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Gambler getting you down?

Updated on September 15, 2009

No jackpots

You can live with a gambler for years and never know that the person has a gambling addiction. this is especially true if your mate spends and inordinate amount of time away from home due to a job or because you both just like to have your own interests.

I know that I was a sceptic, until I found my mate had a whole other life away from the job as a special education coordinator. What i didn't know was that she had a $4000. a month gambling addiction that finally explained to me why we never seemed to have any money, though we never went out(at least together), Never took a vacation, (though she had "conferences" all over to attend, including Hawaii, the United Kingdom, and the South and East coast.

She also had a friend (always just friends), whom she claimed was gay and who turned out to have many of the same gambling acquaintances, some of which loaned money and introduced them to other gamblers they spent time with, dining, drinking, and of course, gambling.

It took me four years before I suspected any thing at all was going on, other than we were poor managers of money.  No matter how much came in, and it was substantial since I held some property and other holdings, it was never enough.  Both our salaries were eaten up by traveling expenses, dine out and club charges, and what really got my attention were the casino cashed checks which were made out to cash.

Even if we had a closer relationship, she was still a genius at covering up her activities so I doubt it would have made any difference.  for example, after the divorce I found my Rolex watch movement had been replaced by junk. who would do such a thing?  I kept asking myself over and over. Money I left lying around, or my wallet carelessly left on the night stand I never checked but it came to me finally,  I never had any cash to spare.

Friends from out of town were always welcome. She would use this as an excuse to hit the casinos.  Her favorite games were the slots, the worst paying gambling device of all,  the quarter machines. she won too, and often but the money never made it home, or to pay me back, have the needed repairs on the car done, or the overdue dental work

Nice things that did make it into the home were gradually replaced with shabbier items.  Books and coins of value from a coveted collection disappeared.  Burglars were blamed.  Security was tightened.  Even the slot machine in the game room disappeared with several hundred dollars in it.

When her personal jewelry came up missing, and I had done the income tax for the year and didn't have enough to pay the property taxes, I knew, or I should say I finally admitted to myself that she was an addict. I dreaded confronting her.  We had never had a cross word between us. but I know it was over and I had nothing to lose. 

She wept, denied she had a problem or that she had a lover, screamed, lied some more but when I didn't react, admitted finally it was her problem and she would get help.  In my heart I knew she was lying.  I went along for awhile, even seeing a counselor who diagnosed the problem as a lack of intimacy and suggested we see more of each other.  As a former counselor herself, it was clear to me that she would never accept the help of anyone, especially a counselor.

She never missed a beat.  While I worked on the home to fix it for a sale, she was gone.  I moved into an apartment.  We made arrangements to divide the property but she raged on so that I accepted almost nothing and moved on.  I haven't seen her for fifteen years, nor do i want nor expect to see her.

Gambling addiction is probably the worlst addiction there is.  Gamblers are seeking the high that comes with the game and not necessarily from winning,  The adrenaline works when the gambler is losing, which is most of the time. 

Gamblers have a need to lose and have no control over how much they are spending at the gaming tables. The rush is so intense, when they are not gambling, the rest of the world, children, a mate, all seem uninteresting and boring.

This is why gambling addictions are the most pernicious. Gamblers may maintain the facade of "normal" and carry it on indefinitely or until they are caught, usually because they want to be found out.  alcoholics and drug addicts show definite physical signs which are a give away, while the gambler may fool everyone for years.

Of course when they are in trouble with a loan shark or in debt to the family and no more money is available form any source, they often turn to crime or if young enough, to prostitution.  Even intervention before this step into hell is taken, usually does not bring the addict back to sanity.  the prognosis is poor.  Hooked on excitement and the  feelings associated with how bad they feel about themselves, they are frequently seen in emergency rooms for injuries sustained as a result of a theft victim striking back. They  have high rates of suicide.

Rarely can a family bring an addict permanently back from the clutches of a gambling addiction.  But families out of love and care do try and sometimes with a little luck are able to get help from an organization called gamblers anonomous. 

Very similar to Alcoholics Anonomous, the organization is a spiritual based program that relies on the help of all the members in any major city.  Meetings are held where support and love is dished out in equal portions, as well as the oppportunity for the addict to tell his story.  No one is judgmental because they have all decended to the "bottom," which is different for everyone at the meeting.

It  is usually at this stage that coversion is possible.  The addict  chooses a sponser who will help them through the initial recovery process and more.

The addict may fool family, friends, ministers,  counselors and even psychiatrists.  But they cannot fool others who are  exactly like them and have walked in their shoes.  It is truly a miracle to see a new conversion take place. Where once before stood a thief, liar,  master manipulator, abuser, cynic, and non-believer in anything but themselves, stands a newly born convert to living the straight and narrow life.

They will never be more ready to try and rebuild the family and a job they have destroyed.  They are also willing to help another addict who has hit bottom.  There is no other way to describe it other than miraculous.


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