How I Beat My Gambling Addiction
How it Started- A Gamble Within a Gamble
When I was 23, I decided to enter a relationship with an "ex-drug addict". There was the first gamble right there. His artistic abilities and our connection made me fall in love and I wasn't even thinking about the possibility of him relapsing. All I knew, within a very short amount of time, was that we were meant to be together. Hey, we've all been young and dumb and in love and made mistakes. But at the time, I was set on being true to my heart.
Like most substance abusers, my love at the time did end up relapsing rather quickly. I was unprepared as I had never lived with anyone that had a substance abuse problem and became quite stressed. The intense fighting about him lying about his drug use is what I believe ultimately led me to miscarry our child that I was carrying.
As I mentioned, the relationship itself was a gamble in itself, as I simply followed my impulses, moved in with someone I knew a little longer than a month, and then let myself get pregnant. I guess I thought the intense connection and the love we shared would be worth all the chaos of me relocating from LA to Seattle, but I was wrong.
After the miscarriage, the two of us were in pain and needed to cope. The night I was discharged from the hospital from losing my child, my ex suggested we go to a local casino instead of just staying home and feeling worse about ourselves. I felt so numb that I agreed that yes, I didn't want to go back to our gothic-decorated home with its fake cadavers and other décor that would just remind me of death. So I went with him to the closest casino.
Self-Numbing and the Addiction to Total Immersion
The first night we spent at the casino was a relief because the sounds of the slot machines were so loud that I couldn't even think and the lights were so stimulating that I was forced to be present instead of ruminating about death. My ex and I stayed at the casino until five in the morning, and I despite being there for eight hours, I won like a hundred bucks. But it still felt better than being in our empty home, facing reality.
Pain has a way of bringing people closer, for better or for worse. So I stayed with my ex even though he was still dealing with his substance abuse problem because I loved him and he was almost...almost the father of my child.
The thing was, his first drug of choice was meth. I hated how dangerous it was for him to smoke it and begged him to get help. But he was not ready to lose his addictive mentality just yet, so I bartered with him. With gambling being his second favorite addiction, I told him that I would stay with him if he quit meth and we just went gambling together instead. At this point, I was just clinging on by a thread to him, myself, and reality, still not having really coped with the loss of a child.
So this is how my ex and I lost thousands and thousands of dollars, lost our big screen TV, our couch, our bed, and eventually our apartment. Sure, we were losing, but we had become so addicted to numbing ourselves and getting lost in this florescent church that it didn't really matter. At least at first.
After 6 months of spending almost every night at the casino, I found myself in a strained, sexless relationship. It's unfortunate that when two people are addicted to something, they tend to not break out of the addiction at the exact same time.
In our case, it was me who decided to stop gambling first. There was one day when we didn't have enough money to do our laundry and found myself handwashing our clothes in a bathroom sink with dish soap, I looked at my tired self in the mirror and decided enough was enough.Of course it was terribly tempting to stay and keep gambling as I desperately hoped that all our losses would still lead to "the big win", but I became tired of starving and worrying about groceries. I needed to leave Seattle, even though their was still some love there, to save myself. We were too close from being homeless and the decreasing quality of our relationship just wasn't worth the gamble anymore.
The Unconventional Way I Healed Myself
So I split from my ex and moved back from Seattle to Los Angeles. Just like I had gone "all in" in my relationship with him, it was devastating going "all out". I fell into a six month depression which kept me in bed either on my back, ruminating and crying, or on my stomach, trying to journal my way out of the pain.
I attempted to attend a Gambler's Anonymous group in Glendale, but it wasn't really effective for me. The guy that wanted to sponsor me was a 65 year old man who wore a T-shirt that said "I Blame My Father for Everything".
Unimpressed, I knew I needed to take matters into my own hands. Upon doing some serious reflecting and making insights as it came to my own emotional landscape, I decided that the best way to stay away from gambling was to channel that "game-playing" addiction I had to more harmless habits. So I begin to play ping pong, billiards, and darts every day at the local bar.
Unlike gambling, these games were free, and it allowed me to rebuild my confidence as I made several friends just enjoying these bar games. So that's ultimately how I got over gambling. I channeled that game-playing, adrenaline- soaked tendency of mine into something less destructive. And I read the book below to help rebuild my finances.