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The importance of abstinence. (A gamblers perspective)



The importance of abstinence. (A gamblers perspective)

Old 04-01-2014, 12:30 PM
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The importance of abstinence. (A gamblers perspective)

Why do I choose abstinence with gambling I am not about to tell anyone that the only way to recover is total abstinence, there seems to be many different types of gambler and levels of unmanageability. Personally I don't really care about how long its been since our last bet, in unto itself it does not really represent much. But of course if I can lead a rich, robust and fulfilling life without gambling then time maybe important.

I set up the "no gambling" policy in my life because it offers a clear cut line to attend too. Its mainly based on a very clear understanding on the reasons why I gambled or enjoyed gambling so much, also honest understanding that the gambling that got my brain buzzing and emotions firing was uncontrolled risk/reward that could only lead to unmanageable mayhem. The evidence for this is undeniable. Gambling that was controlled or limited was very uncomfortable for me unless I could get to a place where outcomes were unknown.

This all comes down to my brain, dophamine and adrenaline was a rich cocktail that did something for me In my gambling that regular living could not do. I was the person who always felt like an outsider when in came to feeling highs in life from, acheivement and hard work, spurts of over the top attempts to be "the best" followed by sudden feelings of disinterest, failure and low esteem. I can't really put my finger on it but its a kind of expectation of trying too feel content in life with little effort. When gambling came along it truly felt like this was what I was searching for. So gambling was never going to be about making money, or a regular social activity it is about my brain and the imbalance. So today because the only reason I gambled was about "lack of control" I do not have the resources financially to do that (the more money I have the greater the risks I would have to take to hit the "sweet spot") I also do not have the emotional resources to deal with unmanageability, or to hurt people I love. Thats what gambling does to people like me, it hurts others and hurts us in a pile of shame.

Most of my recovery is based on awareness of myself and scientific explanations that explain my brain. Being a critical thinker and even a skeptic right in the middle of my own thinking has been a mainstay for me. Any attempt by me to have controlled gambling is crazy because its not what I like. It also is taking the clear line of abstinence and turning into a blurry line where decisions are guess work. I am always suspicious of my thought that comes along saying maybe controlled gambling is OK, given what I know about my gambling nature it is never OK. But having said that I still greet my ideas with smile and wave them by. This is a personal journey for me, its not about external forces of good and bad, its not about all being the same. At the end of the day it is up to the individual to take steps to take responsibility, to seek other more manageable ways of living while still being excited about life.
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Old 04-01-2014, 07:35 PM
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I have lots in common with you, Sam. No drinking ever, ever again, no matter what, is certainly a clear instruction to be simply followed, and the degree of difficulty is completely up to me - easy or hard, the choice is mine. The execution is only as difficult as I choose to make it.

I am not suspicious of any thought about controlled drinking, it is the same as any other thought of drinking - there is no doubt or uncertainty in my mind what those thoughts can lead to if I were to follow them.

I also feel that self awareness and mindfulness, and acceptance too, are powerful tools for sobriety and for mental health in general. Maybe when this life lesson was being taught I was out having a coupla beers.
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Old 04-02-2014, 12:29 AM
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My father has lost everything in his life to gambling. To make matters worse he won the lottery, so talk about a skewed reward motivation pathway system. He has lost multiple times more than the $1M lottery winnings. In my opinion, it does not matter to what recovery program you subscribe. The pathology of a gambling high with PET scans resembles cocaine addiction. If in fact you are addicted to gambling or addicted to any substance or behavior, I do not believe moderation is possible. Again, this is my opinion and based on the said substance or behavior being an addiction. This means you are escaping and using the behavior in this case to satisfy what you lack naturally. Like my father, you will never be satisfied and if you play a game with less than 50% odds then you are destined to loose everything.
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Old 04-02-2014, 06:02 AM
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Great post Sam, thanks much. I like your explanation of the simplicity and the clear cut nature of the total abstinence decision. I had not thought about it like that before. Ome answer for every situation - not going to happen. Very powerful. Of all the great things you wrote however, this line really struck a chord

I can't really put my finger on it but its a kind of expectation of trying too feel content in life with little effort.

Wow does this hit home, in the same vein as the self responsibility message of RR. Good stuff to think on. Thanks for sharing.
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