Started Gambling in Junior High School


I grew up in Reno, Nevada where my mother was a complusive gambler and so was my grandmother. I started gambling when I was in junior high school betting my lunch money everyday pitching quarters up against the wall to see who could get closer; It was only natural to start in the casinos when I turned 21.

I got hooked right away and knew that I couldn't stop when I lost my first pay check at 21 years old. I struggled for years trying to control my gambling. I went to a 12 step meeting my first time when I was 25 years old; I definitely wasn't ready to stop even though I knew I had a problem. So of course after one meeting I didnt'' go again and my gambling got progressively worse. I always thought I was a responsible gambler though because I would pay my bills; I would just blow everything else after the bills.

When I was 28 years old I moved to Las Vegas for a promotion; more money meant more gambling. So of course after a few years I had to admit that I had a serious problem and do something about it. I joined Gamblers anonymous and went to the meetings about once a week. I didn't really work the program but I did stop gambling for 8 months and felt much better.

Well of course after 8 months I figured I was cured and could gamble responsibly. Boy was the a bunch of crap. The sad part is that it took me seven more years to get my butt back to gamblers anonymous. At this time I had already moved back to Reno and my daughter was about 13. This time I had truly hit my bottom and my bottom was an emotional bottom. I was tired of being numb all the time, of not knowing how to feel anymore, lieing to everyone I knew, living in a shadow wanting to be invisible or hidden so no one would know my big secret, I was tired of being sick and tired. Of course I had the financial stuff as well about $50,000 dollars in credit card debit, but it was the being lost in a world full of people that was the hard part.

My father had died six months before and he died young. I figured that I had about 20 more years to live so I should start living my life and the only way I was going to be able to do that was to stop gambling. The only way I had ever stopped before was to go to Gamblers anonymous; so I went. It was different this time, I felt like it was my last chance so I just gave into it. I did what was suggested. I went to 118 meetings my first 90 days, got a sponsor, worked the steps, learned how to feel again and express my emotions, I wanted to be a part of my own life and Gamblers Anonymous showed me how to do that; one day at a time.

Recovery has not been easy, there are emotional roller coasters, there are urges, and life still happens, but recovery is simple. I just wake up each day and say I'm not going to make a bet today, I still go to quite a few meetings because I know this addiction is always there for me if I don't work my program. Being a complusive gambler is something I will always be, just as my eyes are green, I am a complusive gambler and because of that I need to focus on my recovery so that my addiction doesn't try to step back into my life. Everything else falls into place and the relationships in my life have never been better. My daughter got her mother back, the mom that used to blow her off because my world was consumed either with when I would make my next bet or how I would cover this or that bill because I had thrown too much money away. I am now present in her life and we have a great relationship.

My brother resently told me that he was glad to have his sister back. He said that he really didn't realize that I had gone until he got me back. Life is good and I live it one day at a time.

I don't know if this is what you wanted to hear but it's my story. When my father died my mother, the complusive gambler, moved in with me and I still work in a casino which I have for twenty-five years. My life is complicated but all I have to think about is not making a bet today and everything else is easy.

Denise C
3 years 4 months and 15 days without a bet