Jason’s Story

jason_img

Once every couple of months, my girlfriend and I would go to the casino and play blackjack. We brought $200 each, and when that was gone — whether it was two minutes or two hours later — we’d leave.

Then I started going alone. On weekends, I would wake up early so I’d have more time to gamble. I put off chores and errands, choosing to go to the casino instead. I avoided my family and friends. At the table, I bet more and more to try to win back what I had lost. Gambling was no longer a pastime: In my mind, it was a business venture.

Gambling became my world. I would go to the casino directly from work with anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 in my pocket and stay there until the next morning. Struggling to stay awake, I’d put in my eight hours at work, only to do it all over again. I’d sleep during lunch hour or whenever I could find time to pull over on the side of the highway. It was dangerous and, in retrospect, I’m so grateful that I never caused an accident.

As ironic as it may sound, gambling originally gave me a sense of control. The idea that my fate (winning or losing) was based solely on the decisions I made at the table appealed to me. Eventually it became my release, my escape. When I was stressed out from work or from friction in relationships, I turned to gambling as a way to clear my mind.

One Saturday morning I came home after a night of gambling and I couldn’t sleep. I lay awake in bed and began to think about where I was in life. I thought about all the relationships I had strained or lost and the people I couldn’t face. I thought about everything that I had once been proud of, everything that made me who I was: a good brother, a good son, a good friend; someone who was dependable, responsible and who others could turn to.

I realized that I had lost everything. I had lost things that money couldn’t replace, things that defined me. I had lost my sense of self. It was the saddest day of my life and one that I will always remember. A few hours later I called my sister and could only manage to say, “I need to stop.”

Admitting, and then facing, my gambling problem was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. I won’t lie to you—it will not be easy, but there is hope. If you’re in the position I was in, chances are, you feel loneliness so heavy and dark that you fear you’ll never come out of it. The truth is, you are not alone. The first step is yours and yours alone to take, but after that, you’ll be surprised at how many people will help you. No matter how deep you’re in, no matter how much of your life gambling has eaten away at, none of these things are irreversible.

If you are concerned about your gambling, or the gambling of someone you care about, there is free and confidential help.

Back to Stories