In response to a headline that read “Gambling addict steps in front of 75mph train” , I question how do you help this person to see a better outlook for their life?
There is a point at which we all feel let down, or that we’ve been beat. There are times we may even feel that we have nothing to contribute to the world. We question our purpose, our existence, and our meaning.
When we are in this negative space, many of us are able to bounce-back, and work through the negative thoughts until we arrive at a more positive space. However, for someone with an illness, such as a gambling addiction, it is difficult to find that happy space. That feeling of loss, failure, embarrassment, and fear are typical in the mind of a gambler as it creates a never-ending cycle of lack. Purely unattainable goals are continuously dangled before the addict, and then there is nothing that can provide a quick fix.
The impact(s) of gambling can be long-lasting. It is not as simple as merely making a decision to walk away from the habit, as some may believe. There is a filthy residue left that is visible on finances, family, friends or even one’s professional life. The likelihood that there are financial impacts that may not ever be recovered is high. At the worst state of gambling, financial debt has reached a point where it appears that it will be impossible to regain freedom.
What do you tell someone that is 50k in debt? What do you say when someone has gambled away the reserves or seed they had building for the better part of their life? What exactly does bouncing back look like for this person?
All that being considered, it might understandable why one might choose to end life as a solution. It might sound like the right decision, because gambling is an isolated series of decisions, that can lead to one’s own demise. It’s an act that can erase all the security someone has worked toward.
I want to share with anyone feeling hopeless about gambling to never give up. Despite all the wrong you may have done, those that love you do not want to see you go. Those who love you want better for you.
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt.”
Try the steps below to get started down a new path and regain control of your life.
- Acknowledge and Forgive. Once the addiction is acknowledged, the healing can begin. That healing begins with forgiving the decisions made, and the outcomes experienced as a result of those decisions. Blame that occurs with gambling is continuous. Especially if there is a tremendous loss in one’s perceived success (which is measured by money in most cases). Forgiveness means that you accept responsibility for your actions and give yourself permission to move forward without the daily blaming and negative self-talk.
- Talk to someone. If you have someone that is close to you, and that you can trust. Someone that is non-judgemental. If you do not have anyone you feel comfortable with, seek out a therapist or counselor. Tell them your truth. Addictions, especially gambling, can cause one to feel isolated – it becomes a very independent activity. Talking through your negative thoughts will provide an opportunity to vent, but also allow someone to help put those ideas into perspective.
- Get help. If a therapist or counselor have already been contacted you are on your way. However, if you chose to talk to someone close to you for step one, then the must-do for this step is to find a therapist or counselor that specializes in gambling addiction to assess your needs and develop a plan. These first two options help to keep you honest. Sometimes talking through the issue and having a plan (and contingency plan) can be effective.
- Wake up and pay attention. Gambling can cause a zombie-like state. One where there is no sense of time and no sense of being present. Sometimes you have to just stop, open your eyes and take an inventory of all the real things that matter – those things that give purpose to your life. Some say it’s stopping to smell the roses, but however you refer to the idea, you should stop and looks at your wife or your kids — be present with them and enjoy their company
- Put measures in place for change. Take steps to avoid further damage to your finances. If that means having someone else manage your money until you are able to resume managing your own finances again, that the step you must take. Decrease daily limits on credit cards. If you decide to tell someone close to you, like your spouse, they might be able to help by controlling all finances and use of debit/credit cards. This step seems to always make you think you are being treated as a child.
- Change your script. Okay, okay – you know you messed up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change. You have to get to a place of belief. You have to find power in believing things will be better. That is where it’s at…that is where you will find healing. Change how you see yourself and change how you speak to yourself. Speak positive to yourself.
Remember, there is hope, things can change and believe you will be better.
GamCare is the leading national provider of information, advice, support and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. Our expert services are confidential and non-judgemental.
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