A Realization – Who, What, When and How?

When I look back now, I can honestly say I know why I kept slipping and going back into action time and time again. Many times in the past, I have started over and over when it came to trying to stop gambling and find something that would work to keep me clean from gambling and stay in recovery.

It was because of several things, to start I truly didn't understand why I could never gamble again. Just being told I have an addiction wasn't enough. My intelligent mind said I had the knowledge and will power to stop anything I was doing to myself that harmed me or caused me to suffer and grieve. But even that couldn't stop me from going back and gambling again and again. As much as I wanted and needed to stop, something inside of me, kept me going back over and over again. Causing me to be even more confused as to why I kept destroying my life and myself. All I knew was that I had to keep trying no matter how many times I busted. I had to pick myself up and start over harder and harder each time to work at not gambling. Every time I slipped, I felt worse and worse. The fear, hatefulness, anger, self-pity, just filled my body and soul more and more with each slip. It kept me blinded. Just accepting I had this addiction and believing that I had surrendered my will over to a higher power and the fact that I was a cg for life and having to change my lifestyle and go to meetings, still wasn’t enough. I just knew I couldn't give up on myself, cause if I did, that would have been the same as killing myself.

I couldn't quite figure out what I was doing wrong and why I couldn't get control over this addiction. So I knew I had to put everything I had into it, and seek out all the help that was available in order to find the answers and learn more about this baffling and insidious disease. I had to swallow my pride, find the courage and reach out and ask for even more real help. I needed professional help from the people who specialized in this disease.

Why was I a compulsive gambler? Sometimes we never really find out those answers but it was a driving force inside of me pushing me further towards a stronger recovery. The only way to find out the answers I was looking for, was to put myself into an in-house treatment program. I surrendered and gave total control of my life over to the professionals that could help me figure this all out and help me get back to a place where I could gain enough control and understanding to continue helping myself once I got back out on my own again. It took every ounce of courage inside of me to walk through that door and make the commitment to get honest, real recovery; knowing I would have to live it for the rest of my life.
I surrendered, kept an open mind, and stayed honest and willing to do whatever it was going to take to get my sanity and life back.

I believe in God, and He is my higher power. I have spent allot of days and nights praying, begging, pleading with Him to give me what I needed to stop gambling so that I could find some peace. After my slip on Oct. 24, 2004, He answered my prayers. That's when I realized in order to continue in the right direction, I had to go to Core South, an in-house Recovery Center that specializes in compulsive gambling. My Higher Power was hard at work showing me the way.

I have learned many things about this disease and have much more still to learn. There is no one answer to why I am a cg. It involves my whole life history, physically and emotionally.

I have learned that many cgs suffer from a diagnosis called DSM-IV-TR (Impulse control disorder). Individuals with the mental disorder suffer from recurrent failure to resist impulsive behaviors that may be harmful to themselves or others. During group therapy, the counselors gave us a vivid and complete detailed explanation of how this disorder works and how it affects my brain and my behavior. When the urges hit, it takes over the thinking part of the brain and over powers the logical/intelligent working process. All the reasons why I shouldn't be gambling, what will happen and all the reality of what my actions will result in, as well as not having the physical ability to turn that car around and go back home. That is just part of the problem, but knowing this has helped me to understand why I let my emotions control my actions.

Emotions are the other part of this disease that causes my compulsive gambling. Being that I suffer from this impulse control disorder; over time and being so deep into my addiction, I have learned how to run away from my emotions and dealing with my feelings about anything and everything in any sort of rational thinking process. Sure there was a time before gambling, when I could have handled my feelings better and in healthier ways but because of what my addiction has done to me, all that went right out of my head. Because of all the hurt, pain, humiliation, destruction and many past life experiences, my addiction had taken over my whole being. It became my obsession. I didn't know any other way of dealing with my emotions anymore other than to run away and escape to gambling. It became my survival technique. I didn't have to feel anything anymore as long as I could keep gambling. It wasn’t about the money, at least not for me. Maybe in the beginning it was. Money is just what fed my addiction. It no longer had any value. Neither does anything else, when you are so deep into this addiction. Gambling slowly takes it all. There were times in my life where I dealt with my emotions in other ways, like over eating, obsessive house cleaning, being obsessive with organizing and smoking excessively. These are just a few of the others compulsions that I have. But once I discovered gambling, everything else became second to my gambling addiction.

