Rewind four and a half years, if someone had asked me to list down ways to stop gambling it would’ve looked something like this:
- Stay away from betting establishments
- Cross the road if I need to
- Even change my usual route to prevent passing them
- Ban myself from bookies and casinos
- Ban myself online and from apps
- Hate and rebel against the industry
- Don’t associate with other gamblers
- Turn the channel when there’s a betting advert
- Skip the racing pages
- Don’t watch football or any sport I can bet on
- Hand over my finances to another
- Don’t take cash out
- Leave my money at home
- Cut up my cards
- Gamble all my money and be quick about it
- Consolidate my debts in to one loan
- Swear on the lives of my loved ones
- Make genuine promises to myself
- Get caught out
- Find some hobbies
- Get some counselling
- Think of the consequences
- Use my willpower
- Lock myself in my room (didn’t try that one!)
- End my life?
My experience is… Bar the last two, I have tried every one and probably many more, but all have failed 100%. They seem like fairly obvious answers? They appear sane and logical ideas. Like 1+1=2. It’s the kind of understandable list of suggestions a non-addict might come up with.
Maybe these suggestions would work for a ‘normal gambler’, but not for me. What worked for me is not so obvious. I would never have come up with the answer, not in a million years. It wasn’t a 1+1=2 type of solution, it was some weird and wonderful algorithm that even now could appear to some as less logical as the suggestions listed above. The importance lies in the fact it works. The answer that worked for me? A daily reprieve based on my Spiritual Health. And this was the solution that led me there:
Attend meetings and (not or) do service at meetings
and (not or) connect with fellows outside of meetings
and (not or) get a sponsor
and (not or) do a list of daily suggestions
and (not or) admitted I was powerless over gambling, that my life had become unmanageable.
and (not or) came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to a normal way of thinking and living.
and (not or) made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of this Power of my own understanding.
and (not or) made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of myself.
and (not or) admitted to myself and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.
and (not or) was entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.
and (not or) humbly asked God (of my understanding) to remove my shortcomings.
and (not or) made a list of all persons I had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
and (not or) made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
and (not or) continued to take personal inventory and when I was wrong promptly admitted it.
and (not or) sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God (as I understand him) praying only for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out.(not or) having made an effort to practise these principles in all my affairs, I tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.
As you can see, there is zero mention of how to stop gambling, or how to control my gambling obsession. Yet as an indirect result that is exactly what has been given to me. And as a cheeky little bonus, the same solution has been the answer to much, much more. Thank God there was an answer already out there, being shared by others through the ages, others who had been through it themselves. All I had to be was honest, open-minded and willing to give it a try.