Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sick As Our Secrets

In 12 step groups the saying, "We are only as sick as our secrets is often used. 
What does that mean you may ask. 
It may not mean the same thing to everyone, especially to those who have never dealt with the demons of addiction.
I myself have. I have 36 years of sobriety, and am also a recovering compulsive gambler. I was nearing on 5 years of abstinence from gambling, until 2 days ago, when I had a slip. 
I can pinpoint the moments that led up
to my "relapse" into the insanity of my addiction. I know what I should have done to prevent it from happening, yet I chose not to. Instead I chose to put a few dollars in a video poker machine, which immediately put me into "gambling mode", which for me means that the conscientious, thoughtful, caring person that I am is gone, and replaced by the dopamine high, self centered gambling junkie.
I was setting myself up to gamble for a week or so before I went back out. I was allowing my mind to fantasize about winning, which is a joke to anyone who knows anything about compulsive gambling. We NEVER win. We only want to keep keep gambling as long as we can. That means that any money we do win, we immediately put back, in my case, into the slot machines. Money has no meaning to us at that point. It is only a means of our being able to stay in gambling action. It might as well be paper, for all we care, as long as we are able to stay in the dopamine high of compulsive gambling. When the money runs out, we crash, and reality sinks back in.
I could have avoided the pain and disappointment I caused myself and my Family. I could have prevented this slip from happening. I've been in Recovery long enough to know what I need to do when I am feeling the kind of angst and unsettling feelings I was having prior to my slip.
I kept my feelings to myself and that's the worst thing an addict can do when the thoughts of wanting to drink, use, gamble, or any addiction, come into ones mind. Keeping that kind of secret to oneself can often be the difference between life and death. Many addicts have gone back out and died in their disease because they choose to keep Secret the fact that they were struggling with the demon of compulsive urges.
If I had talked to a Friend, or Family member, I firmly believe I could have prevented this slip from happening. 
I am now One Day abstinent from gambling, instead of One Month short of 5 years. I thank God that I am in a healthier place than I was many years back, when a slip meant a full out relapse and several trips to treatment. Not to mention the devastating pain and heart ache and pain I brought upon my Loved Ones. 
If I can help anyone facing the urge to go back out and possibly lose their Life to their addiction, by sharing this story, I thank God.