One man’s story of addiction: ‘Gambling away my mental health with 80-100 bets a day’

By Noel Baker (Irish Examiner)

Today marks the start of Gamblers Anonymous Awareness week. Here, one man tells Noel Baker how a mountain of debt is slowly shrinking, years after he won the battle against his addiction.

MICHAEL knew something was seriously wrong when, one day some years ago, he found himself betting on the outcome of a beach volleyball game.

It wasn’t the first time he had placed peculiar wagers, in what had become a scatter-gun approach to gambling. What started at his local greyhound track in his early teens, had escalated to the stage where he was “addicted to Teletext”, constantly seeking updates on sporting events, ploughing cash into betting on sports in which he could most certainly not claim any expertise. “Mainly racing, Moto GP, soccer…”

An enthusiastic, sharp fellow, Michael [not his real name], ultimately ended up laying between 80 and 100 bets a day and in debt to the tune of tens of thousands of euro.

“The big thing for me was not the money,” he says. “It was gambling away my mental health.”

For years, he believed he had gambling under control and freely admits that at times he had “loads of money”. The situation changed dramatically when he began chasing his losses.

At the end of one year, he owed as much as €35,000. A year later, it was more than double that amount.

He lost his job and, by the sounds of it, he almost lost his reasoning.

But now, the debt has been whittled down to a fraction of what it was.

“Every month, the money goes out it is a reminder that you never want to get into that situation again.”

The situation had reached a crisis point and he visited a doctor, informing him: “Look, I’m in big trouble.” Lying to friends and family, chasing losses, issues at work — it had all taken a massive toll and “the penny dropped”.

“The first six months, I just stopped gambling but I wasn’t changing my ways,” he says.

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Source: Irish Examiner

Gambling like all other addictions not only affects the individual but also the family members. Help and support is available at Davina’s Ark for the individual and family.