Hello Recovery Friends, and Welcome All,
We all know how hard it can be to live life in recovery from gambling addiction, or from any addiction quite frankly. But, many of also live with other daily challenges in recovery as well.
Sitting in the rooms of GA, it seems to be more common now that many of us also have "Dual Diagnosis" . . . Meaning, we maybe recovering from 2 or more addictions, or like myself, I live in recovery and battle Mental/Emotional health disorders as well. And this can be pretty challenging on some days. So I thought I would share a 'freelance recovery article' I was invited to write for a rehab website about this topic. It also seems to becoming the norm that many addicts are also now becoming addicted to gambling as they try to use gambling as a "quick source of fast money" to indulge in
what ever their TRUE addiction is. Maybe they gambling to make a fast buck to score more drugs, or buy the alcohol they so desperately want to feed their addiction?
But now these same people end up with a dual addictions because they get hooked on gambling. But most importantly, my experience is with addiction and living with mental illness. And one of my disorders is a direct effect of my past compulsive gambling. So here is more on this topic and article share. . . . .
So how does one recover from gambling addiction while living with mental illness? It can be difficult and a bumpy ride, but it can be done. I did it, and am doing it, and you can too! A personal share of what life was like. . .
“All I remember is waking up in the hospital. I heard people talking about me saying, when the police came to my home, there were knives all around me on the couch and floor of my living-room. Then I blacked out again.” “I woke up next in a mental/addiction crisis center with my wrists wrapped, feeling very sick to my stomach, and remained there for the next 14 days” . . .
This is where my recovery and behavioral health journey began. To be able to recover from gambling addiction, and while there, I was diagnosed with bipolar ll with severe depression, mild mania with anxiety, PTSD, and many negative behavioral habits I had picked up in my many years of addicted gambling.
See, I was suffering undiagnosed mental illness for years without ever knowing it. And I turned to addicted gambling and alcohol abuse to zone out & cope by wanting to not feel the hurt and pains I had not processed. That day, I was supposed to be attending my best friend’s funeral and celebration of life! Well, instead, I had a very bad gambling binge/slip that almost cost me my life. Many ask me, “How can you just waste your money like that? I tell them, “it’s not about the money, it’s about the disease of gambling addiction, and the bad choices and behaviors that comes with it”. . . “that it is not about the money wasted, gambling addiction almost cost me my life by way of 2 failed suicides.”
So what is Gambling Addiction?
There are many definitions for problem and gambling addiction. Some claim it’s a mental health disorder, some say it’s a cognitive behavioral issue, and even some say it’s an impulse control problem. From personal experience, it was all three and more. But all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits is a gambling addiction. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.
And I experienced all of the above. I was sick.