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Gambling Addiction - Ruining lives

  • 13-06-2022 1:33pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3

    Going un-reg for this.

    Partially seeking advice from people that may have some knowledge of a similar situation, partially as a place to air thoughts.

    I'm a gambling addict. Probably have been for most of my adult life. Worked in the industry at a young age and gradually fell into all the trappings imaginable. Lived paycheck to paycheck for all of my twenties, foregoing so many opportunities others may have had. A lot of my friends would have known, but not known. I almost always kept it secret, whether I was winning or losing - and I guess I could joke off anything if it resembled a real enquiry. It was always something of a crutch for me, a way to escape anxiety, or stimulate my brain when bored, and then once I started, I'd be hooked and not have control to stop.

    In my early 30s, I found myself in a relationship. At this point, I was a bit more aware of my problem, but refused to address it, or share any info on it, thinking me smarter than the game, and considering myself a recreational punter or whatever I wanted to call it. I'd find ways to dodge questions, and manouver date night etc in a way to make it viable, I was just living a lie. Partner bought accommodation while we were together, and I moved in as a tenant. I paid a very small sum towards rent and bills over the next couple of years.

    Once or twice, I'd have seemed sketchy, as I'd be awkward around money conversations. I'd get very cagey about money obviously, and turn down the conversation, nearly making my partner feel like they were wrong for asking. Or they'd just think I was a moody SOB. Partner put money into the house, and I did the bare minimum. At this stage, I'd borrowed money from banks, relatives, friends, and was finding ways to pay them back and keep everything underwraps all at once. My partner never knew any of this.

    Eventually, about 18 months ago, it all came out, explosively. I came to understand it wasn't just my life I was impacting, but ours. My destructive habit was destroying a future. By some blessing, my partner stuck with me; ensured I repaid my debts, helped me seek professional help, helped me structure my finances etc, and sort out other things in my life.

    Over the next year, life got better. I gained better control of my mood, I repaid my debts to everyone, repaired relationships that I'd strained. I stayed off gambling, and entered GA (as well as frequent counsellor sessions).

    My relationship with my partner improved, I'd developed savings, and we started talking about our future together.

    Couple of months ago, I was feeling anxious/aware that this future together was going to require more money than I had, and I was mindful of my partner having to contribute more to these things than me, some inadequate twig in my brain snapped and I had a slip. I think I was looking for some sort of deluded shortcut.

    Again, I kept it hidden, "it was a once off" I told myself. That slip graduated into a relapse. Slowly chipped away at all my savings. The whole while we were moving closer towards our future, I was jeopardising it, all the while rationalising it with myself that something could be salvaged. I can't even explain what motivated me to step back in to it, it was a completely irrationa decision.

    It came out in an argument with my partner recently, and they're devastated.

    I've broken their trust, again. I've been deceitful, again, and this time I've jeopardised their happiness, their future - AFTER they'd put so much faith in me.

    I've likely destroyed anyone's trust in me forever, and that's no less than I deserve.

    But, I don't know what I can do to help limit the damage I've done to my partner. I never thought I'd be capable of causing someone so much hurt, especially after such a clear warning 18 months earlier.

    We were making so many good moves towards a future, and my weakness/stupidity/selfishness and everything else has turned it on it's head.

    I just feel lost, because I know I can look nowhere else for blame, and the only person I can make steps to help is myself, which makes me feel even more selfish as the damage I've done them likely outweighs my own.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,057 ✭✭✭wildwillow

    You haven't said if your girlfriend is willing to remain in the relationship. She needs to know that you will never be absolutely safe with money.

    As Fred Astaire says you need to put temptation out of your way and lose control of your money.

    A friend of my brother's got into real difficult years ago, before the scourge of internet betting. His friends actually got together and encouraged him to sign in for residential care and looked after his wife and family for the duration. Do you have anyone who can help keep you gambling free?

    He has remained clear of gambling since but his wife still holds the purse strings and he is happy with an allowance.

    I guess it is almost impossible to completely change without great support.

    I do hope you can decide which future you want to live and have the strength to keep your resolutions.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,605 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    OP have you tried getting in touch with Gamblers Anonymous?Have a read of their website and see if you can go about contacting them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 483 ✭✭Fred Astaire

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 Losing Streak

    Thanks for all the responses.

    Yes, I've been going to GA, but in the last couple of weeks, just found myself sharing less and hiding more.

    I've also been to professional counselling, and it definitely help, gave me a better understanding of it, but by my most recent session I'd started to slip and even hid that from them because I felt ashamed, and thought it was salvagable.

    So much of this is about irrational thinking, and after all the reading and research I did during my recovery last year, I still can't get over how that wasn't enough to keep me on the right track.

    I know all about the Access Time Money guidelines etc, and I know they'll be on my new roadmap.

