I was wondering if anyone would like to share their experiences with newcomers.
-- What usually causes "triggers" for you?
-- What do you use to fight off the urges?
-- Did you find relapse common in the first few months of recovery?
-- When you find yourself succeeding, do negative memories of the past (people, events) unconsciously enter your mind?
Any feedback would be appreciated.
I gamble in the stock market so my triggers are:
1. Having what I perceive as surplus cash.
2. Seeing the stock tickers either on TV or the Internet.
I'm what is known as a "binge gambler". That means I can go for long periods of time without gambling. This leads me to a false sense of control which is quite insidious. When my triggers are there I can pretty much lose my mind and do things no sane person would do.
What causes triggers for me?
I'm learning now that it's all about emotions. When someone says something that I don't agree with, when someone doesn't agree with me, when someone makes petty remarks...then there's stress...insecurity, inadequacy, boredom. But now when I think about it, very few things bother me anymore. There's the adage, "Don't sweat the small stuff. And they're all small." A lot of things used to cause triggers for me. But now I'm happy with the person I'm. People can think, say or do what they want, I just happily move along with my goals in life.
How do I fight off the urges?
I do get urges, especially when things don't go as expected. The way I fight them off is to take a deep breath and say to myself, "That's the way life is. Stuff happens. I have to deal with them." If I gamble, it means I'm avoiding my responsibilities. I've done it too many times in the past, it's time to face reality.
This came about when I became "self-aware." I'm aware of how my actions or inaction affect my emotions. I'm also aware of how my actions and inactions affect those around me.
Everyday I tell myself that I'm a good person, a hard working person, a deserving person. This, for me anyway, reduces some of the urges.
Did I find relapse common in the first few months of recovery?
I certainly did. When we try to change something, it doesn't happen right away. It's like constructing a building from scratch. There are a lot of work and pieces involved. The process isn't always on schedule but knowing what we want as the final product helps. I relapsed several times in my first 12 months. But the relapse and the time spent dwelling on it were shorter each time and I forgave myself much quicker after each relapse. "It's life. I'm human. I make mistakes. I'll try not to make them again. It's time to move one."
When you find yourself succeeding, do negative memories of the past (people, events) unconsciously enter your mind?
For some strange reason, THIS DOES HAPPEN! Before, I would sometimes see faces of people or automatically recall negative events in my mind. I don't know why this happened. The way I dealt with the problem was to tell myself that I made mistakes and if I did anything wrong to anybody, please forgive me. Then as time went on, I was able to forgive myself. I think the main objective of every problem gambler is seek a state of peace, where they do not feel obligated or dependent on anyone for their happiness. Being at peace for me also means that I'm facing my problems, and facing people but doing it in a professional way as not to cause stress. For me, it also means getting along with people, being humble and respecting their opinions and accepting them for who they are, especially accepting myself for who I'm.
As a former compulsive gambler, I was filled with turmoil, then I stopped and peace eventually returned to my life. At first I wasn't used to this peace; in fact I had a relapse in the midst of this peace. The relapse cost me one day and $100. During the relapse, I had money at my disposal which I could have gambled with but didn't. Because as soon as I left the casino, I was self-aware. I weighted the pros and cons and I could rationalize my decision. I thought about my mistake and why I did it, but I never beat myself up over my mistake .
My suggestion? DON'T TEST YOURSELF. We know gambling is, financially and emotionally, a losing game. We know from experience, we don't need any affirmation.
I have a major gambling problem. I blow a lot of money and so does my husband. If I am not wanting to go to the Casino my husband is. I have tried planing other events but we always catch our self driving to the Casino. When we loose our money we come home upset and blame each other for wanting to go. I lie, I use credit cards, I us all my bank cards to get out that extra hundred. Does anyone have any advice for me? I tried praying but that does not seam to help.
Sounds like the same trouble as my wife and I have. We sit around asking each other what do you want to do and it inevitably comes down to going to the casino. It is fun - but not when you are a problem gambler. I can play the penny slot for an hour or two to keep myself amused. But my wife is mesmerized by the slots and will keep going all night at the same machine. Even if she is up big she wont cash out and go home unless I drag her away. I have lost my life savings gambling (not in casinos - in stock market) it is horrible. Sounds like you guys are noticing how this disease takes over your life - save yourselves NOW while you still can. If you have lost - FORGET ABOUT IT NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT EATS AT YOU. DO NOT TRY TO WIN IT BACK. You will only sink deeper into more misery and hopelessness. You need to find another outlet to spend time with your husband, movies, socialize, tennis, whatever... just break the pattern that you are falling into. If you have a GA nearby then go and talk to the people there. They will have advice also.
Get out while you still can,
Perhaps you have found the root of the problem here in your post. Maybe the problem is in the 'needing other people's praise' to make you feel 'good' about yourself.
In my opinion, it is not a case of 'Admitting who you are' but should be a case of 'Knowing who you are'. By that I mean, knowing that you are a 'worthy' person. Knowing that you 'deserve' a happy and productive life. Knowing your 'true' value as a human being.
