Comment: How gambling cost one man his life

editorial image

I MET with a very impressive young lady a few days ago who, after reading my articles, wanted to share with me her experience of living with a compulsive gambler and the lasting effect it has had on her family.

Her life and her expectations for the future have been shattered by the impact of obsessive gambling.

This is by no means an uncommon story. Unfortunately it’s an all too familiar tale. This lady has given me permission to share her story with you, though no names will be shown to respect her confidentiality.

Here was a family living the dream!

They lived in a nice part of town with all the benefits, it was safe and comforting. Her father had a well paid job which meant they could enjoy a few luxuries – a big house, four cars in the drive and a secure future laid out before them.

Her father had always liked to enjoy a little gamble without it having any kind of negative financial impact on their lives. This was the case until he discovered investment gambling; soon there were thousands of pounds exchanging hands as he found this world intoxicating and slipped into compulsive gambling.

Now here was a man who had everything, the cars, the house, the beautiful family. He was an intelligent and progressive man, with a bright working future.

None of this saved him from his compulsion to gamble all this away and more.

He carried on working hard and keeping up the persona of the doting husband and father, but in truth he was now working to feed his gambling and pay back his debts.

Within only a few years of finding himself a compulsive online gambler he started to become a more isolated member of the family by his own choice. He would spend more and more of his time alone in his home office, gambling.

While the family believed he was working hard at home he was, in fact, gambling with their future.

Very quickly the knock on the door of a bailiff went from shock to expected as the cars went, followed by the house.

With the financial implications also came the emotional trauma,

This loving family started to tear at the seams and soon the marriage broke under the pressure of living with a compulsive gambler.

Tragically this ladies father died of a terminal illness before he could find recovery from addiction. His problems with gambling may have led to a dependency on alcohol which in turn may have contributed to his illness.

This very sick man now needed his three young daughters to care for him for up to four years before he succumbed to his illness. Two of these devoted young ladies then became homeless and were left with nothing because of the debts their father had amassed.

What I do know, as this young lady expressed it so well, is that her last few years have been extremely challenging for her.

Her future was a bright one until it was snatched from her through her fathers gambling, yet all she now wants is to place a stone on the grave of her father.

This was a man who had it all and lost it, an intelligent man whose talents at work were reaping the rewards of his success. This was a man, however, who had no defence against the power of his compulsion to gamble and it took away more than his own future, it also cost the family he left behind, their dreams and expectations.

If you can see your life following the same path, it is not too late to change.

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.