Comment: Are problem gamblers just weak willed?

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ARE problem gamblers just weak willed, selfish, greedy or are they sick with addiction?

In my case being weak willed could be a pretty good description of someone who had a history of panicking in the face of pressure long before my gambling problems ever surfaced.

But what I have learned is that by accusing someone with addiction or compulsive issues of being weak willed, you may find you convince them that you’re right.

In which case there is no point them trying to stop. You are probably telling them something they are already well aware of and supporting their belief that it is useless to try.

For me recovery started when I surrounded myself with people who impressed on me the notion that in fact I was strong willed and that with the help of others recovering from addict or compulsion, I could halt the destructive lifestyle and turn my life around.

With a new found sense of self-worth and a support network of both family and friends, instead of reminding me of my past, they focused only on the present and gave me the tools to keep my recovery on solid foundations.

With regard to being greedy and selfish, I was greedy to start with. I was heavily influenced by the wonderful luxuries in the shops and wanted them. I wanted to give expensive gifts. I wanted to wear the best clothes and I also wanted to make my parents proud.

I was seduced by all that I could not afford on a factory hands wages. Then I stepped into a betting shop and all those dreams of wealth were suddenly possible, all I needed was some clever bets with a little luck.

Some twenty or so years later, the greed had long since turned into desperation and frustration, self-loathing and apathy.

What I have found in recovery is this, to the addict/compulsive individual “I” is a lonely word and “we” is a comforting one.

My view is that the journey from greed and selfishness to desperation, frustration and then self-loathing and apathy, helped to create a person that could be described as sick with addiction and compulsion.

All this is my honest view as someone who can now look back with confidence.

I make no presumption for others and do not speak from any qualified perspectives. My views come through my own personal experience as a compulsive gambler and as a recovering one.

My recovery is due to the skills of the REHAB centre and the support of my family. Freedom from my obsession with gambling has brought me closer to my family in a way I never thought was possible and allowed me start on a journey where even, at 47 years old, I can still reach my potential.

As if that was not enough, after twenty years of doing the same thing over and over again I now truly understand what spontaneity means. All the worthy adventures of my life have come in the years since I last had a bet.

Where once only one thing dominated my life, I now enjoy all that life has to offer with only one exception.

If you identify with this and would like to seek help you can find information and help-lines on the internet, by entering sources of help for compulsive gamblers/other related addictions and compulsions you will be directed to supportive sites such as Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous.

You can also call me if you think I can help on 07799041865. If I am not available at the time, please text gambling problems and I will get back to you as possible.

All conversations will be strictly confidential.

> Stephen Gardiner is a recovering compulsive gambler with four years abstinence from gambling.

Stephen became addicted when he was about 21 years old and very quickly became perceived as a hopeless case.

He entered a rehab clinic aged 43 and exited a changed man. As a result of the help he received he now has a diploma in counselling and the experience and skills to help others recover.

He blogs for the Citizen as The Reformed Gambler.