Quitting Gambling Addiction Before It's Too Late
I am a binge gambler, which means that 90% of the time I appear well-functioning in my daily job and life. But then I go to the casino and start playing cards and could/would not stop. I have played 24-36 hours straight at a time, never staying within the limits I set. I would cash advance from my credit cards, trying to chase losses. I estimate that over the last 15 years, I have probably lost over 120k.
I try not to dwell on the math since that would only encourage me to try to chase it back. I would burn though my savings and then once I built it back up, the cycle repeats itself. My problem has progressively gotten worse, especially in the last several years since my son is now an adult and I no longer have to stay on a schedule, and can more easily hide my gambling when I am at the casino at all hours.
I don't think any of my friends or family know my addiction (they still think it's recreational when I "play"). I have tried to quit on my own several times, unsuccessfully, of course. I have searched online for advice, and sometimes that would help for the time-being. I attended a few GA meetings, but stopped when I recognized the spouse of a gambler (someone I know from my job) at the open meeting.
I know these meetings are supposed to be anonymous, but I am afraid she would judge me or look at me differently from that point on. Of course, my ability to share freely was completely taken away. I have a reputation that I want to protect. I feel that only the addict is fully capable of understanding the addiction.
People think dealing with gambling addiction is as simple as just not going to a casino or placing a bet. Unlike drug addictions with an obvious chemical component, it's difficult for others to comprehend how a "game" can be so detrimental to someone's mental and physical well-being. I have already put myself on the state self-exclusion list for the casinos near my house. I placed myself on the one-year exclusion. On the anniversary, I went to play, seeing if I have changed. Predictably, I lost.
In that one visit, I lost the most that I have ever lost (up to that point). I put myself back on the exclusion list. Since I am an addict, I managed to find other venues to gamble. In recent months, I started driving to the Indian casinos that are several hours from my house. I go less often because of the distance, but I end up losing so much more money. In the past, when I got too tired, I allow myself to go home and rest (which sometimes means I come to my senses and cut my losses). Now, I feel the need to chase everything back within that single trip.
In the last two visits, I have lost over $35K. This is a significant leap from my previous losses, which I would cap at $5K. To cover the recent losses, I have depleted my son's college account. At the time, I justified that he can always take out a student loan. By doing so, I feel I have crossed a line, and that the next line I cross may be to deplete my retirement account.
I am truly afraid that if I don't get control over my addiction, I will destroy my life and cannot ever recover. I am also afraid that I will spend the rest of my life unable to trust myself. I need to know how I can permanently cure my addiction, and not live life with a black cloud hanging over me.