I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler, are you? In November of 2007 I hit bottom and ended up in an adult Psych Unit for Suicidal Depression due to my Gambling and a problem at my work place that almost cost me my job. I never gambled at a casino, Bet on horses, or played many of the formal ways people think of as gambling. I was a Scratch off ticket gambler. It was easy because I worked in a convenience store.
It is important to note that many people think “why don’t they just stop?” but would never ask the same question of someone who goes to a restaurant to eat. Just as a person would not go to a restaurant for a single fry or a single bite of a sandwich, a compulsive gambler does not go for one “play” and leave. You go to a restaurant for the whole experience (food, being waited on and other environmental experiences) and a compulsive gambler goes for the whole experience as well (win or Lose).
It is personal for the compulsive gambler. The anticipation of each move. The joy of winning and the pain of losing (much like riding a roller coaster). The feeling of being in control and also out of control are exhilarating. The escape, even if it is just for a moment, from dealing with the real world and being able to retreat into a fantasy becomes so compelling that it takes over. After losing and when heading home you hang your head and know it was wrong but it was better for a little while. Creating stories of why you were gone seems like a good idea because you know you can’t tell anyone the truth.
In the end everything comes unraveled. The borrowing to pay “bills” and the hiding bills come out. The loss of your job because of problems the gambling brings on. What I experienced resulted in Divorce, Hospitalization, almost losing my job and so many other problems that today I focus on my recovery as if it is a matter of life or death. I’ve used my background in mental health (BSW), and experiences working with people to help bring public awareness to the problem as a part of my recovery today. I am aware I cannot let my guard down because to do so could open me up to a new addiction.