First trial part – 4

First week of treatment program has passed quickly. I have to say, that when you are in hospital and you are actively following the program you get into it. You forget where you are and you try to do your best. I got used to other patients and medical staff. It helped me that treatment wasn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be. I expected scenes like in the movies, patients with severe mental health problems in strait jackets and horrible attitude toward them. I expected madhouse from Hollywood. It probably helped me that I came to the hospital voluntarily and willing to change something about me. I was accepted on open department of psychological hospital. Many patients are forced to come here accompanied with police or paramedics. They are under the influence of forbidden substances. Until they are not sober and ready to cooperate with medical staff, they have to stay in closed section of the hospital. When they came to my department I talked to them and I realized that situation there is totally different. They were all on strong pills, they were not aware of themselves, they had serious mental health problems and security services are much stronger there. Whole hospital has the same playground with athletic track. Patients from all departments are allowed to use it. I faced with patients from closed department for the first time when I was on a run. When I saw their empty faces, absent looks in eyes and scary form of body movement, my whole body was shaking. I felt uncomfortable. I would hide myself in a shell like a turtle if I could. They weren’t aggressive, more like scarily passive. Later I was thinking about upstroke between my department and closed one. I knew that if I would continue with this lifestyle, my next hospital healing would be in other department. That stroke me down. Is that really me? From that experience I got motivation and power for healing. I knew that I can do better.

I was really happy about healing plan witch made weekend exits possible if you were active in the program. If you accomplished first three assignments, you were allowed to go home for the weekend. After accomplishing first half of a healing program, you can go home every weekend. Teetotalism is of course first condition for that. Alcohol addicts or drug addicts are tested with an alcoscope or urine test when they come back. But the problem is, how to test gambling addicts? In Slovenia there is no special department or program for people with gambling addiction. Because of that medical staff had to follow their gut. My testing was based on trust. I am not sure if there was any other option. Beside that cellphones were allowed after 8.00 pm so there really wasn´t anything other than trust between me and medical staff. That also surprised me, because I expected stricter isolation from the outside world. I blocked a few main online sports betting sites (there are over 20.000 different betting sites) that I was using (Bwin, Bet365, William Hill, Betway, Unibet, 1xBet, Sportnigbet). There is not that many sites where you can exclude yourself from playing for the rest of your life. Usually there is only an option of self-exclusion for a few years and then you can play again. I have also installed BetBlocker application on my PC. That restricted me from logging in many online betting sites, but not all of them. There are still many other options. You can play on mobile devices or you just stop on the first gas station and you can play. It is impossible to hide from betting. Every restriction aids you, because reducing opportunities helps to reduce betting episodes. I also added one more safety check. I gave my bank account in supervision to my family. The truth is, that that all helped me, but there is no guarantee that I would not play anymore. I have helped myself with all this before, but it always ended badly. Many times I was holding my teetotalism but then I got an email that my restriction on bwin has expired. I went and bet again. And it is getting harder every time. Again I have spent all money that I have saved before. That really is a vicious circle from witch it is very difficult to escape.

How do we define gambling addiction? One of the definitions goes like this: it is an addiction when gambling becomes a way of regulating ones emotional life. Person becomes so addicted, that the way they behave is not a choice but a defense mechanism from which his survival is dependent. Chemical addictions work on abusing chemical substances for reaching a stunning condition. At gambling person reaches that condition by feeling of winning and it only increases with higher levels of risk. Gambling becomes a way of escaping from reality and resolving problems. It becomes a poor strategy for life. Powerless and unmanageable are the two words that describe ones feelings and anguish. Gambler believes that he/she has everything under control. Because of negative consequences he/she tries to stop, but cannot anymore. (summarized from: At this point of my knowledge about gambling I realized that only teetotalism will not be enough. It is important that I discover causes for my addiction. Why am I running away? From what or who? Why I am not able to deal with problems?

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