I know where it started. I know how it all began. But, what I didn’t know is why I was still doing it!
That’s what led me to read more about compulsive gambling, and eventually, to share the basics of my addiction story.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, YOU have a story to tell!
For me, my story was one of diagnosed mental illness (and, while I was never diagnosed with it formally), addiction.
Before being diagnosed with mental illness, I drank. Quite often!
My drinking was me self-medicating. It’s how I coped with being (undiagnosed and untreated) ill.
It has been 20 years since I got the diagnosis that sent me on a path of eradicating alcohol completely.
I had gotten answers. Finally. As to why I was struggling so bad!
And, what it all boiled down to, is that I drank because I am chronically ill.
But, what about my compulsive gambling?
Well, that is an illness too!
I placed my first bet at around 13 or 14.
I did so because that’s what the adults in my family sometimes did!
On family get togethers, we’d sit around the kitchen table and gamble.
Now, I can’t tell you at what point, compulsive gambling started for one of my aunts and two of my uncles, but they had the problem too!
So, it’s entirely possible that I come by compulsive gambling honestly.
But, that didn’t matter much to me.
In the face of addiction and wanting to move forward with my life, I recognized that things needed to change.
If I was to have an improved outlook on my relationships, my finances, and my life in general… I needed to accept what I am dealing with and go from there!
And, as I mentioned, I was never dually diagnosed (in my case, a severe mental illness plus some kind of addiction). However, I know that I am a compulsive gambler and I don’t need a piece of paper to confirm that!
So, the important thing for me with alcohol was abstinence. And, that would have to be the important thing in the case of my gambling as well!
I don’t believe I was addicted to alcohol insomuch as I am addicted to gambling.
Do I have an addictive personality?
Yes, I do think so.
I am also addicted to food.
But, one problem at a time!
In the spirit of gambler’s anonymous, I will not discuss betting amounts, how much I’ve won, or how much I’ve lost.
The takeaway from what I am sharing with you, is that if compulsive gambling is something you struggle with, you will only begin to do something about it when the pain associated with gambling (or any addiction) becomes so great, that a change needs to occur!
For me, I’ve experienced greater than normal anxiety while gambling in the casino. And, that right there, is reason enough to question why I was doing this to myself!
Yes, I have lost hundreds of hours to gambling. And, it has been anything but fun.
Looking back on all the times I was betting at the casino, one of the constants was the comps!
Non-problem gamblers will say, “that’s how they get you.”
And, you know what?
In multiple instances, I fell for the free food, the free hotels, and the free gambling money!
What would you do, if you were given all of these things for “free?”
You’d gamble. Quite possibly, anyway!
That’s what I did!
At times, I even strategized as to how I can get comped this, or get comped that.
All in an effort to somehow convince myself that what was going on was fun!
Gambling, for me, is compulsory, and also, a distraction from life and all its troubles.
I cannot gamble normally, no matter what I do!
As I’ve mentioned, I have severe mental illness and it is chronic in nature.
So, treating that has become priority #1.
Another priority, priority #2 (as it pertains to facing various issues in my life), is not making the decision to gamble, which is something I feel I have control over. Ultimately.
It may not be easy, and I may become triggered from time to time… but, I have a reason to fight my addictions!
Not just the gambling one, but the food one as well!
The main thing I am doing every day is I am aiming for 7 to 9 hours of continuous (scheduled) sleep.
That alone has been transcending!
I still require naps as someone battling severe mental illness.
And, at present, I am only getting 1-2 days of continuous sleep every week.
But, I try!
And, that’s all I can do!
Day by day, hour by hour, and sometimes minute by minute.
I call this essay the Last Casino because I truly want to get the message across, that neither you nor I have to repeat the patterns of addiction in our lives!
There is such a thing as “relapse” and it does happen. And, for most people with addictions, it will probably happen a few more times at least.
Quitting isn’t easy. Abstinence isn’t easy. But, the lease on life one might possibly get, by remaining addiction-free is transformational!
What will it take for me (or you) to realize we don’t have to be enslaved by our addictions?
Well, for me, I can only do as I’ve suggested. Take life a day at a time, an hour at a time, or even a minute at a time.
And, that’s all I can do!
Will this one essay change your life?
But, I am using it to encourage myself, when I am faced with a “relapse.” And, to know that I can overcome some things in my life.
You know, the things that can be overcome?
Of course, I am not speaking of severe mental illness when I say this.
Severe mental illness cannot be overcome, but it can be managed!
That said, there is no cure for severe mental illness… and, for many, the meds only do so much!
For the final time. It’s one day at a time, one hour at a time (and in some cases), one minute at a time.
That and you must employ a level of resolve to not do things that are not in your best interest!
I know I am making it sound easy. And, believe me, I know that it’s not!
But, you can do as I’ve suggested… and, try!
And, just see where that takes you…
Thanks for reading and have a great rest of your day!