Compulsive Gamblers can’t be anonymous anymore. If people don’t know about our disease, there’s never a hope for treating it and maybe, someday, curing it.
These are the sentiments of recovering compulsive gambler and Las Vegas attorney Doug Crawford, who will forever be linked to the very public case which resulted in his 2009 suspension from the practice of law. In a January 2012 trial, Doug was the first defendant in a Clark County, NV criminal case to be sentenced in accordance with provisions of the Nevada Problem Gambling Diversionary Law The Diversionary sentencing mandates therapy and attendance at mutual aid support meetings as well as restitution for crimes committed in furtherance of the disease of gambling addiction.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Doug. He candidly shared his story …from early dependence on alcohol and drugs to a gambling addiction that lead him down a path he never imagined he would take – stealing from his clients’ trust account in furtherance of his addiction.
Doug Crawford’s Interview can be seen at youtube.com/user/lanieshope
Hopeless, Helpless, Worthless
Those are the words that describe how I feel after another night at the casino. Unless, of course, I win and then I’m on top of the world until I sink it all back into the slot machines. I am a 60 year old female who discovered slot machines 4 years ago. I never gambled before that point in my life. Today, after only 5 years of marriage, my spouse has had enough. He’s paid my payday loans for 4 years and the amount is staggering. I’ve transferred money into my account from his in order to play the slot machines. I lie about my whereabouts. I’ve pawned my wedding ring for gambling money. While visiting my mother, I pawned some of her jewelry for gambling money. I’ve lost every member of my family (8 siblings), 3 children, and my spouse due to gambling not to mention countless friends. I haven’t a penny to my name and my husband told me to leave. I have no money for gas and no where to go. I’m sure this is all sounding familar to anyone who is a compulsive gambler.
Hi my name is Mary and I am a compulsive gambler. I am 60 years old and have been married for 31 years to a wonderful man and I have 2 grown wonderful sons. My life was very happy before I started gambling. I had to quit working in 2008 because of some health issues, I had worked all my life and I loved working. After being off for a little while, I became bored and lonely because everyone I knew was still working.
In 2010 a casino came into our area and most people were very excited as was I. I later learned that I was what they call an escape gambler. So I started going to the casino to pass the time. The slot machines became my best friend or so it seemed. Well we weren’t rich so I had to find ways to fuel my addiction. After about 1 year, I knew I had a problem and tried to stop many times but my life just kept spiraling out of control.. I had payday loans, car title loans, credit cards maxxed out, and the worst thing that I am most ashamed of today is I opened credit cards in both my sons names. I know what kind of mother does that when they profess to love there kids so much? Well I did and in November 2013 my husband and kids found out about all the lies and dishonest things I had done. I sought out GA and counseling and my family stood by me. I haven’t gambled for 4 months and I faithfully go to 2 GA meetings a week and counseling 1 day a week.
My life is becoming a little normal again but believe me I was devastated at how I had hurt the very people I have loved so much. I considered suicide at the time but I am so glad I turned for help instead. My children and I are in some ways closer than before and we are rebuilding some trust. I think that is the hardest for anyone to understand; how you can do the things you did and tell the lies that you told to the people who mean the most to you. I still don’t understand how good people can do such horrible things when they are gambling. I am fortunate to have raised such loving kids because I could have gone to prison for fraud, or lost my family, or both!
I keep a list of everyone I hurt and the money spent in my computer just in case I ever get the notion that it wasn’t that bad or thinking “i’m cured” I never want to see the hurt and disapointment in there eyes again. I have forgiven myself enough so that I can focus on my recovery. This is a horrible addiction. I gave a speech at our county commissioners meeting the other day to try to let people know that there is help out there and if you put in the work that you can get better. I am enjoying my life again.
Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result” is often espoused by those recovering from a Gambling Addiction. For some of us, we’ve coined the phrase “forget-itis” as much the same thing and very similar to what Bill Murray experienced in his movie “Groundhog Day” (1993) doomed to repeat his day over and over with the same results. Having spent almost twelve years in a 12-step group for gambling addiction, if I had a nickel for every time I have heard someone share their experience of doing the same thing over and over again, well, I would be rich!!
I did search the Internet for a definition or explanation for the term ‘forgetitis’ and although I was unsuccessful in that quest, I did find in Wikipedia the following: Read more →
My first bet was made at age 12. Since I am now 57, I will skip early years of gambling and get to what occurred in my life that got me to the wonderful place in my life called recovery.
