My name is Russ and I’m a compulsive gambler. My last bet was April 2nd 2019. I have found myself thinking a lot about this question along with why do I post on the problem gambling Reddit sub frequently, why do I attend my weekly Skype meeting and why do I write this blog. I think about these things because when I am listening to others in my meetings or reading people’s stories I feel like I don’t belong. I never hit rock bottom or destroyed the relationships in my life the way other people have with this addiction. The debt I have from gambling is enough for anyone, but it is manageable. When you remove gambling from my life then everything is great, I have an amazing life, partner, two young kids, family, friends and a great job. So why do I go to G.A. and work my recovery?
Well, for a start, I know that I need this. The word that is always used in my G.A. meeting is yet. I haven’t the same level of debt as another person in G.A., yet. I haven’t ruined relationships in my life, yet. I haven’t been kicked out of my home and don’t see my kids every day, yet. I know that if I had kept on gambling or if I go back to gambling that’s where I will be over the next couple of years and I don’t want that.
I’m also relatively young at 32 years old and there are a lot of issues that people share in meetings and how they deal with them that I have not experienced. Bereavement of a parent, dealing with kids as they grow older, living with a partner for 30+ years and making it work, tough times in work, just general things in life that more likely than not I will experience at some point. I learn so much from this and it’s something, as a compulsive gambler, you can’t get anywhere else.
I also get to meet and talk to people who have been clean from gambling for a long time. Now I know that recovery is all about taking it one day at a time but seeing people who are 4 years clean, 7 years clean, 12 years clean inspires me and proves to me that this recovery programme works.
When I was gambling I used to tell myself I hated people, didn’t want to talk to people, listened to people if I had to because I didn’t want to be rude but in general my attitude was I could not be bothered dealing with other people. That wasn’t actually me that was my addiction telling me these things, turning me into someone I didn’t want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time by myself, I enjoy my own company but I also really enjoy engaging with other people. My recovery programme gives me the opportunity to do this and if I can help people along the way then that is even better.
The real point of this blog is just to let someone who is struggling with this addiction know that you do not need to wait until you hit rock bottom before you enter recovery. You need to want recovery but deep down if you know this is a problem for you then reach out. There is a life outside of this addiction and if you want it the sooner you can get into recovery the better and possibly easier it is to move forward. I had this preconceived notion that G.A. was only where people went when they had no where else to turn and that it would be full of addicts looking to God for answers or some other cult like atmosphere. What I found when I walked through the doors of my G.A. meeting was a fellowship of like minded people who have been through what I’ve been through and in most cases have been through a lot more and are there to listen to me and help guide me on this road of recovery. It’s a room where no one judges you, where you will be supported through the tough times and where they will enjoy the good times with you.
G.A. and my online group are two of the best things I have found since entering recovery and I know that I will be an active member of them for the rest of my life and I’m ok with that. The alternative is to go back to gambling and experience all the pain and suffering that I haven't exposed myself or my family to……yet.