This article was written with the hope that it might help someone, maybe someone addicted to roulette or blackjack online. In order to do this, I’m going to share my personal stories and examine the 20 questions that Gamblers Anonymous uses to diagnose a compulsive gambler. First and foremost, I am a compulsive gambler.
After serious counseling and intervention from God, I have been able to control my favorite vice. Although I now have control over my gambling problem, it is like a disease that never goes away. I have learned to deal with my cravings for action and to treat gaming as a hobby and not fall into the trap I was once in and that still wants to pull me back. So without further ado, let’s get down to the big 20 and my experience with them.
1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
Many times I have called in sick to work because of my gambling. I would stay up all hours of the night playing poker on-line until I just couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer. This made for a very rough life when I did go to work, so I just quit going altogether. If there was a tourney about to start when I would get up after my two or three hours of sleep, I would just call in sick and play the tourney. Not to mention the financial loses, it really screwed up my days and nights.
2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
Oh boy did it ever. With my days and nights backwards, I was always wanting to sleep when I should be doing stuff around the house. I didn’t want to do anything but gamble either. Didn’t want to spend time with the wife and kid, didn’t want to keep up my personal hygiene. This lead to my wife threatening to leave me if I didn’t change.
3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
For the longest time, I didn’t care about my reputation. What others thought of me wasn’t any of my concern because I knew I was a good guy. It’s when you get clean that you find out how bad you really were. Lazy, cranky, no good for nothing…all these things were used to describe me, and looking back they were all accurate. Thanks to someone with a little faith, I am getting back a good reputation and rebuilding bridges that I burnt.
4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
All the time!!! I never had a losing session after which I wasn’t sorry for what I had done, I was just too sick not to repeat it. The biggest problem I had was that I was sorry I had lost the money and not about the people I was hurting.
5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
That’s the worst part of it. When you work a job like mine, you need the money that you use to gamble with. Many times I would be short on a bill and try to get the rest with my gambling skills. Well obviously that didn’t work or I wouldn’t be writing this. Now I am on a very strict budget and never use anymore than what I can spare.
6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
This one is tricky, my ambition has always been to be a millionaire, so that has never decreased. Now my efficiency really suffered, if not from a lack of rest then from a lack interest in anything other than making money. Trying to schedule things around poker or horse racing, getting caught up in the moment, I just never got anything done.
7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
They were all suckers( the people I lost money too). Getting back at them was the only thing I could think about for a while after a losing session. My worst day was one when I lost $50 at the horse races. At that time there was nothing to do after the last race went off, so craving a pay back, I set off with two buddies on a four hour trip to the nearest casino. It was about 9 p.m. when we got there, and we stayed all night. We left the next morning at 8 a.m. and arrived back to the cars around noon tired and nearly broke. I went to the local Wal Mart and bought some tooth paste and mouth wash and headed back to the track to get my money back. I went broke on the first race and passed out in the corner of the simulcast room. But that wasn’t enough to make me see the light.
8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
Oh Baby, I never wanted to quit while I was ahead. The gambler lives a life of streaks, the bad ones are just one bet away from being broken, and the good ones you have to play out. Too often playing out a winning streak leads to the start of a bad streak which leads to self destruction. I was on a craps table one time and made a simple $5 bet on a Yo. That’s a six and five for those that don’t know, and it pays 15-1 odds. Well it hit giving me $80 that I parlayed and hit again. That’s $1200 for 5. Take the money and run you are probably screaming, but I was on a streak and parlayed it again. 18 grand was mine. That was as much as I made the entire year before. All I had to do was pick it up. All I could think of was “ one more time , one more time” . The risk was 18 grand but the payoff was 270 large. The dice hit the table and one stopped on 6, the second one took an eternity to stop, and when it did it was a 4. I had just lost 18000 dollars. That sent my gambler’s mind off on a hunt for $18000 that ended in me losing $750 and going home broke, drunk ,and hungry.
9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
Money is nothing but bullets in the gambler’s gun. If you haven’t hit anything, just keep firing. When I had a losing session at the track, I never left with anything, not gas money or food money, I was BROKE.
10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
When you are an addicted gambler, you don’t care where the money comes from. I would beg and borrow just for a few bucks to put on the 5th race. Then it was more to bet another and another. Then came the worst thing that ever happened to me…CREDIT CARDS… I was so bad with these. Cash advances, online betting, any way I could gamble with them I did. I also used them to pay my expenses so I could use my cash to gamble. All in all, $30,000 in debt and NO way to pay for it. I ended up in bankruptcy which gave me a new start, and thanks to a lot of help I am doing the right thing and paying back.
11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
This one gets emotional. I was a big time pool player locally. One year for Christmas my mom bought me a cue that was very expensive. I made my living on the felt of the pool table because it was the only gambling I was good at. It paid what bills I did pay and bought my food, not to mention the gambling I financed through it. I hit a bad skid where I couldn’t hit anything for three weeks. I was broke and destitute, so I sold my cue for a measly $50. That is probably the thing that hurt me the most of anything I did under the influence of gambling.
12. Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
Everything I had was gambling money. I didn’t want to pay bills or anything until I absolutely had to, and then when I used my money for those bills I felt like I was cheating my self out of another bet.
13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
I wont go into much detail here, but I forgot to pick my son up from daycare one day. Ultimately that lead to me getting strait.
14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
I never really set a time that I wanted to quit, so not time wise. Money wise is a different story though. I would take $100 in the track with me and plan on leaving when that was gone. I just walked back to the car and got another $100. Then eventually my whole bank roll.
15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
A lot of the time I wound up gambling, I had no plans to do it. Something would come up and I needed something to take my mind off of it. Well I didn’t drink or do drugs, so I gambled. Gambling is absolutely the worst thing you can do when you aren’t focused on it. I made a trip to Biloxi to see a friend of mine, an off and on girlfriend. I made mistake 1 by staying in the casino hotel. The last night I was there, she told me that I wouldn’t be welcomed in her life anymore as she was getting married. Well that was pretty hard to take and I hit the tables to get her off my mind. I ended up losing all my money and having to pawn my golf clubs just to have gas money to get home.
16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
I have never done anything illegal to get money for gambling. I have often thought of things like selling drugs or rolling up on some with a big wad of cash, but I never could go through with anything like that.
17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
As I covered in question 1, I got my days and nights mixed up pretty bad. I haven’t slept 8 hours in probably 10 years. To this day I don’t sleep well, mostly thinking of the wrongs I have done. But it’s getting better.
18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
Arguments, disappointments, and frustrations lead worry for me, so just see #15 for this answer.
19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
There was no better way to celebrate than a trip to the casino. The wife could do the spa while I maxed out the credit card gambling, then we could go see a show and eat on the comps I earned. What a wonderful reward!!!
20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?
I cant even start to count the times I thought about suicide. I even went as far as loading a pistol and putting it to my head. My guardian angel must have stopped me, because I’m still here.
Well folks, there are 20 questions and 20 answers. I didn’t write this to make people feel bad about themselves or to feel sorry for me. I wrote this so that someone might find the help they need before they make the mistakes I did. It has been 2 years since I started counseling and I am now on the strait and narrow. I enjoy playing poker and betting horses, but I never use a single dollar that isn’t left over after my obligations. If anyone feels like they are on the same road I was, it’s not hopeless. You can overcome it!