I always lived on the edge craving excitement. Whether it was living like an outlaw and seeing if I could get away with it or betting on a 40 to 1 long shot, I enjoyed, and later found out I needed, the rush. The reason I needed it was I had an uncontrollable and an incurable disease. It is called compulsive gambling.
Like most compulsive gamblers, I won… at first. But over the years when it got to the point that there was not enough to win, my life became completely unmanageable. Becoming a great liar and rationalizer I hid my problem from my wife. I would also try to hide from my higher power, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. I surely couldn’t hide from him! Read more →
As has been the case for many others I have spoken with, my own gambling story begins at a young age (10). Family vacations with my father would involve trips to the Ruidoso Downs race track, where I was given $20 for the day to bet on horses. Later, he would teach me how to play poker, and by the time I was a teenager I was playing occasionally, and later regularly, with a group of his colleagues. By the time I was in college, I became involved in a high-stakes pot-limit game, and won enough money over time to move out of the house and get my own apartment while I was in school. There were two men in that game that I (and others) won money from fairly consistently, and looking back I now realize that it was not just because (as I thought) they were “bad” player, but because they were compulsive (pathological) gamblers who would stay in the game until the last card on almost every hand.
When I finished my graduate degree in 1991, I received a job offer from the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas to supervise archaeological work out at the infamous Yucca Mountain Project. I was thrilled to get a job in archaeology, and was excited about the prospects of moving to Las Vegas. For many years after moving to Las Vegas I continued to play live poker. While I never considered myself a professional player, I did well enough to win a little money over the long run, and saw it as an entertaining pastime. I didn’t understand the appeal of the video poker machines…it seemed like a complete waste of time to play a machine, where you had no control over the outcome. Occasionally, I would put $20 into a machine, but never won anything substantial until I hit my first royal flush for $1,000 in the mid-1990s. It was a few years later that I hit a 2nd one, and then very soon after, a third. “Aha! This is why people play the machines!” I thought. Gradually, I played less and less live poker and more and more video poker until soon I was playing video poker almost exclusively. It didn’t seem to matter that intellectually I knew I was never going to beat a computer chip. Read more →
Lost in my Gambling Addiction
November 12, 2012
I awoke in the hospital and l remembering looking over and seeing my son. I thought I was dead, because I had not seen him in over three months yet we live less than five miles from each other. Earlier that week all my lies had finally caught up with me. I hated myself and no longer wanted to live. I have only one child and had no relationship with him due to my gambling addiction. If I didn’t have him, I though, I have nothing. My gambling addiction was so out of control that I would look in the mirror and not even recognize myself. I was on high blood pressure medications because my blood pressure was so high due to the stress. I was lying, cheating stealing, whatever I could do to get the money to go and gamble and it was all coming to an end. I could not take the pressure of my actions. I had been found out by friends. My shame was so great. I needed an escape and I thought dying was the best solution.
I came home from my counseling appointment that day and decided I couldn’t do this anymore. I had no control over my gambling addiction. I wrote letters to my son and a few friends apologizing for my actions over the past few years. I remember thinking my son deserved a better mother than me. I thought he had a great wife and two beautiful children and he would be all right without me. I had hurt so many people in my life, some that do not even know yet about my addiction. I remember thinking before I closed my eyes on that day, after taking 110 pills that I was scared and I didn’t want to die. I thought it was too late. I had taken all those pills and I was going to die. I didn’t even get to tell my son I loved him, only through a letter. Well as I closed my eyes I felt I was finally going to get some peace, something I had not had in my life in a long time.
Read more →
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 →
As the spouse of two compulsive gamblers, yes I did say two; I guess I was a slow learner, the short version of the story is that my first gambler never entered recovery and died while he was gambling. My current husband has more than 20 years of recovery.
I can share with a strong emphasis that my recovery is just as important as that of my recovering gambling spouse. The reason I know this today is because I actually Like and Love Myself!
Here is one bullet point I have learned in my recovery:
I was not the problem and I am also not the solution. Read more →
I learned to play cards at the age of 5 or 6. I came from a large Italian family and my Dad taught us to play cards. I loved it and none of the adults let us kids win. We had to know how to play or had to leave the table. From that point on I loved to take chances. In 1951, at age 14, our family moved from Ohio to CA. I was always betting on things: whether or not I would get a good grade in class, dollar bill numbers…whatever. It was all fun. Read more →
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 →