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Gambling Addiction Recovery

My name is Charli and I’m an addict

For the first time in memory, Charli is looking forward to the future after completing our residential addiction treatment program for her addiction issues.

My name is Charli and I’m an addict. My addictive poison was gambling. Although it’s not a tangible substance like drugs or alcohol, the effects of addiction and addictive behaviours are exactly the same.

During my addiction, I got myself to rock bottom and to a point where I simply could not stop myself. I lied, cheated and stole and did all of the typical things addicts do to keep their habit alive.

I have completed the ninety day residential rehabilitation program at Hader Clinic Queensland and am two months into my intensive outpatient program here.

While I’ve had a few challenges, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in the outpatients’ program and the structure it provides.

However, I probably should start at the beginning.

You could say that my family life pre disposed me to addiction. My Dad was addicted to alcohol and gambling which I’m sure had something to do with my parents’ separation. Both of my parents remarried and on my Dad’s side, my five step siblings were all addicts – to drugs, alcohol, you name it. I knew nothing else but addiction growing up.

My Mum, luckily, was not an addict. However, it wasn’t roses on this side of the family either. She remarried and I was sexually abused by my then step father for 12 months. I was traumatised and broken by this experience. At fifteen, I had to go to court and the end result was that he was jailed for his actions.

However, the damage had been done. I had little self esteem or confidence in myself. My experience left me feeling empty and worthless.

I turned to alcohol and drugs and tried “all the things”. However, there was a little whisper of a voice inside me that told me that drugs would not solve my problems, so I stopped.

Instead I met my partner, Trevor, who I would end up marrying. I leant on him and relied on him for everything. We didn’t talk about my sexual assault. At the time it was a relief not to have to think about it. We were together for 11 years and split up when I was in residential rehab for addiction treatment.

When I was eighteen, Dad took me to the pub where we drank and gambled. You could say that I got a taste for gambling almost straight away. Soon I was hooked and all of the lying, secretive and evasive behaviour that is part of addiction started creeping in.

I was a maestro at hiding my feelings, hiding money and not letting anyone into my inner world. In fact nobody knew about my gambling problem until three days before I went to rehab, I was THAT good at hiding it.

Like all addictions though, gambling started controlling me, rather than the other way around. I was totally out of control and completely powerless to stop myself. Underneath it all, I felt broken, worthless and undeserving of good things.

My husband never suspected a thing, even though I was hiding money and draining our joint account. My lies were convincing enough for him to believe that the bank had made a mistake, and had stuffed up somewhere. I also shifted money from account to account, covering my tracks as best I could.

My addiction came into the open when Trevor became concerned about the irregular transactions and the river of money that was going out of our account. It soon became apparent that he would need to get answers. It was a day, where literally everything blew up.

Trevor was naturally confused and angry and asked me to leave our home. This was the beginning of the end of our marriage as he did not understand addiction, nor did he want to understand it. Neither did he understand that I was suffering from mental health issues related to my assault and that my self worth was in tatters.

Thankfully I was able to move in with my older sister and had Mum to support me as well. They did not know what to do with me. They decided that I needed professional help and got me into The Hader Clinic Queensland. Over the years we had sent Dad to various public rehabs but he would leave after a few days and we’d be back to square one.

We decided we wanted to do a proper program and make a commitment to being in rehabilitation for an extended period of time. ‘Do it once well and get well one. This is a lifetime problem we deal with one day at a time’.

In regards to going to residential rehab, I knew I needed help and wanted to accept it too. However, I initially didn’t believe I needed to stay in there for more than thirty days, writing to my Mum, saying “what the hell am I doing in a drug and alcohol rehab when I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol?”

However, it soon became very obvious to me that I wasn’t any different from anyone else that was in rehab. The behaviours surrounding our addictions were all the same. After thirty days, I was scared at the prospect of going home. I’d just scratched the surface of what was really eating me and I wasn’t ready.

Staying in rehab felt more normal. I enjoyed rehab, I enjoyed spending time on myself and liked being able to share my feelings. It was a relief to feel safe in an environment where I wasn’t being judged.

During the last thirty days of rehab my marriage ended. I knew that I would need extra support as this event unfolded, therefore I needed no convincing to stay for ninety days. Even though the break up was hard, rehab taught me that I had been in an unhealthy relationship for eleven years.

I had been emotionally abused – I had no access to my own money, I had to hide everything. I couldn’t eat, dress or see my friends without his permission. We weren’t equals in the relationship, and the way I was treated only furthered feelings of worthlessness, and just feeling shit about myself.

I had no voice. I may not have bruises, but I have since learned that this is the most common form of domestic violence.

Since I completed rehab, I have lost some relationships within my family. I had to learn to set some boundaries.

Dad called me up, a few times, drunk out of his mind. I no longer take these calls.

I am choosing to put my recovery front and centre.

However, I’ve strengthened family relationships with those who matter most, my mum and my sister, who have supported me from day one, since finding out about my addiction. I don’t have an option to put my program down, that’s not me.

My Mum has been great. She has been taking on the recovery journey with me and joined Gamblers Anonymous. We are doing the ’12 Steps’ together and I know that I’m getting the right support from the right members of my family – I’m grateful for their support, it has made such a difference.

I am feeling better about myself. I AM worthwhile and I deserve good in my life. Rehabilitation has really made me see that.

In the intensive outpatient program, I attend the Hader Clinic Queensland head office for check in five days a week.

As I mentioned previously, I am grateful for the structure that the program has given to my life. I am slowly stepping into more of my own routines, so that when I finish the outpatient program I have created structure and accountability in my own life to move on with.

During my time so far in the outpatient program it has been great to actively encourage others to come along with me to a Gambling Anonymous Meeting.

Some have come along to give me support, only to find themselves having a lightbulb moment about the impact Gambling has had in their life and understanding it is also a contributing factor in their addiction.

I am planning on remaining as an outpatient until the end of the year. I am not wanting to take chances or cut corners with my recovery.

I’d rather take things a bit slower than rush back into life and not be quite ready to deal with the various challenges that will come up in life.

For the first time in memory, I’m looking forward to the future.

I was lucky enough to be able to take leave without pay from my employer and I’m planning on going to university to finish the degree I started many years ago.Life is good and I have the Hader Clinic Queensland to thank for getting me onto the right path.

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