A page from a female problem gambler’s diary.
Those five simple words – one day at a time – are in the program. Sometimes even getting through a day without gambling can be tough. I started this journey to stop gambling almost five years ago. I knew my life had become unmanageable due to my gambling.
I did what they tell you to do when you first go to a 12 Step Program. “Go to as many meetings as you can, meetings make it. Get a sponsor, use the phone list.” I did all that and I managed to get 11 months gambling free my first year in the program. Then I got sucked into the glamour and the glitz of casino gambling. The flashing lights, the music coming from the games I would play. I could hide in my own little world. I didn’t have to talk to anyone while at the casino. I could forget about my problems; not deal with the hurt I felt about my son or the pain I felt when my mom died. The machines were my friends or so I thought.
There were days when I was happy over a “big win.” I would give my best friend money; help my church; and buy things for my son and myself. I was on top of the world after a big win. I wouldn’t go back to the casino for a while. In my mind I thought the casino gods were smiling on me, why go back and spoil it.
Then the boredom would set in. The two hours at the casino would turn into six then sometimes 12 hours. The casino became my job. I had fallen into the abyss. This baffling disease of gambling had taken over me and my soul. My gambling had made me a person I hated. I hated lies, yet I was telling them. I hated borrowing money, but I was doing that to support my gambling habit.
Then the bills started piling up. I missed one car payment, and then two and three, then the repo man came and took my car away. Then came my house. Yet even after these things were gone I would still go gamble on occasion. Then it finally hit me, “I’ve lost the material things and my desire to live.” How much lower can I sink? Then I lost my mind. I had a psychotic break and a manic episode while in the hospital. I don’t remember everything about it. I just know I wasn’t myself.
And so it’s been a long journey to get back to the person that I know and love. This program has helped me to grow and learn from my mistakes. It’s taught me that there are others who struggle with this gambling addiction. And with the help of my higher power – who I call God – I can get through another day. One day at a time.
Problem Gambling is a treatable addiction. The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling can help – 1-800-522-4700 – 24/7, confidential.Leave a reply