Gambling is addicting. We all have our vices in life. We fall victim to scams, trust others when we shouldn’t, hurt the one’s we love, and then refuse to forgive ourselves for the damage done. What Andrew Carnegie said goes in both directions, “When I lay down at night I was going to get the verdict of approval from the highest of all tribunals, the judge within.” The judge within knows right and wrong and is usually harder on us than anyone else.
I went to high school with Jason, and he recently reached out to me to tell his story because he wanted to help others.
Jason’s ambition has continually pushed him towards further success in life. He didn’t go to college after graduating high school, but he did start his own business. His new found cash flow enticed him to yearn for more. This is when Jason met his vice.
Jason’s vice was innocent when compared to some of the harder vices in life. He didn’t do drugs, he didn’t drink his troubles away, and he stayed away from other illegal activities. His vice can actually be perceived as innocent if only looking at the end goals. He got involved in gambling because he wanted to grow his money faster.
Gambling is a very difficult addiction. It’s purposefully set up to give you little wins so you keep your hope alive. However, all gambling is tilted in favor of the house, and in the long run the house will win. I got caught up in my own form of gambling when I was day-trading so I definitely know how it feels.
Your mind races with the thoughts of doubling your money… doubling it again… and soon taking home thousands. It races with those thoughts because it knows it’s possible, and for people that gamble enough, they’ve probably experienced it themselves. You’ll always hear about the big wins gamblers experiences, but you won’t often hear of the losses.
Enough of the commentary, let’s get to Jason’s story as told by him.
Looking back, I wished I tried harder so I could of gone to college, but I didn’t so I had to make the best of it. I started my own home repair company and did well, but I started going to the casinos, and it really got a hold of me. I never tried drugs or anything. Gambling was my only vice in life.
I was going nowhere until I found out my wife was pregnant, and I knew I had to put a stop to it. I quit for about 9 months, but then I started going again every once in a while.
My business went down the drain because I was spending all of my time at the casino. Looking back, it’s crazy how it started. On my 21st birthday, a couple of buddies took me to the casino. I started by spending $20 at a time until one day I won about $500 and that was all it took. I was making gambling my job, and I was there everyday from 8am to 4pm except when I left to go to the bank.
I would lie to my ex wife and tell her I was going to work at night or to Wal-Mart and then go to the casino instead. Keep the word “Ex” in mind because on Dec 28, 2006 I walked into the casino with 40 bucks, and I walked out with $22,000. She left me seven days later and took it all. I don’t blame her because I would spend her paychecks before she even got off work on Friday.
So I had to start over and tried everything to find a good job. I looked for the highest paying jobs in my area. It took about six months to find my new job, and I started out around $30/hr. Man, that was great… but then they closed the mill. I was devastated, and I somewhat gave up thinking I would ever find another job that paid that well.
However, I knew I would have to keep trying. I looked for over 1.5 years until I finally succeeded again and found a job that topped out at $39/hr. There was only one problem with this; making good money again led me to gambling all over again.
There was only one way for me to stop the habit which I knew I had to do for my family. I had to put all my faith in God that his strength could keep me from going. So far so good. I had to get excited about saving money; just as excited as I was about gambling. I’ve made saving money my new goal and it has worked so far.
Jason’s fight with gambling isn’t uncommon, but that doesn’t make it any harder to stop. The best thing he’s doing is getting exciting about taking control of his money so his family will be better off in the future. As Trent explains in one of my favorite blogs, The Simple Dollar, one of the best ways he developed self control and perseverance is by making a “conscious choice to regularly think about my future self.” It’s even more powerful when you think about your future family and how they’ll be better off when you’re under control.
Jason is now giving back and helping others. He started an outdoor program called TK Outdoors (Taking Kids Outdoors) where they take kids without a father figure hunting and film their hunts.
Jason was able to acknowledge his vice which enabled him to deal with it. Some people have a breaking point such as Jason, but others won’t confront their addiction until it’s too late and they take everyone around them down. Which one are you?