The fellowship of Gamblers Anonymous is the outgrowth of a chance meeting between two men during the month of January in 1957. These men had a truly baffling history of trouble and misery due to an obsession to gamble. They began to meet regularly and as the months passed neither had returned to gambling.
As a young man, I was diagnosed as having a severe mood disorder. An illness now called major depression. At that time, no treatment was available, other than being locked up in a mental asylum. So I kept my problem secret, from my family, my friends and my employer. For some years I managed to live with my illness. I married, built a home, raised a family and was successful in my career.
Then I had to change careers and found myself in a very stressful situation where the illness became a problem. It was then, by chance, that I found that the black despair, of depression, disappeared when I could lose myself in the lights and sounds of a poker machine. I began buying my escape from depression, by gambling, more and more, until I became truly addicted to the gambling itself.
I stole the money to feed the machines and, eventually, my stealing was discovered. Tried the suicide solution but, fortunately, for me, I failed in that.
Went into a psychiatric clinic, found that there was now treatment for my illness and began my life again. At that time, my family said goodbye Ron, you are not the person we thought we knew.
But that is when I found G.A. and the fellowship and support of others who were recovering from their gambling problems. That was 16 years ago. I had 6 years without gambling, but busted, when I was told I had potentially fatal heart problems. When I went back to my local G.A. meeting, my recovery began again.
Today, 10 years later, I live a mostly contented life, free from gambling. The only thing I truly miss is contact with my family. Every day I thank my God for the help and serenity I have found in my Gamblers Anonymous meetings.
Despite sitting in front of a poker machine for up to 70 hours a week & ploughing more than $900 a week into the hungry machines (both mine & my husbands wage)
I told myself I was just having a “social” bet. It was not until I stole from my husband Dave’s “pot of gold” ($ coin jar) that I realized I had hit “my rock bottom” and I found out about GA & meetings.My journey to hell & back began innocently enough.My mother visited (on holiday from England) she played bingo and I found the venues that had ‘free’ bingo. I discovered the poker machines, I was hooked instantly.I was telling Dave I was off to play bingo when in fact I was off playing the pokies. As the months passed & my cravings became more intense I was able to convince Dave that now our two children had grown up & our finances were secure, I could give up work. ( I needed to spend more time at the club – work interfered). I would drive Dave to work & then head straight to the club waiting for it to open at 10am. I would even stop on the way there to get change so I did not have to waste valuable playing time changing notes into coins with the cashiers. Five minutes before I was due to pick Dave up I would jump in the car & speed off to his work, pretending I had been home all day. I became an expert at manipulating Dave into going to the club after his day at work. I’d put on this “poor me” act telling him my back was aching from sitting at home & that I had been SO bored. In the end he would ask me if I wanted to go to the club for a while. I was playing the machines at least 12 hours a day during the week- and most weekends. I controlled the finances completely I was able to use both wages to fuel my madness. When I gave up work & my gambling escalated I simply “dipped” into our considerable savings. I wanted no distractions or disturbances to either my valuable gambling time – or gambling money.I trained my bladder so I rarely had to go to the bathroom & I rarely ate: “God forbid I spend $2 on a hamburger when I could feed a machine. Friends slipped by the wayside as I spent every waking hour perched in front of a poker machine. Even exotic holidays failed to cure my addiction. After just two days in Cairns ( over 3000 Ks) I convinced Dave to drive straight back home to Sydney because it was “Boring”. (Cairns did not have Poker machines then). All our holiday money went into the machines at my local club. Finally after stealing from Dave’s “pot of Gold” ( his jar of $1 & $2 coins) I realized I needed help. My sanity marriage & future were on the line. I felt so low I knew Dave could not stand a liar or a thief – he would tolerate pretty much anything from the kids, but he wouldn’t take lying or thieving. At first it was easy to convince myself that I was just out to enjoy myself & fill in a bit of time while my husband was at work, but after countless times of telling myself “never again”, then scheming, lying. stealing to be able to get back in action as soon as possible, I came to realize that my life had become unmanageable.In desperation five years after I started to gamble I called Lifeline & was given the number for GA. After my first meeting on August 24th 1992 I realized I was not alone & I acknowledged I had a real problem. I have not had a bet of any kind since that day. When I “found” gambling it was a point of my life in which I needed something. It could have been drugs or drink, it could have been sex or shoplifting or eating. I picked what appeared to be a safe, socially acceptable escape – of course it wasn’t safe & once I got over a certain point it was not socially acceptable either. 14 years 7 months & 18 days later GA & I have made a remarkable turn around.After practicing the G.A. programme on a daily basis my addiction is in remission. X