It is an extremely powerful and insidious disease. Gambling is the worst addiction we can possibly have. When we are gambling, we don't think about the problems in our lives. We don't think about the relationships we have lost, or the loved ones that have died. Gambling is not some kind of chemical we put into our bodies to give us that dopamine rush, like other chemicals and drugs do. We get the high naturally thru gambling. That's the rush we feel, when in action. We have a false sense of feeling good and therefore think irrationally as if nothing is wrong in our lives. But it is just a temporary fix. After we go thru the cycle and come down, our minds are forced to go back to what is real. That is when we see the damage we have done and all that pain and hopelessness comes flooding back into our minds and we can’t figure out what we have done or why. We come back down to earth and again feeling worse than we did before we gambled.

This is where the behavior modification comes in and it is necessary. The cognitive thinking, (A highly structured psychotherapeutic method used to alter distorted attitudes and problem behavior by identifying and replacing negative inaccurate thoughts and changing the rewards for behaviors.) We have to change our way of thinking. We have to behave and reward ourselves in positive healthy ways that are real. We have to live it everyday and stay aware of what this addiction will do to us. We have to find others just like us, who want to stop this disease from destroying their lives and work together in unity as a group to fight the urges and offer support and other ways to stay in recovery.

That is why GA has been so successful. It has the steps for us to be able to do all these things and maintain abstinence. For some, GA is enough, for many others it’s not. They have to go to the extreme to find the answers to fight this addiction, like I am doing. Still, I needed something even more. I need my faith and belief in God. This is a vital part of my recovery. When I don't have the strength or feel weak, He is there to show me the way. I truly believe that.

I have to live like this for the rest of my life. I literally have to modify my behavior, change my negative thinking to positive and give up the fantasy life of gambling. That is the reality. I have to live life on life's terms and make the best of a worst situation. Stop, look, listen, feel and really think of a way out of the urges to gamble.

Keep your support close at hand, make new friends, and stay away from places that have gambling, no matter what!! There is no excuse for putting ourselves at risk and causing temptation. That is abusive and torturous. To have peace of mind, happiness, and live a better life, the answers are simple and are fairly easy. Getting to an understanding and doing the work is the part that’s hard, but worth it.

Only you can do that for yourself. If I can do it, we all can. When you have an urge to gamble, think hard why you want to go and cause more damage, only to feel worse when it's all over with. Give yourself a KISS, Keep It Simply Simple.

I know now what I have to do to never gamble again. I had not had an urge to gamble since before I became better educated in what this addiction really is and what being a compulsive gambler means. Which also means, today I am even more aware of how insidious it really is. On Jan. 8, 2005, I had a lapse. I thought I had worked hard enough previous of that day to keep me aware of just how strong and dangerous this addiction can be. I keep my bag of tools on me wherever I go and just when I think it is full, I discover there is always room for one more tool that works and add it to my tool bag.

And I pray....
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Please grab hold of yourself and hold on tight to your own recovery, never give up on yourself. I'm so glad I kept coming back and still do everyday.

Written in Dec. 2004 (revised Jan. 21, 2005)

Wednesday January 26, 2005
02:24 AM EST



Lilaud... Thank you again for your honesty. It's a great reminder to me that, although how we all have suffered in different ways, the road to recovery is basically the same. We can't just "quit". It's not enough to make us healthy. We have to make changes in our lives, and in our thinking. Forever.
Take care


Thanks Shelly! Much Appreciated Hugs lilaud