Hello! My name is Dovid* and I am a Gambling Addict. I am 37 years old, with bli ayin hara, three wonderful children, and a special wife who is the source of my strength and recovery.
I began gambling in 2008. Some business associates and I lost a substantial amount of money in the stock market crash and went to Atlantic City to “chill.”
I had gone a few times before – sometimes I won and sometimes I lost, but never more than $200-$500 per visit.
However, this time my life changed forever!
I won over $25,000.00 in one night! Everything I touched that night turned to gold. I felt re-invigorated, and I was on a tremendous high – more importantly, I no longer felt like a failure.
When I got back home, all I could think about was how to win more money.
I knew I was good at this. Oddly enough, I even felt a misplaced sense of responsibility for my family to replenish our savings that we had lost due to the crash!
I knew I couldn’t just spend all of my time in Atlantic City. After all, I had a business and a family to attend to.
Ultimately, I was introduced to a local “frum” poker house. The people were friendly, always told good jokes, and there was loads of food from top restaurants.
I felt important.
The reason I am telling you this is so if there is someone reading this who is where I was, I want him – or her – to know that these guys at the poker houses don’t really care about you or your welfare. All they care about is that you spend all of your hard earned money while there. They will stroke your ego, they will make you feel important, they will sometimes even provide entertainment of the likes that I dare not detail or that can be printed in your column and they will rush to help you in any way possible – all while sucking the life out of you.
After about 8 months of attending these poker houses, losing all of my money, and almost losing both my family and our house, my wife organized an intervention and off to rehab I went.
Boy did I learn a lot about myself there! I learned how to deal with my feelings of being a failure. I learned how to be grateful for my blessings and that even losing can be a blessing in disguise. I learned more about myself and my relationship with Hashem in those 30 days than I had during my entire life. Of course, we have not told anyone outside of our immediate family about my disease.
I attend weekly meetings, as does my wife. We work the program together.
This year one of our close family friends is turning 40 over Chanukah. His wife invited 10 couples to Atlantic City two weeks after Chanukah for a surprise birthday vacation. My wife understands that I really should be staying away from there. Yet, I feel that perhaps we could still go and have a good time without gambling.
I realize that my wife has sacrificed so much for me already, and I would feel terrible if I ruined this “all-expense paid vacation” for her.
You seem to have your pulse on this topic. So, my wife and I have agreed to seek and follow your advice. Should we go, or not?
I am deeply humbled that you are trusting me to make such a monumental decision for you. However, I truly believe that only you know and understand the strength of your disease. As with any addiction, gambling can take over every aspect of the addict’s life. They will lie, cheat and steal for the sake of getting their fix. Gambling addiction has ruined both relationships and careers. It can put someone in severe financial distress and end marriages. Recovery is possible though, and any honest recovering addict knows first hand that the temptation to relapse will be with him or her for a lifetime.
Recovery for gambling addiction follows the same rules as any addiction recovery – stay away from “triggers” (people or places) that may spark a relapse. Anything that pertains to the vice needs to be avoided at all costs.