I’ve suffered with gambling addiction for more than 10 years now. It falls just below its two mainstream cousins, drugs and alcohol, in the pecking order but can have equally as devastating effects on the individual and those around them. You see gambling addiction does not come with the physical signs that drugs and alcohol show, you can be seen as in control and no different than normal when in fact inside you may be falling apart. Gambling addicts can become ‘Hollywood’ actors to hide their problems, an alter-ego shows itself in public as in control and happy but the true self is destroyed inside and cannot get out.
“Gambling doesn’t involve you putting anything into your body but the mental stress and exhausting behavior can take years out of you.”
If you met me you probably wouldn’t be able to guess my illness. My upbringing may look, from the outside, stable but many things can mold you into the person you become. My childhood was littered with death, by the age of 25 I had lost both my parent, my grandparents and other relations through a variety of illnesses, most notably I lost my mother at a very early age and missed out on the love and attention a child would receive from their mother in probably the most important stages of my development from child to adult.
It was after I lost my last parent, my father, at the age of 25 that the cracks started to appear in my life…it didn’t grab me immediately but over the next 2 years I started to gamble. It was all quite innocent to begin with, a trip to the dogs with my mates or a few hours in the casino after a night out. But slowly it started to become something I only wanted to do alone and I became more secretive about where I was and what I was doing – it became ‘my world’.
That was 12 years ago. My addiction has led me to stop living my life in the way I would have liked to, my losses have been far greater than just money…. I lost the woman I loved and many friends, I was forced to sleep rough but more importantly I lost my self-respect and the feeling that life was worth living.
With all the chaos, much more than outlined here, I have been blessed in some way. Two close friends, brothers in spirit if not by blood, who stuck by me through thick and thin. They encouraged me into residential treatment in 2006 where I stayed for 10 months, since then I have been striving to live my life better…. it has been hard at times and any addict knows that good times can be coupled with bad times as well.
I sit back writing this thinking about the past and it hurts even now. I can feel myself re-living every moment, the pain and suffering still feels like it was yesterday. Gambling doesn’t involve you putting anything into your body but the mental stress and exhausting behavior can take years out of you.
The greatest strength can come from putting aside the fear and shame of what you are so that people can see the real you.
My name is Gareth Shipley and I am a Gambling Addict. The term ‘Gambling addiction’ or ‘Gambling Addict’ usually raises an eyebrow or two. Does it exist? Or are those that gamble aggressively and beyond their means just the foolish?
It exists. I hoped my account has helped.
If you have a problem with gambling and want support click here.