Niall McNamee – My Gambling Addiction

Niall McNamee – My Gambling Addiction


My name is Niall McNamee, I’m 32 years of
age and I’m from a place in County
Offaly called Rhode. When I was 17 I went to UCD. I was studying an arts degree in UCD
and I was on a sports scholarship, I was
getting a grant from the government, and
I was working part-time over the weekends so
financially I was fairly okay in terms
of – I had a bit of money to play around
with so I used to go to the bookies
every Saturday with about 50 euros.
And in the early days more often than not I won
on more occasions than I lost. And
I suppose that would have planted a seed in
my head of, you know, I can…this can be a
way for me to make money and I suppose
the buzz of the gambling then kind of
got me into this mindset of “Well, Jesus,
I won this amount now, this larger amount,
and I need to be winning this amount
all the time. I need to be earning larger amounts all
the time.” So as a result of that I
started to gamble in higher amounts of
money and also the frequency of the bets
got more, became more frequent as
well, as it used to be just a Saturday and
then that turned into a Saturday and a Sunday
until eventually when I stopped in
2011 I was gambling like seven days a week
basically 24 hours a day. If I wasn’t
gambling 24 hours a day I was thinking
about gambling 24 hours a day. Often if
I lost money I’d be going “right I’m never
going back in there again” but like 20
minutes later I’d be craving that buzz
again and then that would start the
process of “okay well where am I gonna
get money” or” when can I, when am I
getting paid again” or “can I borrow money
off somebody to go back” and either win
back the money I’d lost or just replicate that buzz and keep it going because life
outside gambling for me was very very
boring and I couldn’t really find joy in
like the normal mundane things so for me
to go in to have a bet was… It was I suppose
my way of kind of stimulating
myself on a 24-hour basis. Yeah it was,
it had a very negative impact on a
lot of people I suppose. The key thing
for me when I was in addiction was I
never really realized the impact it was
having on everybody else. I suppose I was
so closed off with my own self and
I suppose if it was destructive gambling I
was losing my money and I was hurting
myself and I was destroying my life – it
didn’t really have an impact, in my mind,
on anybody else. I suppose it wasn’t
really until I stopped gambling that I
noticed the impact it had on
everyone around me. So, friends, family
and relationships over the years, team
mates, all these people were suffering
either directly or indirectly from
me gambling because my mood would be
very very different.
There could be a lot of mood swings and say
someone could meet me in the morning time and I’d be in great
form and then they could meet me in the afternoon and
I’d be a totally different person
because I would have lost money. There
was a bit of an understanding out there
that people would have known that I was gambling but probably wouldn’t have
known the extent of it and also, and this
is a big thing with gambling addiction,
is it’s very very secretive. So I
could walk down the street after losing
maybe the price of a car and meet you on
the street and you’d say well now how’s
things and I tell you everything that’s
great in my life you know but I wouldn’t
mention a thing about the money that I
just lost, or I suppose the devastation
the gambling was causing for me. I
know when I would have told my father in
2011 I suppose that was kind of the
moment where I put my hands up and said
look I can’t control this anymore. As I
said, the weeks, it was 2011 and
a lot of… I had been gambling and I just
my mood was very very bad and I was
living on my own at the time and I was
very closed off from the rest of the
world. There was a lot of isolation
there. But my father called down to me
host then one Monday night and it was half an hour
of him probing and probing a probing
until eventually I just, you know what,
hands up, this is what I’m doing said I’m
gambling, I have been for the last number of
years. I can’t stop it. I have no control
over myself when I’m gambling. So that was on a Monday night and then the very
next day I met a counselor from the
Rutland Centre in Knocklyon called
Gerry Cooney and me and Gerry sat down
read Co hotel and had a conversation about
my gambling and Gerry then brought me to my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting in Knocklyon
in the Rutland Centre that Tuesday
night. The following Friday I went and had
an assessment in the Rutland Centre with
one of the counselors up there. They
recommended that I go in for
treatment and then the very next
Wednesday I went in for the five week
program. Tough, tough few weeks in terms of, you
know, emotionally trying to deal with a
lot of the wreckage that have been
caused and stuff like that and the hurt