    I can't speak for what happens to my relationship. I know what I want, but it's very hard to articulate the level of hurt this has caused. It's out of my hands now. I don't want to feel like this any more, no matter what happens, I'll be taking the steps to try correct it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 70 ✭✭RojaStar

    I would imagine that like any addiction, slip ups can be part of the recovery journey for many people. It's about how quickly after the slip up you can get back on the horse as it were, as opposed to hitting the f#@k it button and losing it completely for a period of time. The measures suggested to self-exclude yourself where possible sound like a good idea. The more barriers you can put in place now when you're thinking clearly, the better. Best of luck with it OP.

  • Registered Users Posts: 582 ✭✭✭Lad GAGA

    As someone else mentioned earlier gambling is a huge issue in this country and with online gambling in particular it is so much easier to fall into the trap and to keep it hidden. Unfortunately it is a terrible disease/illness and I think it stays with people for their lives. I heard of someone who got specialised, expensive treatment where essentially they almost had to reconstruct the thought processes in his brain to curb his gambling compulsion. It has worked to date but I'm not sure that it will ever fully go away.

    I think you deserve a lot of credit to have taken the steps you have taken to this point and to have swung your life around (a lot of gamblers never get that far). Its a shame you had that slip but at least you have owned up to it and you seem to understand why it happened. Hopefully your partner will see all that you've done and will stay with you, her support and what she brings to your life is really important to bring meaning and purpose to your life and gives you real motivation to try and control your addiction. Honesty is really key for your relationship to survive. It is very evident you love her and I hope you can get through this next while.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3 Losing Streak

    Thanks for the response Lad.

    I've said it to those around me - no such thing as a recovered addict, just one still in recovery. It is life-long, but can be managed. So I get your point about it never going away, but there's another part of me that thinks, if I can just make sure that first bet doesn't come, then the rest don't follow.

    That something told me I was ok to place a bet (for whatever reason) after 15 months of discipline is still leaving me bewildered.

    With regards to taking credit, I'm not so sure right now. As I said, I did a lot of hard work when it initially came out, and spend the next year+ getting back on track, because I'd gained a proper understanding of what it had done to me and to the important people around me, that I'd never properly appreciated before. I can't make those same claims this time. And while I've used the word "slip", it's a full relapse, and it brought back all the same negative behaviours (both in gambling habits and in my personal life). Even in the space of the last week or so, I don't think there's any one reason why I can pinpoint to as the cause of the relapse. I jump between so many reasons to see which one I can attack and blame, but other times I think the main reason I'm a gambling addict is because I placed that first bet.

    I'm setting up measures of control (A T M), and support sessions etc, and going right back to the basics that worked initially.

  • Registered Users Posts: 437 ✭✭Girl Geraldine

    I think there needs to be some service there for gambling addicts like a kind of gamblers bank account where your wages or income go in there but money is only released to you on a very rationed basis where you can prove why and where you need to spend money on necessities.

    But I think even this could be abused and circumvented. For instance, buying a new laptop for college, or buying a car, only to sell for cash and proceed to piss it down the sh!tter in bookies or online.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,860 ✭✭✭Pissy Missy

    Sounds like you felt inadequate, pressurised and guilt when comparing the financial situation to your partner and ye're future and with gambling already being a massive part of your recent life, your comfort, your coping mechanism etc it makes sense why you'd open that door again with the possibility of 'making up' financially.

    I'm just wondering, have you robbed money from your partner, family etc or did you just betray the trust of lying (and not also stealing)?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 34,628 ✭✭✭✭BorneTobyWilde

    I don't get gambling, as you're not allowed to win. If you win they ban you, if you lose they take and take. It's like legal robbery . Anyone can make a fortune on paper gambling, but it's impossible to put it into practice in reality

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,728 ✭✭✭Motivator

    I fell into it years ago and thankfully got myself out of it fairly quickly. I always loved a bet and was known for it when I was in school and college. It was seen as a cool thing when we were younger, I probably played up on that aspect of it too. It made me a bit braver. Now, back in school €20 was a big bet for me - in college €100 was a big bet but I was getting lucky and winning a few quid. Then I’d roll the winnings over to try and win big. Sometimes it paid off but sometimes it didn’t.

    Around 24 or 25 years of age I had slipped into a bad frame of mind which ultimately led to a nervous breakdown. Gambling hard a part to play in that breakdown but the main cause was the breakup of a relationship, that was not related to gambling. Funnily enough as I write this, the relationship actually ended this week although a few years ago now at this stage. But that was the start of a downward spiral for me. People were on the lookout for me with my drinking but I was never a big drinker, but people thought if I wasn’t drinking then I was fine. That wasn’t the case at all though. I was spending all my time in the bookies or on my phone gambling and at one stage I had 8 different betting accounts as well as punting in cash. I went on a good run and won probably €10k over the space of two weeks in the Summer, all off of relatively small money invested.

    I hit a bad patch then as all gamblers do and started blowing money left right and centre. Now, I was lucky that I was punting with my own money. I never borrowed or stole money to gamble which doesn’t make it right but it certainly made things an awful lot easier. There was no gradual build up or lightbulb moment for me to get help or anything, I actually never got help. I was on such a downward spiral in terms of my mental health that I won €7k on Saturday in the Autumn and just decided I needed to get away from my life at home. I was waiting for my money to be counted out in the bookies and the lightbulb moment for me was just to book a flight and go travelling. No plan, no nothing just book a flight and go. I had the cash and I just wanted a break from the humdrum of what life was like for me at the time. I had no relationship anymore and I remember getting a takeaway on the way home that night and rehearsing what I was going to say to my parents.

