The Impact of Gambling Addiction on Family Life

Listen to the All in the Addicted Gamblers podcast to hear Mitch’s honest conversation with Brian about his gambling addiction journey, the impact on his family, and the importance of recovery support. Learn about the challenges of living in a world with prevalent gambling and how to stay mindful of triggers. Click here to listen, or read the summary below.

Super Summary:

On the All in the Addicted Gamblers podcast, Brian converses with Mitch regarding his battle with gambling addiction, its effects on his family, and the crucial role of support during the recovery process. They explore the challenges of navigating a world where gambling is widespread and talk about their acquired ability to identify gambling triggers that could result in compulsive actions. Mitch recounts his journey to seek help and his path towards recovery. He underlines the significance of maintaining connections and applying the principles of recovery to all aspects of one’s life.

Top 5 Takeaways

  • Gambling addiction can have severe impacts on family life and relationships.
  • Recognizing gambling triggers and staying mindful is crucial for maintaining recovery.
  • Support from loved ones and attending meetings can play a significant role in overcoming addiction.
  • Coping in a world full of gambling requires adapting and changing one’s mindset.
  • Sharing personal experiences and offering support can help others recover from gambling.

After stumbling upon the podcast when he heard Brian on a local radio show in New York City, Mitch chose to open up about his journey and insights on gambling awareness. Welcome to the All in the Addicted Gamblers podcast, as Brian talks with Mitch from New Jersey about his experiences with gambling addiction and the path to recovery.

The Beginning of Mitch’s Gambling Addiction

Gambling had been a part of Mitch’s life from a young age. He used to watch his family members enjoy card games and place bets. He started betting himself when he was only 10 or 11, flipping baseball cards and coins with friends. Mitch admitted that even at that young age, he could feel the excitement and rush that gambling brought him.

As he grew older, Mitch continued to gamble. He played the lottery, started visiting casinos, and placed bets on sports games. He remembered his first big win, which made him believe he could become a professional gambler who would never have to work a day. Unfortunately, this winning mentality often leads people to chase losses and spiral into addiction.

Impact of Gambling Addiction on Family Life

Mitch shared a couple of gambling stories that highlighted the impact of his gambling addiction on his family. When he was eight years old, he recalled an incident when his father left him alone in a truck while his father went into an off-track betting office. Later in life, when Mitch’s son was just two or three years old, Mitch prioritized hiding his gambling papers over his child’s safety. These incidents remind him of the importance of staying vigilant in his recovery.

Despite the challenges, Mitch has come a long way and remains committed to taking things one day at a time. By sharing his gambling story, Mitch hopes to raise awareness of gambling addiction and help others struggling.

Mitch talked about his gambling addiction and how it took over his life at different stages. The whole thing started when he hit a blackjack jackpot on his first night out. He couldn’t shake the feeling of making more money in three minutes than two weeks of work.

He got married in ’94, and even on his honeymoon, gambling consumed him. He made his best friend bet for him while he was away, and like the gambling addict Mitch was, he didn’t even care about the odds. Deep down, he knew he had a problem, but he kept pushing that thought away.

In ’98, his wife got pregnant, and they experienced a devastating miscarriage. Instead of being there for his wife at the hospital, he was more concerned about whether The Lakers were covering their game. At that moment, he realized how sick his gambling addiction had made him.

Thankfully, he found a fellowship when his son was five years old. So Mitch didn’t miss out on too many important moments in his child’s life. But his addiction still had a hold on him. Consequently, Mitch prioritized watching sports and checking scores over spending time with his family.

His wife didn’t know the extent of his gambling problem, only that he was part of football pools. She had no idea he was betting with a bookie. Mitch even started working for the bookie to offset his gambling losses, which was technically illegal. If you’re living with someone who gambles, please check out this guide. The guide will make it easier for you to protect yourself and to help the person.

Mitch couldn’t stop gambling despite having many “last bets” and trying to quit multiple times. He tried gambling in smaller amounts, but he always chased bigger bets. When he confessed to his mum about his gambling problem, her first reaction was to ask how much money he needed.

Seeking Help and the Road to Recovery

Mitch continued talking about his gambling addiction and how it affected his life. He opened up about his struggles, admitting that his mum was the first person he ever told about his problem. Mitch shared how he tried multiple times to seek help but couldn’t commit to a support meeting or gambling therapy. He talked about how he borrowed money from his mum to pay off his gambling debts and how she never really understood how serious his problem was. Years later, Mitch found a note he had written to his mum, thanking her for her support, and realized she had kept it all those years.

