How To Recover From Online Gambling
The way I see it, I’m now a recovering compulsive gambler. It’s a progressive disease, hidden until the sufferer ultimately recognizes that he is suffering in a way that consumes his life and makes him cheat and lie in a way he would never have considered. Compulsive gamblers even believe their own lies. Some will steal and go to jail. Some will die from the stress they’ve inflicted on themselves. Some will opt for suicide as a way out.
Now for many years I have been trying to help people escape the bottomless quicksand of gambling addiction. I try to give those who are addicted a rope so they can grab on and crawl out of the pit. A small number will seek real help. Some will get their head straight again. It’s a demanding effort. I know I help some get through the change; often I fail.
Gambling is a different kind of addiction. I’d like to call it a curse, except it’s hard for me not to blame myself. So many people don’t understand the hold it has and can’t recognize it. People around me couldn’t smell it on my breath. I didn’t nod off at work. There were no track marks on my arms. There is no blood test or urine test for my kind of addiction. I could hide it.
Responsible loan officers must not have recognized my problem because they kept loaning me money I couldn’t repay. I couldn’t even acknowledge what I was for so long. But eventually, deep inside, I knew I had a serious problem.
Until I reached the very bottom of the pit I was free-falling into and experienced an awakening, I couldn’t admit to myself how gambling had taken over my life or how I had finally reached the point of complete desperation and disaster.
I understand that no compulsive gambler gets out of trouble by reading a book any more than problem drinkers or drug users do, but I hope that somehow I can be a warning sign for others who feel that it can’t, that it won’t, happen to them or their family members. More realistically, I hope to draw a picture so people who laugh at the gamblers in Guys and Dolls can understand how real the problem is, and how awful it can be for those who love a compulsive gambler.
Obviously, I found a way out because I’m writing this book and am a functioning family man today. But I hope you can understand how crushing the problem was and how excruciating it was to get out from under it. If you saw Frank Sinatra writhe and sweat in the film The Man with the Golden Arm as he fought his heroin addiction, you get the idea—except that fighting gambling takes longer. When the former gambler in the senior citizens’ center picks up a deck in a friendly gin game, the rush of adrenaline comes back. He or she thinks about the bet.