Why do I gamble?

People gamble to have a good time.  You gamble to escape.  Or you need money, and gambling seems like the easiest means to make quick money.  You may have had a big win, once upon a time.  Proof that gambling works.  You remember that wonderful feeling of winning and the feeling of hope that life is getting better.  You felt like a lucky guy.  You’re convinced you could win again.  Instead, you start losing.  And, in spite of mounting losses, you turn to gambling.   The thrill of success fades.  You start to see the dark truth.  You’ve lost your winnings and now you’re in the hole.  This is the point when people start “chasing” their loses.  Another sign of a gambling problem: chasing.  Gambling to make up for the gambling losses.  Weird as it sounds, gambling seems like the solution to your gambling problem!  It’s a crazy place.  You know it.  But you can’t stop yourself.  Your life is unraveling.  Gambling is no longer fun.  You’ve become a problem gambler.

Gambler’s Anonymous 20 Questions

20 QUESTIONS to help you determine if you have a gambling problem.

Are you a compulsive gamble? Take the test! Please read these questions and answer Yes  or No.

  1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
  2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
  4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
  10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  12. Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
  13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
  14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
  15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
  16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
  18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
  19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Have you considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

     Most compulsive gamblers will answer ‘Yes’ to at least seven of these questions.

How can I help someone with a gambling problem?

If you are a family member or friend who knows someone with a gambling problem, getting help for yourself, is as important as getting help for the gambler.  You have options too.  This blog is for you, as well.  The whole family system is affected by the addict in the family, one way or another.  But if one person can change, if one person can get better, than the whole system is impacted in a positive way.  It’s common for family members to reach out for help first, before the addict.  This can be the beginning of the healing process in the family.

Where can I do for myself right now?

Work on being honest.  Watch for those moments when you’re totally honest with yourself.  Write down your thoughts and feelings.  Better yet, reach out to someone you trust, someone who cares and listens.  Get honest with a friend.  Tell them what’s going on.  This is really crucial.  Honesty is an opportunity to change.  Seize the moment.  Stay out of fear.  Your fears can’t be as bad as you imagine.  They’re just fears.  The reality is, this is the moment when you are startIng to get well.  This is a sign that you can change.  You’re finally being honest.

I remember getting sober.  It was really hard to be honest with myself and admit how much I suffered because of my drinking.  Nobody knew how bad it was, except me.  Getting honest was hard at first.  Don’t expect to feel comfortable right away.  It’s normal to feel irritable and confused when you start to break a bad habit.  You need to think.  Stay conscious.  Hang in there.  Work on willingness and willpower.  Continue to let people support you.   After you’ve stopped, at some point the nagging thoughts to relapse will go away.  Learn to “feel and deal.”  Find ways to cope.  Gradually, the idea of gambling will be less appealing because you won’t need to escape.  As the compulsion fades, you’ll start to feel relief.

I hope somehow my blog can help you find the courage and the willpower to overcome your problem.  Once you’ve stopped, and learned how to stay stopped, you never need to gamble again.  You’ll be free.  Good luck!

How can a blog help a problem gambler?

            If you are a problem gambler, hopefully, following my blog will encourage you to stop gambling or find help, if you can’t stop.  You have options.   Some gamblers are able to stop on their own.  Maybe you’re one of them.  Or, you might need a self-help group or professional help.  The question is: What are you willing to do in order to stop?   If you’re the friend or family member of a gambler, I encourage you to get help for yourself, first.  You have options as well.

None of us like to admit we have failed and need help.  If you’ve made it to my blog, you’re already starting to worry that your gambling is out of control.  You know you need to stop.  You see how you lie to yourself, and others.  Secrets are a symptom of an addiction.  The addiction tells us not to tell anyone.  The addiction wants to perpetuate itself.  Don’t listen to the addiction.  Listen for the healthy voice that tells you the truth.  The sooner you change your behaviors, the sooner you will have different outcomes.  You can stop if you want to.  Others have, so can you.

Tate, my Kerry Blue therapy dog

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  Tate is an Irish Kerry Blue Terrier.  He’s been working with me as a therapy dog since 2006.  I got him from the Rescue Service with the Kerry Blue Club of Southern California.  He had been working as a show dog in Los Angeles with a groomer who gave him up when he became ill and expensive to keep.  She told the Kerry Rescue Service he had a sensitive stomach.  I had him treated for his true malady which was “hook worms” and he easily segued from being an unloved, sick show dog to a much loved therapy dog. As one anxious client told me, “Tate makes it easier to talk about my problems.”