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Lanie's Hope

Compulsive Gambler: Life Before & After Recovery

shutterstock_124103662I am a Compulsive Gambler. I didn’t know this. I knew I had a gambling problem. I had a gambling problem for over 20 years. I couldn’t gamble like normal people. I couldn’t sleep when I was in or near a casino. I had to gamble all night, staying up if they closed in the wee hours of the morning or stay up all night if they were open 24 hours. I could stay up for days gambling. I never could go to the casino with a couple hundred dollars. I always had access to more money. Almost every time I gambled I would end up with nothing. If I won, it was never enough, I wanted to win more. If I lost, I couldn’t go home a loser. So I would leave the casino, go to a nearby bank and withdraw money. Larger and larger increments of money. I would use credit cards to get cash advances. I would borrow from friends if they won. I would transfer money into my account from my husbands account (money that was used for house ). I sold my jewelry. I emptied out accounts that I had saved for my daughters weddings. I gambled all of the inheritance from my mom. I took all of my life insurance savings. I borrowed everything I could from my 401k, and I even have stolen money from a family business. This is where this addiction took me. To do things that are unbearable to think that I could do. But I did it. I did it to Gamble. To stay in Action.
I hated myself, I could not look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t sleep at night. I would lay in bed thinking about how I would cover money I just lost. Or how I could get more money to gamble again. I was thinking of other ways to be deceptive. To continue my life lying, stealing, cheating, abusing myself in my mind, body and soul. I gambled weekly at the casinos. I lied to my employer saying I was sick and I was gambling. I lied where I was to my family, I would tell them I was at a friends, but I was in a casino. Then I couldn’t leave the casino because I lost so much money. I couldn’t go home. I stayed at the casino for three nights, sleeping in my vehicle, wearing the same clothes for four days. Maxing all of my credit cards and emptying every account I had. I didn’t answer the phone when my husband or daughters called me. Finally I answered a texted that I was in a casino, they begged me to just come home.
Every time I drove home after having lost so much money, I would yell horrible things to myself, calling myself horrible names. Saying “I won’t do that again”. Only to get paid the next day and go right back and lose my entire two weeks paycheck in just a couple hours.
I contemplated suicide.
Then a miracle happened: My family did an intervention. Telling me they would have nothing to do with me if I continued to gamble. Telling me I needed help. I continued to gamble with out my daughters knowing. But my husband found out and one day when I came home he gave me a forms on “Excluding” myself from casino’s in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The next day I called out of work and drove to the Casino Control Commission in Atlantic City. I put myself on the “Exclusion List” for all casino’s in New Jersey including on-line gambling. I left Atlantic City and drove to a Casino in Pennsylvania and I put myself on their “Self – Exclusion” list too.
What a relief I felt. It was like I took a 500lb weight off of my shoulders. I cried, I laughed and I cried some more. I was scared but I knew deep down this is what I needed to do.
The next day I went to my first Gamblers Anonymous (GA) Meeting and began my New Life Journey. First I had to admit and surrender to the fact that I am a compulsive gambler and my life is unmanageable when I gamble. At every meeting I went to I cried nearly the whole time I was there. I actually had to face what I had been doing and what I had done. But this has been an amazing journey. The miracle of GA has given me my life back. I am finally proud of who I am again. I am back to being a wonderful, kind, loving, and responsive mother and wife and person.
This has not been easy, but I have began to love myself again. The GA program has been giving the tools to continue on my path of Recovery and I will continue on the right path “One Day at A Time”. My last bet: 1-14-14.

7 Comments

  1. daxAugust 12, 2015 at 3:42 pmReply

    Story sounds exactly like mine, except my problem has only been 3 years. Never had a problems till I got bitten by poker. Not online. I had my financial life so extremly stable and now I am a wreck plus a ticking time bomb. Reviewing my accts online is always a wakeup call when you see 10 to 20 withdrawals within a week. Thousands gone, then transfer money from cc cards to replace lost bank account money. I have 40k in cc cards plus other stuff. This is madness. I figure I got a 5 year recovery plan. Going from having life together to a wreck. Only i know this. Glad to her you have it together and I pray you never relapse.

  2. BJHJanuary 13, 2016 at 12:12 pmReply

    I am 42 and relapsed 6 months ago and am very worried I am going to lose my family. I have financial problems and the depression and fear are so overwhelming I cannot eat. I am scared and feel worse than when I came in the 1st time. I only lost 10K but the lies and deception are going to sink my marriage and I dont know if I will ever recover from that loss. I am scared, God please help me. I am going back to meetings and have a sponsor and support, I just want my family back

    • NLMMarch 3, 2016 at 6:55 amReply

      I’ve had a problem for 10 years, but the last 4 have been severe. I feel the same anxiety and remorse about the lies and the pain I’ve caused my husband. He has been supportive, but at the same time I worry every minute of every day that he will leave me. This is my third “last chance”. I’m now in Gamblers Anonymous and have given my husband control of my money. I can only hope that he doesn’t change his mind and give up on me.

  3. CJMarch 3, 2016 at 8:35 pmReply

    All these stories sound alike,because this is where gambling
    addiction leads us.I to have been gambling for 10 yrs.I have lost my house,car,jewelry and thousands of dollars.But the lies and cheating and many wasted hours,that I will never get back,I would work 3 jobs and still have no money.I now attend GA meetings and on the road to recovery.One day at a time,no gambling.

  4. CPMay 21, 2016 at 11:50 amReply

    I have just lost my job because I have been caught stealing, my family had no idea the extent of my gambling,11 months ago my marriage fell apart, my ex was very abusive mentally and gambling was my escape ( no excuse) it spiralled so out of control I am now a wreak with huge debts and I am just waiting on the police to arrest and charge me. I have lost all respect from my son ( who can blame him) and feel people would be better with me gone, I am soooo ashamed of myself even though my mother, father, brother and sister have rallied around me and are trying to sort my debts. I hate the person I am, all I do is cry with shame and feel I do not deserve anything from anyone. The only thing holding me back from ending it all is my other son who is severely disabled and needs me more than anything. Please help me see that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel for I can see no way out.

  5. Cha80November 5, 2016 at 2:56 pmReply

    I am 36 years old and have been gambling for the past eleven years, 6 years ago I excluded myself from all South Africa casino, and I went for counciling with GA I lapsed after a year, I do not go to the normal big casinos, I go to the small ones Bingo and play slots at a nearby bar, my situation is worse now, worse no one knows, I’m losing so much money and I’m isolating myself from my family and friends because of gambling, I really want to stop now and I know what to do. But it so hard, please put me on your prayer as I am on a journey to save my life before it too late,

  6. John JacksonMarch 18, 2017 at 12:34 pmReply

    I’m 36 I’ve been gambling for 8yrs now, I had it all before I started this horrible journey, now I’m losing everything. PRAY FOR ME SO I CAN SEE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS JOURNEY!!!

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A Compelling and Passionate Speaker
Bea Aikens couples her personal experience with extensive knowledge of the disease of compulsive gambling to build a compelling platform for civic, community and national organizations seeking knowledge and understanding of the disease of disordered gambling. To engage Bea for your upcoming event, contact her at
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