Brian shared his experiences, mentioning how he started gambling around the same time Mitch struggled. They discussed the loneliness of their addiction, and how they preferred to gamble alone to avoid judgment or confrontation. They both had moments when they felt desperate to stop but couldn’t bring themselves to do it.

Mitch recalled an emotional moment on Thanksgiving Day in 2000 when he cried in the bathroom, wondering why he couldn’t stop gambling. He prayed to God and his late mum, promising to quit if he won his remaining bets. Miraculously, he won them all, but the very next day, he was back to gambling. It shows how strong the addiction was and how difficult it was for him to break free. For a gambling addict, gambling isn’t about money. It’s about an escape from something.

Despite significant life events, Mitch continued to gamble. It wasn’t until March 31st, 2021, that he finally opened up to his wife about his addiction.

Overcoming Addiction and the Importance of Support

Mitch eventually revealed his problem to her and sought help through support groups and therapy. Interestingly, Mitch and his gambling therapist both believe that a person’s spouse is more likely to leave them due to gambling than an affair (We haven’t found any data showing that). Mitch also shared how he managed to keep his addiction hidden by borrowing money from people instead of dipping into their savings.

His wife did not want to get involved with his support group but understood the importance of the meetings in Mitch’s life. She saw he was a better husband and father when he regularly attended meetings. Their children knew about Mitch’s addiction but did not discuss it in detail.

One topic that came up was the idea of harm reduction in gambling. While Mitch initially thought attending meetings would teach him how to gamble responsibly, he later realized that complete abstinence was the key to overcoming his addiction.

Mitch and Brian discussed the importance of avoiding focusing on the amount of money lost in gambling since that can trigger more gambling. Instead, they emphasized the significance of understanding the behavior behind the addiction and the need for support and encouragement from others who have experienced similar struggles.

Brian mentioned that he used to love gambling, but he couldn’t stop even when he won big. He realized it wasn’t about the money but the action and excitement that kept him going.

Both discussed the grey area of what’s considered gambling and what isn’t. For example, playing games with their kids or participating in 50/50 raffles could trigger their addiction. Mitch pointed out that they should focus on what causes them harm and what gets them going and avoid situations that could lead to compulsive behavior.

Brian shared his experience with video games and how they can also trigger his gambling addiction, especially when they involve winning real tickets for prizes. Brian said it’s essential to be aware of the similarities between these activities and gambling and recognize when they become part of compulsive behaviors.

Mitch talked about adjusting his life to avoid gambling triggers, such as participating in fantasy football or sports betting. He mentioned that some people might need to cut out sports completely. It was about finding a balance and being cautious about his actions for Brian. He recalled a time when he got caught up in the outcome of a game and realized that he had to be careful about his interests and focus.

They both acknowledged the challenges of living in a world where gambling is constantly advertised and promoted. Mitch pinpoints that adapting and changing is essential rather than expecting the world to change for them. He explained that he gradually established a foundation that enables him to view these ads without being provoked. But it’s essential to approach it one day at a time and remain aware of its addictive inclinations.

Coping in a World with Prevalent Gambling

Brian and Mitch had an open and honest chat about their experiences with gambling and how it has affected their lives. They discussed the ever-increasing presence of gambling ads and how it can be hard to escape them. Brian mentioned how his friends in Michigan, even non-gambling friends, were fed up with the constant bombardment of gambling ads. They both agreed that learning how to cope with a world where gambling is legal and more prevalent than ever is essential.

During their conversation, Mitch opened up about his personal life and affair that almost ended his marriage. He talked about how he hadn’t been fully working on his recovery and, as a result, made poor choices in other areas of his life. It was only when he was committed to working the 12 Steps as he saw real change and growth. He now focuses on staying connected to his recovery daily and practices the principles in all areas of his life.

Brian thanked Mitch for his honesty, as it’s often the willingness to be open about our mistakes that can help others the most. They both agreed on the importance of raising awareness about gambling addiction and supporting those who need it. Brian encouraged anyone who would like to share their story to get in touch with the podcast.

Ultimately, Mitch expressed his gratitude to Brian for his dedication to the podcast and for creating a platform where people can share their experiences and support each other in their journey to recovery. Click here to listen to the whole story.

Founder of QuitGamble Anders Bergman
Anders Bergman
Anders Bergman MSc, MA
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