So Far So Good

I am cautiously optimistic that I really have beaten the gambling addiction this time but it has only been 28 days so far.  According to the stages of change model you can’t be really sure you have altered your behaviour for good until you have maintained the change for at least six months.

The reason for my optimism is that, for the past two weeks, I have not even been tempted to gamble.  I have not been at all interested in gambling since I realised the truth.  My empty bank account is the truth.  It is concrete proof that it really doesn’t matter what happened during individual gambling sessions – I have never, ever, won a single cent from gambling!

At least once a day the sign on the back of my front door reminds me of this fact and each time I see it my determination to never lose another cent that way is reinforced.  Each time I read the sign – “Stop gambling! According to the bank you have NEVER won!” – I repeat my vow to never gamble again.

The impulse to gamble has, of course, come over me but I laugh at it now rather than think about it.  The idea to go gambling comes to me and, as soon as it does, the image of my bank statement showing less than twenty dollars when there should have been savings of five grand comes into my head too.  I snort my contempt for the idea of throwing one single more cent down the toilet of my gambling addiction and forget it as soon as it enters my head.

Losing every cent of my savings was NOT fun!

A couple of nights ago I ended up in the same situation I was in last time I went gambling and realised, afterwards, the idea of going gambling didn’t even enter my head this time.  I really think the gambling addiction nightmare is over at last.  I have the same attitude to gambling now that I used to have before I was infected with the gambling bug – you can’t win so don’t waste a cent trying!

All that remains is to try and accumulate some savings again.  I no longer have any credit cards so regular expenses and occasional expenses like car repairs or a new washing machine have to come out of my savings and I have none at the moment.

I am very fortunate, however, and I really feel for people who are not in as good a position as me!

My education and qualifications allow me to make reasonable money.  I earn enough to pay all my bills and usually have a little bit extra each pay that can accumulate as savings if I am careful not to waste it.  I was able to pay off all my debts by selling my house and getting compensation for the crime that was committed against me.  After paying all the debts I cut up and canceled my credit cards and have not taken out any loans or gone into any more debt at all since then.

The only thing that was ruining me was the gambling.  For me there are zero positives about gambling apart from the thrill of the occasional win but other people are not so lucky!

All I have to do to achieve a better life is stop gambling.  It is not as easy as that for the people who do not earn enough to cover their needs.  I had a taste of that life before I sold my house!

My income was just not enough to cover all my expenses.  I was paying 400 dollars a month in interest on my debts alone!  Add that to the actual debt repayments and the normal costs of living and I was going backwards so fast my head was spinning!

I would make a monthly payment on one credit card and then withdraw the money to pay another credit card payment.  The interest kept increasing until my cards were maxed out and costing me overdrawn account fees on top of everything else!

I was deep in a financial hole and suffering dreadfully.  The one, the only, hope I had of getting any relief at all was the hope of a big gambling win.  I would look at how little I had left, maybe 40 dollars on one credit card, and go into black despair.  How could I eat for a fortnight with only 40 dollars left to buy groceries?

Desperation would drive me to the gambling venue where I would withdraw that 40 dollars and put it in the slot machines.  Maybe, just maybe, this time I would win.  Nothing huge – just enough to feed me for the next fortnight would do.

There was no bigger picture for me during those black months.  I could not afford to look at the long-term picture when what really mattered was how I was going to make it through to next pay.

They say the biggest gambling profits come from the poorest suburbs.  This is why.  It is pure, unadulterated, desperation.

When all you have is 40 dollars people think you would have the sense to hold on to it but it doesn’t work that way.  When 40 dollars is not going to be enough to even feed you there seems to be no other option but to take the risk you will lose it in return for the chance to turn it into enough to live on for the next few days at least.

Once the financial hole is deep enough you stop gambling because you are addicted and start gambling because it is your only hope of getting out of the hole.  Gambling counsellors call this phenomenon “chasing your losses” but they don’t understand the real issue.  You are not chasing losses so much as chasing the one and only hope you have of being able to eat not just today and tomorrow but for the rest of the pay period!

The stark truth of the matter is I really doubt, if I had stayed in that hole, whether I would have ever been able to let go of that one tiny ray of hope for a better life!

Anyone who is able to let go of that false hope when it is the only hope they have is made of much tougher stuff than me!  They have my most sincere respect and admiration!  They will create a better life for themselves in time but it will be harder than anyone who has not been to the hell they are in could ever imagine!

It’s easy for politicians and people who have never been to that hell to say gambling is a choice and nobody is responsible for that choice but the gambler.  If their only hope of being able to put food on the table was to take the gambling venues up of their offer to turn 40 dollars into 400 or 4,000 I just bet they would quickly see those venues should not be allowed to prey on the desperate that way.

Premier Steve Bracks is going to find, come judgment day, that there is a lot of blood on his hands.  He invited the leeches into Victoria and they are feeding, and growing very fat, on human despair.

People say it was only sensible to allow these leeches into this state because of all the money we were losing when people went to other states to gamble.

Those people gambled for fun!  They had the money to make an excursion of it and take a trip interstate to go gambling.  They are not the people losing millions of dollars because they are hoping to win enough to make it through to next pay!

The money from those people would have stayed in the state as soon as one casino was built.

Casino’s are playgrounds.  People generally dress up and make an outing of a trip to the state’s casino.  Most poor people would not have the money to travel to a state casino to try and win enough to live on for a week or two.  Most people would view going to a casino as much more of a big deal than popping in to their local club or pub.  Some determined gamblers would, of course, continue to lose money but others, like me, would find it much easier to give up if the machines were not on every corner!

If all the pokies in this state were in our state casino I would never, in fact, have ever developed a gambling problem in the first place!

I hate crowds and dressing up!  I couldn’t have thrown on my tracksuit and walked a block to the casino at 3 in the morning when I couldn’t sleep and I would not have dressed up and got in the car to go to the casino even though it is a ten minute drive away!  The state casino is, in fact, closer to me than some of the local venues I have gambled in but I would never go there!  It is not a comfortable place to be for me.

If the premier’s aim was really to keep gambling money in our state he could have done that with one single casino.  People would have planned their gambling trips to go there.  Fun gamblers would have been catered to.

Slot machines in clubs and pubs are there purely to snare those who do NOT gamble for fun!  They are no more than money-making traps designed to capture those who can’t AFFORD to gamble for fun!  Fun gamblers lose money there too but those people would not protest if they had to go to a casino for their fun.  The only ones who would protest are the leeches.

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