be convinced that this time I would win, but I did not win.
I was what is called a problem gambler. I had the urge to gamble even though I was not having fun, was getting into debt and the fear of getting caught or found out was making me ill. I felt compelled to gamble and each time I did I was terrified.
The need and physical feelings of the urge is an extremely powerful sensation, like a power magnet drawing me towards gambling that feels like it will not stop until I deposit. Once I had deposited and felt some relief for a short time then severe anxiety would kick in. I had to hide my severe internal distress from my family and all this would be a vicious circle of feelings and behaviour all day, every day for years.
I lied to my family about how much I gambled because I put gambling before my family.
I chased my losses for years, losing more in the process. It was a form of self-harm because I was really hurting myself mentally and physically through stress, guilt and shame. My stomach was always in knots and I was constantly afraid. This stress had a detrimental impact of physical and mental health. I experienced severe anxiety to the point of not wanting to be far a way from my computer and wanting to be alone.
I was too ashamed to ask for help, too guilt risen to reach out to someone. I was too terrified to admit what I had done. No one ever knew what I was experiencing as on the outside I carried on as normal when in the presence of others. My physical and mental deteriorated and I was in a constant state of fear.
Shame and Guilt
An important part of my recovery from gambling was learning to forgive myself and let go of the guilt and shame that I felt. “The feeling of guilt is an unpleasant feeling, one that is not loving, that exists because we believe we have done something wrong is ultimately defined by our own internal beliefs”. Edwin Navarro
I was disconnected from the innate ability to love myself and realised I had been for a long time. I hated myself myself because I gambled when I could not afford to.
Life is too short for me to constantly punish myself or to continue feeling bad because of mistakes made. I know that I have learnt from my mistakes and all I can do now is move on and leave all anger, guilt and shame behind me.
All we can do as an addict, is to apologise to ourselves and to those we love if they have been affected, and move on. Nothing is going to be gained by flogging ourselves with guilt and shame. I learnt that the hard way.
Shame and guilt can prevent a lot of people not to seek help. I felt too ashamed to tell anyone for a long time. When I finally did admit to a counsellor I started to understand why I continued to gamble even though I felt so wretched whilst doing it.
Learning To Self-Love
“Self love is the source of all our other loves”. Pierre Cornelle
I read many books in my search of help for my depression which I felt was the root of my addiction to gambling.
The main thread and message of all those books I read was this, ‘Love yourself.’ I did not love myself. I did not even like myself. As a gambler I had to learn to forgive myself, to love and accept myself, warts and all.
We all deserve to be loved and to feel love regardless of the mistakes we have made. In order to receive or give love we must first learn to love our-self and want the best for our-self. If we do not love ourselves we cannot really love another. In order to be able to love others, I must first love myself the way I want others to love me, the way I would love others.
I did not know the meaning of love myself. In my journal from my gambling days, I had written, “How do I love myself? I feel disconnected mentally and physically from the rest of the world. I feel isolated physically and mentally. I feel shut down and shut off from feelings of ‘Love’. I don’t know how to feel love and I need to know. Where do I start and how do I learn to love myself?”
Some might feel it wrong to love the self first and think it is a selfish act. I was taught by my mother that it was a sin to love the self and that I was not worthy of love. I have learnt that my mother was wrong when she passed on that belief to me. It is an outdated belief that I once believed.I had to reprogram myself to believe I was worthy of love by use of affirmations. Day and night I repeated to myself self loving affirmations until I started to believe I was worthy of love and forgiveness. We are all worthy of love and forgiveness.
How I Deal With Gambling Addiction
First step was to block myself from gambling sites. This was easy to do as I contacted gamstop. Minute later it was impossible for me to log on to a gambling site. I had the option to block my access to gambling sites for 6 months to 5 years. I hit the 5 year button.
Focus on a goal. I thought about all the things I would like to achieve in life and I wrote down my goals. Without goals we are just plodding through life and not enjoying the journey of life. As Albert Einstein said, “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”
I got myself a law of attraction planner which is invaluable for keeping me focused on my goals. Every month I set goals and write them down. I also write down weekly, daily, long term and short term goals. I focus on my goals and the steps I need to take to achieve my goals. I focus on the goals which keeps me from thinking about gambling. With goals to aim for, the gambling became less of an intense pull because now my goals gave me so excitement and hope.
I cannot express enough the power of the written word. I have found that keeping a journal about how I feel and how I want to feel, distracts me from gambling. I have found it invaluable to express myself on paper even if I shred it after writing. Seeing how I feel in words on the paper in front of me has been a powerful way of expressing how I feel. Try it because it could work for you too.
Do You Have a Gambling Problem?
I have met so many people who are in denial to themselves and their families about their gambling habits. They hide their receipts and bank statements from the family for fear of their addiction being found out. If you are in the position now then reach out to someone. Talk to someone to find the cause of your addiction.
Ask yourself the following questions.
Do you spend more than you can afford to lose?
Do you spend a lot of time thinking about gambling?
Is gambling the first thing you think about each day?
Are you neglecting family because of need to gamble?
Do you hide your addiction from family and friends?
Have you lost money, property or anything else through gambling?
Are you compelled, feel like you really need to gamble?
If you have said yes to any of the above, you could have a problem or be en route to having a problem. This might be the time to seek confidential help to discuss reason for gambling addiction.
Can a Gambling Addiction Be Cured?
There is no true cure for a gambling addiction, although it can be treated and managed with counselling and/or behavioural changes.
Self-helps starts by facing the fact that we are addicted and by becoming more aware of ourselves and how we think and feel. By building up our self-love and self-esteem and by finding other less risky ways of distraction or pleasure.
Help For Compulsive Gamblers UK
I am sharing that I found in the UK, 'Gamstop', which is a free service . By joining Gamstop I was able to make sure I was automatically blocked from joining a gambling site, or, from logging into accounts to do with gambling.
With Gamstop you have the option to self-exclude for a period of six months, one year or five years. They also offer support if you need it.
Got a question?
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Louise Elcross (author) from Preston on June 14, 2020:
Thanks for reading Sp Greaney.
Sp Greaney from Ireland on June 13, 2020:
It's interesting reading this from the perspective of someone who is in recovery. I think people never realise what is going on in someones life to drive them to gamble. Very good article.
Louise Elcross (author) from Preston on September 06, 2019:
Thank you Lorna. I feel for those going through addictions. My experience was horrendous to me but I am glad it is all over.
Lorna Lamon on September 06, 2019:
This is an excellent article highlighting the consequences of this addiction. Your own experience and your courage in recovery will be invaluable to those people who are living with this addiction.