There's hope and help for problem gambling.

Mike’s Story

When I initially started in GA, I had no idea where I was, wanted, felt or why I became the compulsive gambler. Many things in my life became unmanageable: relationships, finances, emotions. All I knew was that gambling allowed me to forgo all these responsibilities and hide in the isolation. Eventually, once I became isolated form the world, my focus was on my gambling addiction; feeding it, hiding it, and financing it. Feeding my gambling addiction took much time, money, and neglect. Many hours; sometimes days consumed my time. The money spent during these gambling escapades. The neglect for sleeping, eating, and emotional stability.

My addiction became the “snowball effect.” As my gambling addiction grew, so did all the negative aspects in my life: emotional, financial, humane. None were positive in my life. With the help of a family intervention, I found out about (GA) Gamblers Anonymous. As I went through the 12-step program, I began to feel different; neither positive nor negative; just different.

In feeling different, I was not sure at all what to expect; who else would be there. Thinking to myself, are there really other people out there with the same problems as me? As I began taking each step within the GA Program; that “cloud” began to lift. When the cloud slowly begins to lift, a person begins to make room for themselves and take a look around. When a person looks around, they begin to see some of the destruction they have done across all aspects of their life during their gambling addiction. The “wow” factor hits a person and emotions, which were covered by addiction, began to come back slowly.

As you go through the program, you meet people just like you and the journey of fellowship begins. Connecting with others about your past issues, current feelings, and future dreams brings a person “back to ground.” This foundation is then laid so a person has a direction to evaluate, assess and measure their and their peers success through the program. In saying this, the GA Program is very fluid in that even failures, during the journey; are success. The steps within the GA Program allowed me to seek a positive direction. The fellowship, with other members, helps address any loose ends or hang-ups that may occur along the way. Sometimes I may take two steps forward and one step backward but the GA Program allows you to be human and always seek a positive path in managing your addiction.

As I went through the latter steps of the GA Program; the ongoing theme was to seek a higher power. Simply something positive. Whatever works for a person. To me, fellowship is much like a higher power because I can simply dispel any negatives and keep my journey moving positively to regain my human self again. A higher power helps fill those gaps of doubt, despair, and confusion with hope, happiness, and direction. Who doesn’t want that, right? Seeking a higher power is like remembering junior high dances. The music is playing and everybody is standing around, looking at each other, but not dancing. The higher power is the dancing, all you have to do is ask someone to dance. Get out there and dance (seek your higher power) and guess what? Others follow and begin dancing too and that speaks volumes of how important fellowship with other members is and finding and creating a higher power of your own understanding.

Currently, I still remain gambling free. As the GA Program has taught, we are never free of gambling. We are given tools to manage when any gambling urges come around.

My emotional state of mind is much better now, I don’t feel “lost” all the time. I have become more will to speak to people now. I have come to realize that everyone on this earth has their own set of problems. We have to just find healthier ways to address them.

Along with being more social, I have been able to be joyful and feel a sense of gratitude for the things in my life now. Are they perfect? Absolutely not, but that’s part of everybody’s day-to-day struggles. Myself, I have learned to accept this and not take it out on myself like before.

My finances immediately turned around and I am no longer behind on bills and still have plenty left over to spare. This in itself, has taken an additional burden, of complex-negative-emotions out of my life.

I have began to listen to Christian radio more, I like the positive dialogue and the fact it speaks in real terms about how human struggles and successes. It’s been my way of keeping in touch with my higher power. Fellowship with current members also helps in understanding my faith.

I made amends to most my family members and friends. This really has taken a huge burden of guilt away that I let build up. It’s also helped reduce many other negative emotions as well. I feel more human now and take it day by day knowing life can and will get better.

I will end with a saying that caught me off guard. “You can never love the perfect person perfectly; just love the imperfect person perfectly.” That goes for me too as I travel through my journey called life. Thanks for hearing me out and allowing me to help myself and others.