There was a Christmas fair every year at my elementary school. The first time I went I was six years old. They had games of chance in one of the rooms and there was bright ball that bounced on board with squares of five colors. There were odds that were determined by the amount of squares that were represented by each color. I took a quarter and picked a color, I would of been better off shooting myself with a gun, because then at least I would of had some chance of surviving. I stayed at the fair all day running from room to room begging relatives for quarters. Already I understood it wasn’t the fact that losing meant money was lost that mattered, but that you were out of the action, if the quarters were gone. The crazy thing is from that day forward quarters, dollars, credit cards, or anything else of value only had one purpose; they were a tool to gain that high I got for the first time that day of my first Christmas Fair. I came home that night and could not sleep and I lied in bed with so much energy and a warm feeling like a heat flash: one would of though my parents gave me speed. Every year other kids at school, thought of Santa Claus when December came around, but to me I knew that the ball and that feeling that felt so good was here again.
I was watching a basketball game not long after I was introduced to that magical and glorious ball. I was in my Grandfathers room and we were watching the Knicks and that Hawks. Two brothers were playing against one another and my grandpa was not happy during the game. At the end I thought his team won and was surprised he still was not happy; then the statement that would define the rest of my life came from his mouth“it’s not who wins or loses that matters, but by how much they win or lose by that matters”. I didn’t understand quite what he meant, but I can assure all, no different than a smashing Serve from Sampras to end Wimbelon, my life and my childhood and any chance at normalcy was dashed that night. Somewhere deep inside I knew that there was a way to combined the two most amazing things in the world that ball from the fair and sports, and that was game, set, and match. My life was for all purposes over and no one knew, I had not even come close to hitting puberty and my path was already determined.
I could give a million stories about the roads I travled in the 33 years that came after that magical ball landed on a color for the first time, but we all have our War stories, and while they are all different, they are still the same. I have worked counciling those who have been confined, due to lost of therir senses and I have been on the other side with that white jacket one too many times. I have taught kids in schools as a teacher, and I had to go to six different high schools as a student myself due to that ball. I have gone to collect money from others in ways I am not proud of and I have been chased from my home, city, and state more times than I can recall. Most of the time I dont even know when I am telling the truth or not, but then I recall a professor I once had that used to say” The truth is overrated”. Seven months ago two little girls came Into my life, they are the most beautiful creatures that have ever arrived on this planet of ours. They are mine and I am a father. I don’t want to leave this world without my story without my battle meaning something positive for them and for others who have suffered, because of a disease that kills you a little at a time,; until you are not sure who you are, who you were, but only sure that you don’t want to know who you will be tomorrow. There is hope though for me, for you, and for all of us, if we stick together, if we fight as one, for in the end all that read this I consider my people my brothers and sisters and I love you all, for those who have this disease know me better than those who love me ever could. Thank you to anyone that reads this.
Here I sit with lifeless eyes,
Playing my machine…it’s do or die.
With the spin of the wheel I place my trust,
I’m gonna’ win…I must.
I think to myself I’ve gotta’ be nuts
My money is gone and I’ve gone bust.
Tomorrow’s a new day and I need more cash
“Money Tree” is up the street; so there I dash.
What the hell, I can’t lose this time.
I feel so lucky. I feel just fine. Read more →
Today I was contacted by a concerned friend who’s loved one had recently returned from active duty service with a potential gambling problem. More information is surfacing regarding Military Service Personnel suffering a greater incidence of disordered gambling than the general population.
For a compulsive gambler, there is no “choice.” What may start out as recreation, crosses over into an emotional escape mechanism, to a mental health disorder recognized as such by the American Psychiatric Society since 1980. Those suffering with Disordered Gambling are known to have the highest suicide rate of any other segment of society. Media reports continue to note the increased incidence of suicide among our returning Veterans.
Greater numbers of returning Vets, increased incidence of compulsive gambling coupled with PTSD and heightened suicide in our Military are cause for concern, vigilance on the part of family members and loved ones and self-awareness among our returning Veterans. Help IS available and Problem Gambling IS treatable. If you are suffering from a gambling addiction, please reach out to friends, self-help groups, professional counselors and support groups. Pick up the phone and dial 1-800-522-4700.
Problem gambling and pathological gambling are a public health issues impacting individuals, families and communities. Long recognized as a mental health disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-1980), social and medical services such as mental health counseling, insurance coverage of treatment, and societal recognition of the diseased nature of Disordered Gambling* (*DSM-5) have lagged behind the medical diagnosis. This public health forum, From Awareness to Advocacy, focuses on the next step in social change in problem gambling: Assuring “access to affordable and appropriate treatment and support services for anyone impacted by compulsive gambling.”
Lanie’s Hope representative Bea Aikens will serve as the keynote speaker at the Reno, Nevada, “Nevada Day” presentation on Problem Gambling in our community.
Deborah F 2-19-12
I was raised by a child-molester. He was my stepfather from age 1 year. I let it define my life until I walked into Gambler’s Anonymous in 2005.I believed that I had a right to my addictions. After all, my childhood was less than desirable and I had come through it without going to jail, abusing my children or becoming a societal deviant, or so I thought.
Read more →
I always knew that I was a gambler, willing to take risks and bet money I didn’t have from a very young age. I can recall stealing money from my mother’s coin purse to feed my addiction of flipping cards and coins, playing marbles, and paying off lost bets at about 6 years old. My first gambling venture was attending a weekly bingo at the local Officers Club with my mother at the age of 12 and winning a television set…..that pretty much hooked me early on for playing bingo. My bingo playing got out of hand in Arizona in the early 80’s and I was obsessed with playing 7 days a week to feed my addiction; including driving roundtrip up and down an unlit, dirt mountainous road in order to make bingo in Phoenix each weeknight. Read more →