Bottoming out for good. Scott’s story.
Apr 14, 2022 | https://macgh.org/8376-2/
Here’s Scott’s story.
If you’ve ever been to Atlantic City, you know it’s an exciting place. High-rise hotels, famous nightclubs, and glitzy casinos line the boardwalk. As a young guy, Atlantic City had all the appeal of a fun spot to spend an evening and unwind.
At the casinos, these thrills were more enticing than I realized. That evening, I found myself glued to the gaming tables. I couldn’t get up and walk back to my room. I ended up gambling all night long.
When I visited Atlantic City, I’d been sober for about a year. Growing up, I had problems with drinking and drugs, but fortunately, the effects of these addictions hit me early and hard. I got into recovery programs and by all accounts, was doing well.
That night triggered another addiction that I’d fight for years: problem gambling.
Deep down, I knew that as a recovering alcoholic and drug user, finding and chasing other highs wasn’t a good idea. I swore to my girlfriend that I’d never gamble again.
Except I did. I started to chase, even sprint after the high of gambling. I started buying scratch tickets and visiting more casinos. And unlike my drinking or drug use, I didn’t seek recovery.
Several years later, I fell on tough times. That’s when my gambling got out of control. I didn’t have any close family or friends I could turn to, and instead, I turned to slot machines. I started going to casinos to play high-limit slot machines. Gambling became an escape and winning felt ecstatic. And like my night in Atlantic City, I found it harder and harder to walk away from the machines and the tables.
My life began to revolve around weekends at the casino. I drifted away from participating in 12-step recovery programs. I started spending money like it didn’t matter and racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. When I maxed out my credit cards, I sold personal possessions, trying to pay off the surging debts from each weekend’s worth of gambling. My relationships took a toll, too. I pushed many people away.
No wake-up call seemed to shake my habit. One day, I ended up hitting the slots and winning a huge jackpot but left the casino with only a few thousand in my pocket. Even refinancing my home to pay off my debts didn’t deter my gambling. The addiction had me by the throat, and I was powerless, unable to look past the upcoming weekend and my next bets.
The real jolt to the system was when I started thinking of doing something illegal to continue gambling. I realized I was helpless and hopeless. I was contemplating suicide.
Just 20 minutes later, one of my sisters called me. A friend of mine from one of the 12-step programs was worried about my wellbeing. He had called my family.
That was May 2008. I was in rough shape mentally and emotionally, but I got help. Through the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, I found a counselor. I’ve been fortunate to find some really important people in my life and got back on track with the 12-step programs for my addictions.
Since then, gambling has been a monkey on my shoulder. I’ve stayed as vigilant around gambling as I need to be around drinking or drugs. From the high highs to the low lows, I didn’t want to look at my gambling honestly until I reached a point of sheer desperation. When I got honest with myself, it became a weight lifted off my shoulders. My advice? Help yourself before you bottom out!
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If you or a loved one needs help and you live in the MA., Call Council’s Live-Chat or call the GamLine at
1-800-GAM-1234, 24/7. For everyone in the United States, visit The National Council on Problem Gambling look up your State Here: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/help-by-state/.
Or Call 24 Hour Confidential National Helpline