Comment: The secret life of a compulsive gambler

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ONE of the hardest aspects of my behaviour to change, was my secretive nature.

The lengths I would go to and the drama it created were almost as challenging to overcome as the compulsion itself.

To hide the extent of my losses became a daily chore, which meant ever more elaborate avoidance techniques.

Towards the end of my gambling I became so obsessed and so paranoid that someone would see the true extent of my problem, that I started picking betting shops further away home. I would change the shop I used every time I was discovered, it’s as if I saw the shop as a hideaway from a world, that would try to impose on me a sense of responsibility I was to immature to live up to.

My lack of confidence in myself had created a fear of the things most people take for granted, things like marriage, starting a family or even taking driving lessons were too terrifying to contemplate.

I had fooled myself into believing that the only place of escape was through a betting slip or the spin of a roulette wheel.

My world was now full of fear. The fear of being found out, the fear of my gambling being taken away and greatest of all was the fear that the world would see me as I saw myself, a weak and spineless loser with no moral compass!

The fact is none of this was natural; it was an accumulative effect of gradual moral decline through my addiction to gambling, the gambling that I protected was of course destroying me so slowly that I never noticed. It was an insidious foe which I had no answer too, that is of course until I found help in the shape of a recovery centre.

My rock bottom came when I became homeless and was given a helping hand by my family.

If anyone reading this can identify with my story and would like help to stop. 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.