Real Stories of Recovery & Awareness
In order to get beyond the statistics and provide a more personal and individual picture of this issue, we have created this section to feature the stories of individuals who have been affected by problem gambling. People who have sought treatment for gambling addition have countless stories of heartbreak, financial devastation, support, reinvention, and recovery. As you read these stories, you will be reminded that problem gambling affects not only the gambler, but also their family members, friends, colleagues and employers; treatment providers; advocates; and many others.
Send us your story! Go to Contact Us and tell us about your successes and challenges. Photos are welcome!
The good news about gambling addiction is that treatment is effective, and recovery is real and attainable. Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance has gathered a few accounts. A few of them are listed below.
Voices of Recovery
When I was about 10, I remember sensing that something was wrong. I went upstairs and heard my dad screaming and crying into the phone. I heard him saying, “I paid you. I paid you. You’re not getting another penny out of me!” I remember his distress vividly, and it was devastating to me to see my dad in that way. Later, I learned he was talking to a loan shark because of financial problems brought about by gambling. (Read more to find out how Jim's family dealt with this struggle and what he suggests for other people who are experiencing gambling addiction.)
Once I became hooked, it became my life. Gambling became my main source of entertainment. It was the only thing that I cared about. I’d cheat, steal and otherwise do whatever it took to get money. (Read more to see what Ann learned about how to overcome gambling addiction.)
It was late in the evening on July 16, 2002, and outside the Mystic Lake Casino Eddie and several friends waited anxiously for the clock to strike midnight. Eddie had already watched many of his friends celebrate their eighteenth birthdays at the casino, and he was excited that his day had finally come. (Read more about what happened to Eddie and if he is still gambling today.)
Within six months after the big win, I realized I bit off more than I could chew. I had given back all the money, and more. I kept chasing that feeling of the huge win. [...] In 2004, I started a business that quickly had financial success. I had so much money that I thought I’d never run out. But eventually I couldn’t even come up with postage to ship a package. I started selling stolen goods to cover my losses and eventually ended up in prison on a mail fraud charge. (Read more about why Christine is candid about her addiction and how her life is today.)
The Meyer Family Shares Their Story to Raise Awareness About Gambling Addiction and its Consequences
Kim Meyer and her five children live in a small Long Island community, in the home where she and her high school sweetheart/husband Scott built a full and happy life together over the last 27 years. They co-funded a business, Scott coached the kids’ sports teams, and both were involved in their community, schools and church. Scott is now serving a 4½ – 13-year prison sentence for grand larceny and forgery, for using clients’ funds to chase more than $500,000 in gambling losses.
With New York state recently legalizing online gambling and preparing to build several new casinos in 2017, Kim has decided to go public with their private nightmare, to help raise awareness about gambling addiction and reduce the stigma that persists – lessons she and her family learned through painful personal experience.
Kim’s daughters created this video to raise awareness and let their dad know how much they love and support him.
Read more about the Meyer family’s story here.
More Voices of Problem Gambling
- After 2 semesters in college, I am wondering where all my money has gone. I would tell myself time and time again to stop betting, whether it be online poker, blackjack, or sports bets. A few days later I would always be back placing more bets and telling myself that if I lose this time I would be done forever. I’d win big a couple times, but only to increase my betting size and lose it all days later, and still bet more money. The highs were nice, but the lows were horrible. After losing everything in my checking account I began taking money out of my savings account thinking that I was one big win away from winning it all back. I knew I had a gambling problem, but as long as I wasn’t going into debt I tricked myself into thinking that it was okay. I ran myself into a 721 dollar debt on my credit card. There really was no further in debt I could go because the card had a limit of 1000. After being off great financially 9 months ago, I am now completely broke. It really is shameful to think that after I calculated it all up, I had lost about 7000 dollars in savings due to gambling. It still makes me sick just thinking about it. I finally told my parents that I had been losing a moderate amount of money in gambling, even though I could never tell them how much I actually lost. I told them I had lost 3000,and that even shocked them a lot. I haven’t gambled for a month, even though I have been tempted to do so many times with money from my job. I let my gambling go from betting around 50 dollars weekly on online-poker to betting 300 dollars 2-3 times a week on any sports game I could find. I hope I never gamble again.
