Roger is a gambling addict. Once he starts gambling, his repeated experience is that he can’t stop. His addiction takes over. He cannot gamble sensibly. He is a compulsive gambler, an addict.
His gambling problems do not begin with a bookmaker or in a casino. His gambling addiction is part of him. He has a compulsive nature.
He is highly talented. In the rag trade, he had made a million by the age of 25. He had a trophy wife, a fine home, a posh car and loadsa money to spend on ‘toys’, the ‘must have’ trinkets that made him feel special.
But then he discovered casinos and bookmakers and his gambling problem took off. He tried to control his betting but his stakes increased. He was soon clearly addicted to gambling, and possibly to alcohol and cigarette smoking as well, although he would not admit it. He complained that he was stressed.
Playing poker online started to take over from other gambling experiences. He hoped he would be safe, out of the clutches of the bookies and croupiers, but the amount he lost grew with each game. His problems increased.
He lost the support of his wife when he emptied their joint account at the bank where they were saving for school fees and holidays.
He then gambled with cash taken from his work. But soon he was losing more than he was earning. So he began to steal. As an addicted gambler who had lost control, he couldn’t stop.
Eventually he contacted me through my website and he found it helpful to talk to a gambling addict like me (even though my gambling was on property rather than in casions or online), who had found a way to deal with a gambling problem.
Sheila was an alcoholic for many years and had discovered Alcoholics Anonymous. She met other addicts who also dealt with other addictions through similar anonymous groups. She began to see that anything can be addictive. Using a drug or alcohol, primarily to change feelings, was no more dangerous than eating excessively or using obsessive sex or other compulsive relationships.
But despite her knowledge, she began to gamble on the Internet – just an occasional punt here or there. But, for her, a card was a drug. She went from two bets a week to two bets a day and then, later, to twenty bets a day. She knew that this was problem gambling. Now she recognised that she was a gambling addict.
She had legal problems when she couldn’t pay her bills and she got further into debt.
Like any other addict, she was eventually in so much pain, emotionally, financially and socially, that she asked for counselling. She wanted advice on how she could learn to gamble, or drink or use other addictive substances sensibly.
I explained that there was no way back. She had crossed the line. She felt under attack and said that all she wanted was to be able to have the occasional tipple or flutter. I said that her own experience showed that this had not been possible in the past and was unlikely to be possible in the future.
Her parents allowed her to borrow money from them for one good reason only: to get intensive private addiction treatment from me for all her addictive behaviour at the same time. Otherwise, as I explained, she would probably go from one addiction to another for the rest of her life. She deserved to have a chance to spend a happier life than that.