Wait, Don’t You Have a Gambling Problem?

Mar 12, 2012 by

Oh, going to the horse track sounds fun! Sitting outside, getting to meet the horses and jockeys would be cool. I’ve never been, can we go?

Playing bingo would be a kick. There’s a hall a few miles away and the players would be really fun to watch. Let’s get a group together and go play!

Wow, the lotto jackpot is really up there! I’m going to go buy a few tickets.

Wait. Don’t you have a gambling problem?

My confused and protective friends get nervous that I’m “falling off the wagon.” They worry that something is wrong and that I’m giving up on my “sobriety.”

These days I am immediately touched and grateful that I am around people who care about me. Defensiveness used to be my first reaction. I would let them know they were out of line and I would squirm out of the conversation by being mean and firing away at them. That didn’t serve me very well though.

Now I take time to see it as an opportunity to educate another person about my passion. I explain that compulsive gambling was an important part of my past and that it doesn’t control me anymore. Besides, my drug was video poker or video slots. Raffles, lottery scratchers, sports betting and the like were never my problem.

The reactions are varied, but many times it feels like I get blown off. They seem to think that once an addict, always an addict. The folks in GA would always caution about gambling of any kind. Even office pools were considered gambling and a danger to your “clean time.” Other people were allowed to tell me if I was sober or not. Or if my behavior was acceptable or not.

Do you experience that too?

It seems like people want to keep me categorized as an addict. It’s like I fit into a tidy box when they consider it. That shows me their reluctance to let people change. I believe that there is more danger in the drama of things. It gives the problem too much power…if a problem even exists.

The drama of addiction adds so much work to the troubles we already have!

So here’s the deal:

I get to be the judge of my progress. Nobody else gets to tell me whether or not I’m doing better. I know in my heart and clear mind where I am with my gambling. I am at a point where I realize what is happening when I do play. The cravings are 95% gone. I understand my limits. I remember where I have been. I know I’m not going back to that place and that it’s time for forward growth.

I choose to feel secure knowing that they just don’t understand…yet. It opens up some great conversations and helps me understand myself at an even deeper level.

I am grateful for the questions. My friends have my best interests in mind. They come from a place of love and curiosity. Any defense I have comes from a place of guilt and shame. I am working on remembering that everyone has their issues. Mine just happened to be gambling. We are equals in life and it’s my job now to help them understand.

Ask away. I’ve got this.

P.S. I’d love to hear your experiences if you’d like to share!


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