- Hi I’m 12 years old and have three sisters. And well my dad is addicted to gambling. My mom and dad have been fighting ever since he started his problem which is about three years ago and now it scares me to think that they might get a divorce. Well finally after talking everything out my dad has agreed to find some help so I decided to help them find some help.
- Imagine that your own 11 year old daughter approaches you and says “Dad, I want to talk to you please”. You say, “Sure honey, what is it?” She then asks your other 8 year old daughter and your 4 year old son to leave her room so she can plead with you to stop gambling. Imagine that you see her tears and then you tell her that nothing causing her to cry would be worth doing again; yet you go and do it over and over again. Have you not, at that stage, lost your human side out to a formidable foe?!
- After three years of my gambling addiction, I lost the family that I was blessed to have. My beautiful wife and children have left me and I have not seen them in over two years. I now live in despair. The high education, good status and jobs that I once had seem to have vanished.
- For two years I lived in different shelters, sought food and clothing from hand-me-down sources, yet I continued to gamble every chance I had money, no matter how little it was!
- As a full-blown gambler, I resorted to extensive research on the subject of addiction and was able to tie my own addiction to troubled childhood. I found out that my behavior was consistent with my subconscious desire to punish myself and my loved ones. I have not been loving myself and sought to humiliate myself and bring harm to those who loved me, because I thought that I was never worthy of being loved.
- This was a first small step in the right direction. It is known as the cognitive approach, and means that I, as a gambler, must have it engraved in my brain, that gambling will never get me even or regain my losses to the casinos. It would only bring me more punishment and it would be sick for me to continue to punish myself and my loved ones. I don’t want to be sick and I am determined to overcome my sickness.
- As a gambler, I initially experienced a win and this became a favorable event that stuck in my mind and I didn’t remember the overwhelming majority of unfavorable events of losses. I tended to chase my losses, and promised myself that once I “get even”, or at least regain some of my losses back, I would forever stop gambling. I rationalized my gambling due to the pressure that I received from my creditors wanting to be paid back, but gambling always got me deeper and deeper into more dept. Sometimes I become suicidal and other times I ended up committing fraud and consistently lied to my family, friends and associates. Is gambling worth these kinds of outcomes?!
- There is no strategy, there is no scheme that can take any one of us to a point where we can say we can now stop gambling. The only time you win is the time you stay away from further gambling. Conversely, if you submit to your “bad self” or irrational impulses, you give your own stubbornness control over your life and seize to live the life you deserve. Please don’t condemn yourself to a life of despair and worthlessness. Find your “good self” and overcome your troubles by loving yourself and finding strength and honor from your patience and inner spirituality!
- I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to tell my husband that once again we have a major credit card bill on the way. I swore to him that it would never happen again. I believed my vow, especially when I saw how hard he had to work to pay off the last debt I ran up. How can I tell him I’ve done it again? I lied about where I was and would rather die than tell him the truth again. I won’t blame him if he leaves me. Losing money is one thing, losing my husband, well I can’t believe I took that chance. I hope this helps someone like me out there. Now I have to make that phone call to the help line. I can’t say good luck, but I can wish you well.
- Greetings, I’m a compulsive gambler. I’ve been in the Las Vegas Gambler’s Anonymous program since 1992. I’ve gone out there countless times to try to prove I can gamble like others. I am currently living my program, and am very happy.
- Good Morning. Here’s something for your real voices section. When I travel I make the mistake of thinking I can casually gamble in Indian casinos playing the slots. On occasion I’ve won really big, but the net is not very good. It’s pretty clear to me from your self test that I have a gambling problem. Thank you for your web site and for the information you have. I’m going to get help now.