Are We Gambling Addicts?
Guest Post by Marty Klein
I was interviewed about my new book, The Enlightened Gambler, on the radio last week. The one-hour interview went well, but I was a little surprised when the host, who read the whole book and loved it, took the point of view that I was a recovering gambling addict. I never saw myself as a gambling addict. I just gambled almost every day, and most of the time I was totally engaged and enjoying myself. I never lost thousands of dollars and never turned toward crime to support my so called addiction. I was just spicing up my days with a little action. So, was I really a gambling addict? What do you think?
My picture of an addict has always been somebody who was out of control, someone who ruined their lives because of the addiction. Well, this obviously wasn’t my situation. But I now realize that those who will read The Enlightened Gambler may interpret my words in many different ways, and if they think of me as a recovered gambling addict, well, so be it. My job, as I see it, is to be open to all interpretations from my readers, and then go down whatever path they take me on. I didn’t write the book to rigidly push any agenda about gambling. No. I wrote the book to help assist my readers as well as myself toward a more conscious understanding, specifically of gambling, and, in general, of all other forms of risk taking
So, why don’t we take a good look at the idea of addiction. First of all most addicts do not want to look at whatever they may be addicted to. So my guess is this blog will probably not be very helpful to most of them. But how do we enthusiasts, who love to gamble, draw a line between enjoyment and addiction? We’ve all heard the term, “a functioning alcoholic,” which is used for those people who manage to maintain respectable lives in spite of their alcoholic issues. Are you, or for that matter, am I a functioning gambling addict? How do we balance our desire to immerse ourselves in that seductive world of gambling, while still maintaining the discipline to stop when we know it’s time, whether we are winning or losing? And how much does the desire to get back to a gambling environment usurp your attention for other important things in your life, like family, work and health?
I can’t answer these questions for you, but I certainly can for myself. I still love the juice I get from gambling whether I win or lose. However, like most of us, I prefer winning. I definitely have moments during each day when I watch my attention shift from one thing to some kind of gambling memory or fantasy. But my little diversions do not undermine my life style in any way. If I have a job to do, well I do that job in the best way I can. I take pretty good care of my health and I enjoy time with friends and family. Can you honestly assess how your love of gambling affects the rest of your life, if at all?
In The Enlightened Gambler I wrote a little bit about the power of denial. The best way to honestly make a fair assessment of the influence of gambling on your life is to ask your spouse or partner. Ask them, and then be willing to respect what they say to you. They most assuredly see the effects on us, usually much better than we see it on ourselves. Their assessment doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative one. On occasion, if they have no hidden agendas against gambling, they might even point out how dabbling in that land of uncertainty brings out the best in us. They might tell us that we are more relaxed and enjoyable to be with, right after we come back from a gambling experience. My guidance here is for us to just be open to hear what they say.
I’m looking forward to the next time I go to my local casino, and I’m also looking forward to my next radio interview. Who knows what will come up in the conversation, but I bet money it’ll be material for another blog.
Marty Klein is the author of The Enlightened Gambler, The Heart and Spirit of the Risk Taker in All of Us.