you’ve caused other people but it was, I
will hands up and say it’s definitely
the best five weeks of my life. The toughest,
but in hindsight the best five weeks of
my life in terms of giving me a better
understanding of addiction and also I
suppose giving me the ability now to
open my mouth and speak about things that
were affecting me,
financially and emotionally, because I suppose
that was where the recovery started then,
and the healing process started from
there. The biggest thing for me when I
was gambling was I thought I was the
only person in the world that gambled
the way I gambled. I didn’t think anyone
else had the same issues. It wasn’t until I
told my father on that Monday night, and I
went to my first Gamblers Anonymous
meeting the next night that I started to
see another group of people that were the exact
same as me. Now the stories were a little
bit different, the location might have
been different,
maybe the sums of money were a bit
different, but ultimately the underlying
theme was the exact same for me and
for them. It was similar across the board.
So usually when I meet someone maybe if
I’m having a conversation or if I’m in a
school I’m talking about my addiction
and someone says… you’ll see someone…or
someone will come up to me
afterwards and say “I’m doing the very
same thing!” or if I meet someone that
maybe a family member has contacted me
would you mind meeting up with somebody,
they’re under pressure, and they’ll
start telling me this mad story about them
gambling and I know by looking at them
that they’re like they’re waiting for me
to fall off the chair and say “oh my god I’ve
never heard anything like that that before” but the stories
are all the same. And the sums of money don’t
even matter and I often say this as well
I’ve lost X amount of money but if I had
access to ten million I would’ve lost
that as well.
It wasn’t about the money it was about
what was the bet doing for me, what was
the impact it was having on my life, what
was I trying to escape from, what was the
adrenaline rush I was getting from it, why
did I need that adrenaline rush. And I
suppose I always bring it back to that night
when I told me father
and it felt like the weight of the world
was lifted off my shoulders.
Really it’s an indescribable feeling
that I got that night when I told him.
And I’d always encourage someone, if
its in a school or if it’s a family
member or somebody – just making that
commitment or being brave enough to say,
This is where I’m at. This is exactly what’s
going on for me.
And the person that they’re telling might not
have the answers at all and that’s fine too.
But it opens that door for the right
people to show up and in my case as I
said it was counselor and then the Rutland Centre and then that process that
followed on from that. So the person that
they’re telling might not necessarily have the
answers but the answers are out there. I
never even heard a gambler’s anonymous
until I went to me first meeting. Never even knew it existed, didn’t know what it was.
And next thing here this whole new
world was opened up to me. Even if
someone thinks they have a problem with
gambling, they have a problem with gambling. Because
that thought hasn’t come into their head you know for the fun of it.
It’s there because it’s having a negative
impact in their life. Their life has
become some way unmanageable because
their gambling. And that might mean they’re
telling lies and they’re being dishonest to
family members, to boyfriend/girlfriend,
husband/wife whatever it might be. They
could be stealing money, they could be making
up excuses, they could be minimizing
it then as well, and saying now I’m only,
I’ve only had three bets today when I might have had six bets you know all those
things you know are I suppose signs that
the person themselves know that it’s the
wrong thing to be doing and that they
shouldn’t be doing it.
And yet something within them just can’t
stop them doing it. I suppose the reason I’m
here is that I can be proof that there
is recovery out there for people if
they’re stuck in the middle of the
gambling addiction – it’s not easy.
That’s one thing I will say. A lot of people stop gambling
and go back gambling and reason they go back is
because they don’t deal with the other
stuff that’s coming up emotionally. So it is, it takes a lot
of work a lot of effort but, I suppose
the life that I would have now, while
it’s difficult at times, it’s a far cry
from the life of living day to day,
not knowing, you know, what the next day
is going to bring and carry around a lot
of hurt and a lot of, I suppose, and shame
and guilt around things you would do to
place a bet and people that you’ve hurt
in order to place a bet.
There definitely is a lot of difficult sides
to recovery but ultimately it’s you know
it’s a it’s a very rewarding choice I
think for people.

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