This is a story I created based on my experience with gambler addicts.

It could be you, as this terrible addiction can hit anyone in the world, who has a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop.

No one is free from becoming a compulsive gambler. I saw it affecting many good people (honest, loyal, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters) controlling and destroying their lives.

Gambling leaves the addict isolated, afraid and feeling empty inside.

Until you find the strength to ask for help.

This could be your story:

It all started in my early teens. I wasn’t happy with who I was or comfortable in my own skin and I went through situations in my life and then I had a sense of unworth, loneliness and being unwanted that I never experienced before. I needed to fill a hole in my soul. Then on my phone the opportunity arrived, an advert popped up: this sounds like fun and will keep me occupied or so I thought…this was the beginning of my dark times

Others could take or leave it, but after a few months I couldn’t and I would steal for it..lie for it…and manipulate for it.

The progression to financial difficulties had arrived; no money to pay my bills, clothes or even basic needs such as food. It didn’t take long for me to steal money from my nanny.

By 20 I was in a desperate situation, I had lost my family, destroyed my relationships, alienated my friends and lost my job. What at first was fun and exciting, became a huge problem which I didn’t know how to deal with.

My self-confidence and self-esteem were gone. My focus was constantly looking for money to gamble with, I couldn’t stop…I didn’t know how…

As I went through my early twenties, my gambling problem got heavier. The stress of running out of money and not being able to feed the addiction led me to steal again. The main feeling that I remember was of being very isolated.Image result for gambler addict

I thought I had no-one to turn to, no-one to tell I was struggling. Looking back, I wish I had screamed for help there and then. I was gambling against my will. I took another job but soon after I started taking days off, I didn’t have the money to commute… I isolated myself again. I would sit there, pound after pound, trying to fill this feeling of emptiness and stress inside of me. An emotional side-effect of excessive gambling is the remorse and shame. Some days it would grab hold of me so bad, that I would lock myself in my room, feeling sorry for myself.

The debts accumulated, I couldn’t pay them and the creditors were chasing me. Sometimes I found myself scared of my own shadow. My mental health was deteriorating. I knew I was slipping but I was so fearful of telling anybody the truth for fear of being judged. Sometimes I thought the only way out was by killing myself…

The path to Recovery

It was a Tuesday morning, 3am, I had lost another £2,000 (by selling stolen goods) then something inside my head said, “no more”. I made a phone call to Gamcare and instantly a great relief came over me. A couple of days later I attended my first counselling session. Suddenly it was all out in the open and there no going back. I was completely finished with it and I knew it was over.  Following years of gambling, for the first time I had HOPE. Image result for gambler recovery

Being a compulsive gambler had exhausted me, it had ruined all my relationships, my finances, my family and friends, my trust in myself, my confidence, my values and all my emotions were gone. The next day with my new girlfriend we created a plan: she started to control my finances, my time and we started to do more things together.

The week after I went to see my Counsellor and she came with me. I was now excited and confident and seeing light at the end of the tunnel. My Counsellor reassured me that I could get off this addiction, turn my life around and informed me that there was a long journey, but one that’s worthwhile to take. We went to my parents that night and I told them about my problem. We had a very emotional chat, explaining how my life was a mess and how broken I had become.

Suddenly I had a support network. I had four people who were on my side and who were rooting for me to get better. All this time I had been hiding my emotions from them. All this time I should’ve just told them and stopped hiding my double life that was killing me. That day was the 6 November 2016. It was my clean date. This was the day I turned my life around and got happy and the heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders.  It was the D Day when I stopped hiding from my own emotions in gambling, and faced them head on for the first time in over 6 years. I embarked on a 12 sessions programme with my Counsellor.

All these years I thought I was unique and just disgustingly greedy, but I soon learned (and accepted) that I was an addict. I was on the right track. I was recovering. The therapy I went through with my Counsellor was extremely helpful and I planned to carry on after the 12 sessions.  Recovery is hard.  It’s extremely emotional and self-searching, but it is an absolute breeze compared to being a compulsive gambler!  Recovery is also an incredibly enlightening, humbling and joyous experience. Recovery saved me.

I am now married; my wife, my parents, and my support network saved me. I reached out for help and help came.

If you don’t tell anyone you are suffering, they can’t help you.

  • Just tell someone.Image result for gambler recovery
  • Reach out.
  • You are at rock bottom and you have nothing to lose.

Life is now great.

I think about gambling sometimes but I have a defence mechanism within me.

I am extremely grateful for my life. 

Anon from an ex compulsive gambler.

Author: Nuno Leitao

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