    I just came out and said that I was heading away for a while. My dad was aware I was gambling so he asked if I owed anybody money or if I was in trouble with people over money. When I said I wasn’t, and I was being honest, he shook my hand and said for me to come back when I was better. He knew I was gambling and he knew how fragile I was mentally. I’ve skipped over the mental health issues as I don’t really want to go into them but he knew I was hurting and he knew I had to get away from everything.

    That was a Saturday night, I quit my job first thing Monday morning and I was on a plane on the Tuesday. I arrived in a country where online gambling was blocked at the time, no bookies and no casinos for a few hours drive - perfect. I got my head sorted out and more or less forgot about gambling for a good few months. It was Super Bowl time before I realised I wanted a bet but at that stage, after 3 or 4 months the buzz wasn’t there anymore. I had weaned myself off it and apart from one dodgy enough spell about 18 months ago, I haven’t looked back.

    I’ve never attended counselling or anything for gambling but I have for mental health issues. I was lucky in so far as I never borrowed or stole from anyone to feed my habit but looking back, I deprived myself of having nights out etc. with friends when I was in the losing streaks but look it could have been so much worse. I never got to the point of utter desperation with gambling thankfully but I was a total addict and I was heading down a bad road. I believe if I hadn’t won the €7k that one day, I could have been in serious serious trouble not long after. That €7k was the turning point in my life.

    I would have the very odd bet nowadays, €5 or €10 cash only and only on golf or a hurling game. Always placed by someone else. I’m happy with how my life is now and it’s only looking back I realise what a mess I was after getting myself into. I’m lucky that I didn’t borrow or steal and I’m lucky I got myself out of a tricky situation. I’m lucky that now I don’t really have any urge to go back to the way I was. The winning days were great, no better feeling. The bad days were bad and that’s what I think of whenever the urge comes, and it does come every once and while.

    Best of luck to anyone who is having or has had problems -mod snip-


    Mod Edit

    @Motivator although well meaning offering or sending PMs on the back of a thread in PI/RI is against the Charter here with the wellbeing of both parties in mind. Please don't do it going forward.


    Post edited by Hannibal_Smith on

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,873 ✭✭✭✭callaway92

    Unfortunately for the majority, the disease never goes away like that.

    That makes it all sound too simplistic. Some people need the actual help and don’t have the option of heading away travelling.

    Also, most almost certainly need to give it up completely. Having bets here and there is allowing for a collapse back into things.

    The story above being a complete minority wouldn’t help the OP to be frank

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators Posts: 12,062 Mod ✭✭✭✭JupiterKid

    As a recovering alcoholic now 3.5 years sober, I really empathise with gambling addicts as I shared rehabs with quite a few and heard at first hand in group therapy the hidden compulsions and the devastation it wreaks on families and the affected individual. Unlike substances such as alcohol and other drugs, a gambling addiction can be much easier to hide which makes it worse in many ways.

    Thankfully gambling just never appealed to me - I would have played a few poker games for small money with mates, gone to one or two casinos when abroad for a"flutter" and put a couple of euro on the greyhounds on a night out years back. Never even bet on a horse in my life.

    My grandfather did, however, have a gambling addiction and it negatively affected my dad, uncle and grandmother back in the 1950s when my dad was a young lad and experienced hardship as a result of my granddad's compulsive gambling. As a result, my dad was very anti-gambling when I was growing up - he would not play the lottery or even play a game of cards with my sisters and I for fun, for example.

    My grandfather continued to gamble on the horses, football and the dogs right up to the day he died in 2000 - although it seemed to be in control in his latter years compared to how bad it was in the 1950s.

    A good acquaintance of mine is a gambling addict in recovery. He was in total denial for a long time and would ignore or lash out at words of concern - but the final straw was when his wife kicked him out of the family home (they have two young children) and he got help in rehab and then GA meetings. He's doing okay now but as with all addicts (myself included), you do wonder.

    I think it is a complete scandal how many adverts are on the TV (especially late at night) and online for online gambling platforms. I believe these should be banned for a start, the industry properly regulated as we are facing big problems ahead if not addressed. With online platforms, gambling your money away these days is just a few simple clicks of a button or mouse.

    The house always wins.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,039 ✭✭✭DubCount

    I think the education around gambling is very poor. The house always wins, but how does the house win. Gambling can be addictive but what psychological forces cause it to be addictive. Why chasing losses is a dangerous road. What turns a fiver bet on the grand national into losing the family home. What are the warning signs for when a "passtime" becomes a "problem".

    We have lots of education programs warning young people about drugs, but I dont see much about gambling. Statements like "gamble responsibly" are meaningless without telling people how to gamble responsible and how to know when you are not gambling responsibly.

    Good luck to all those recovering - I am fortunate to have never been a victim, but recognise the extraordinary effort it takes to beat an addiction.