As Honesty said, you sound like a very smart person, and I second that. Ask yourself some questions... What is it that makes you 'need' other peoples praise? Why should you not praise yourself when you deserve it? Why should you not feel good about yourself for 'you'? What is it that you need to 'prove' to other people?
And, I would like to ask you two questions... Were you in a situation as a child, whereby you 'had' to try to prove yourself to one, or both of you parents? Did you feel as a child that you were never 'good' enough? Don't worry too much about the money you owe casinos or the credit card companies. They are both in the gambling business... Most times they win... sometimes they lose.
Also remember: "The only way to make money in a casino, is to 'own' one." Steve Wynn.
I just showed my husband your article which i think was great. he tells me I have the gambling problem not him. he has lost thousands and thousands of dollars in the stock market but he will not admit he has a problem. every time I try to quit thinking about the casino he keeps bringing it up. he says lets go to the casino boat it won't hurt us, we find ourselves going again. I guess I am fighting a loosing battle.
Thank you for your help.
You need to support each other - and hopefully you both do some soul-searching and honestly assess your lives and where you want your futures to end up - hopefully not broke and full of despair - which is where gambling (whether on casinos, stocks, or whatever will lead to - if you gamble more than you can afford)
I am 46. I got married last year to a wonderful gal. We were all ready to buy a house, settle down, start a family. I was the happiest ever in my life. I didn't quite have enough for the 20% down-payment on a mortgage for our house and the stock market was doing well at the time. So I took $50,000 that I had saved for the house and bought some stocks on margin thinking I could quickly double it to get to the 20% I needed. Right after that the market went south - I lost everything. Being in the panicking gambler state that I was in I had to get that money back. So I talked my mother into lending me $100,000. I put that in the market and after a couple of months lost that too.
Now I am broke, my life savings is gone and the joy of living is gone. My wife asked me today if I wanted to have kids. I couldn't answer her. It killed me. Of course I want kids but I do not know how we could afford it now. My life is pretty much ruined. Hold on to what you have, be smart, don't let gambling ruin your lives too.
It sounds to me that you are taking the first step and admitting you have a problem. It may take your husband some time or it may never happen but YOU have to take the first step. Find a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in your area and go. Don't try to drag your husband because that will make him resist even more. Give the meetings some time (at least 90 days) which sounds like a long time but think how fast the last three months have gone. If after 90 days you feel that GA is NOT helping then find something else but don't pressure your husband he may never find the right time. It is your decision. Please think of it this way; each time you put your hard earned money into one of those slot machines a little piece of your life disappears with it. Take control now before you regret it. Please take it from me I am 39 years old and I have lost everything to gambling. I wish you the best and take it one day at a time.
JanKen and genef,
Welcome and congratulations. You have made the first step towards stopping gambling. I see that both of you are blaming your partners. The first thing you need to do, is take full responsibility for your own actions. On this site you will find a mixed bag of suggestions on 'how' to quit gambling. Read through the posts and decide which method might be right for you. As Paulie D said, you may want to try Gamblers Anonymous, or you might want to try Self-Help psychology, or finding your God, or any combination of methods.
Personally, I do not see addictive gambling as a 'disease' any more than being an alcoholic, smoking cigarettes, or doing heroin, cocaine etc are diseases. They are addictions, or compulsions. Unless one is devoutly religious, I doubt that prayer will help much, but it may? If one were devoutly religious it is unlikely they would be gambling in the first place.
I think in the case of a 'couple' with gambling problems, it is imperative that they work at quitting together! To sit down and promise each other that you are NOT going to blame each other. That you are going to work at this 'together' and not be beaten by it. Make it a war, the two of you against gambling addiction. Do not allow negative thoughts or ideas to come into conversations. Make lists of things you want/need to get with the money you 'would' have lost. Make those things 'Targets'. The targets will be a move in a positive direction.
In all Life problems it is a good idea to sit down and think of the worst scenario. Accept that the worst scenario is possible, then do everything in your power to make sure that worst scenario does NOT happen. This way, we turn negative thinking into positive action!
The worst scenario in your cases, is that you return to the casino, stock market or whatever... Do everything in your combined powers to make sure that does NOT happen!
Well put. If I had thought of worse case before I got into this mess I might not have made those fatal mistakes. Good advice. Of course that's the power of this addiction. It makes normal sane people think illogically. On a normal day I'll drive an extra half mile to find a gas station selling for 2 cents less a gallon. But when gambling my thinking becomes so warped that thousands of dollars becomes play money. It's insidious. But I have gone to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting last week and will continue to. I have also seen a psychiatrist and went to 4 sessions with therapists. Next week I have an appointment with a gambling counselor. I regret what has happened to my life - but I finally woke up and am seeking help (even finding this website with all you wonderful people). I still have my loving wife and my job so it's not as hard on me as some others. However, financially I am close to bankruptcy after 20 years of hard work all for nothing. And emotionally I am drained.
Thanks for listening. If I can help one person avoid the misery that gambling addiction leads to then it makes my life seem hopeful again.
Hugs all around,