Monday 4 October 2018 was the day my life started again….
So I guess my story has to start all those years ago as a 15-year-old boy working a Saturday job in my local chippy. Then out of the blue my boss decided to install what is known as a fruit machine. As I served customers and watched them play I thought to myself, what is this game their all enjoying it looks fun right?
Then I made that fateful choice, as I put my first pound in with the press of a few buttons and that third spin I’d won the jackpot. A sudden surge of adrenaline and a warm feeling rushed through my body which I can only describe as taking my first hit, from that moment I was hooked and I’d spend the next 17 years chasing that feeling.
For me gambling was never about chasing losses or to gain quick money, yes these factors became part of my addiction but for me I wanted to have that warm feeling I got from my first win.
Over the years my attentions quickly progressed to the bookies where I discovered the roulette which to me was a new fix, spending endless hours and days spin after spin completely fixated with no real sense of reality. When the bookies closed I’d drive to service stations on the fruit machines I would gamble until I physically had no money left. Wages gone, pay days loans spent, valuables pawned I didn’t care, money to me was like free tokens to keep my high going I never appreciated the true value of money.
But with every high comes a low, and believe you me as a gambling addict the lows are unimaginably bad. The realisation hits you like a train, its payday my wages are gone the five pay day loans just took out are also gone and all my credit cards are maxed. I’ve got nothing left how am I going to get through this month, what am I going to tell my partner. But to me this was life and it became the norm, debt, depression, isolation was pretty much how life was and after all my money had gone I’d convince myself I was fine I’m not gambling today but the cycle starts again feeling so alone and worthless. When your gambling it’s like life doesn’t really exist for you, everyone around you is living and happy with life but my life was quickly spirally out of control trying to convince myself I hadn’t got a problem and I can deal with this on my own.
But how wrong I was I had a massive problem a compulsive gambler addicted to the feeling from that first win. With gambling addiction comes massive depression and isolation, I spent a lot of years gambling on my own whether that be in bookies, casinos or online telling myself this is my world and my thing. I completely changed as a person, losing friends, destroying relationships and hurting family members but above all else losing Lloyd. I didn’t know who I was anymore, where my life was going a completely broken man to the point where rehab was the only option to save my life.
Now is where my story changes because from here on in recovery begun. It was Monday 4th October 2018 I was walking through the doors in Herefordshire having been accepted for the MMOC rehab programme through Gordon Moody. To say this changed my life is a bold statement to make but it really did. Rehab was a chance to strip everything back and discover your- self and get to the core reasons why I’d gamble. At first I wanted to run its all id ever known I wanted to get back into my world I didn’t want to confront my feelings and talk about not growing up with my dad in my life or that when I was 16 my nan dying and never really grieving for her. But rehab teaches you to confront these problems it’s a cliché but it really is good to talk. The techniques I learnt to help stop gambling made me feel stronger a new sense of determination, wow where has this come from. But this is all part of the wonderful work Gordon Moody do and I honestly cannot thank them enough for what they’ve done for me I feel extremely privileged to have been accepted onto the programme and my only hope is that more problem gamblers get the chance to change their lives for the better like I have.
As I sit and write this now I am celebrating 53 weeks gamble free with a future to look forward to and have just completed the Cumbrian Experience where I had the chance to represent GMA and self-advertise all the wonderful work they do. This has also made me realign my recovery, I was so focused on stopping gambling that I failed to realise ‘me’.
Gambling took away my self-confidence, self-belief and the constant feeling of worthlessness. So for me recovery now is all about self-improvement and learning to love myself again, but life is good now I never thought a day would come let alone a year without gambling but it has.
The world is a beautiful place now I can see it again and I can only look forward to the time ahead and not look back at the time I have lost. I am stronger now to be more aware of complacency and ultimately just take day by day.