Gambling addiction happens to the best of us

“I was still emotionally 13. I had stopped growing emotionally. Addicts are always trying to get that immediate fix, trying to fill that void with outside things like drugs and shopping. It is a progressive disease which is unique for each person.

“Then I wanted more. I tried cocaine. It numbed me from fear. It made me more sociable. It was easy to get and it became a necessity for me.”

Kate went back to school for training and found a job she loved and excelled at. When not at work, she continued using alcohol and cocaine, which cost hundreds of dollars a month.

“Addicts become very good liars and manipulators. We turn into what you want us to be to get what we want. I got loans from my parents. They still thought my only problem was that I was drinking too much. I hate to think of what I put my family through.”

She had her first son when she was 28 but realized she wasn’t able to cope with taking care of him and sent him to live with his father.

She married again in her early 30s and had another son who she also had to give to his father.

“I was more and more self-centred, not thinking of anything or anybody, just getting my fix. Addiction is very hard on women because they will go places and do things they would never normally do just to get drugs. The drugs numb a person’s value system and moral system. I was chasing the high — the one more hit that would get me to where I wanted to be. By the time I was 42, I started using heroin and prescription drugs that I bought on the street and cost thousands of dollars a month. Outside of work, where I felt good because I was helping people, I just wanted to be high. My life was a mess.” ...

“It was scary and hard but I stayed clean and sober for eight months. I learned so much from the program and the fellowship, then a relationship broke up and I couldn’t cope. I went straight to a dealer and started using again. I picked up a crack pipe. I would have a hit off my pipe, feel good for 20 minutes, start crying, have a hit, again and again. I wasn’t eating and was very thin. I thought the drugs would take away the bad feelings but it made them worse. It was complete and total despair.”

“There were drugs,” he said. “My drug of choice was cocaine and alcohol. Cocaine was recent, in the last two years, last two and a half years. I depended more on the alcohol than the cocaine. It took me to a place where I felt safe. It took me to a place where I felt like … nobody could say anything to me. It took me to a place where I could just reach out and grab my mom [who died of cancer in 1991]. I was dependent on those drugs, those alcohols.” --Boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya

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“I was still emotionally

Sometimes it's not stopping gambling, but what will we place gambling with? What are our new hobbies? We need to fill out spare time with constructive hobbies.

Replacing one addiction with

Replacing one addiction with another is common with addicts. Hope things turn out well.

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Former Power Business

Former Power Business Manager Jonathan Schwartz is due to be sentenced May 3, after pleading guilty to criminal charges in connection with stealing millions from clients - including Alanis Morissette. Both the singer and his former employer have sued Schwartz, although he settled with the star. Here, in his own words, he shares part of his story and promises to make amends to those he has wronged.


To My Community:

I am writing this open letter to you so that you can learn from my mistakes and never find yourself in the situation I am now in. I am a convicted felon who has fully accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty to federal charges related to my embezzling over $7 million from my clients and business partners over a six-year period and not paying tax on it.

I used to have it all - a great family, a job that I loved and high-profile clients that I represented, partners whom I respected and respected me, and a reputation in the community for hard work, excellent service, and commitment to charities that helped the less fortunate. I had never run afoul of the law before. Now I have lost it all and face going to prison for years. How did I end up throwing it all away?

The answer, in part, is that since college I was a gambling addict. I should have been more careful when I first started gambling socially because my father was a gambling addict who abandoned the family when I was young. Over the years, my gambling addiction grew, particularly as I became more successful. With that success came very high levels of stress to constantly meet my clients' demands and constantly compete with others in the industry to be the best. I often turned to drugs to deal with the stress but mostly sought refuge in the world of sports gambling. The spiral I was in was toxic. Winning did not make me feel better but losing was intolerable. If I lost, then I had to make it back and when I lost again, the hole I had dug got deeper and deeper. I felt weak and powerless, terrified by my internal demons that I was turning into my father.

I lived a double life since no one other than my bookie knew I had this "dark" side. At first, I "borrowed" a little from clients, with the hopes that I would pay them back if I won that night's bet. That snowballed, and as I kept losing, I kept stealing. I kept telling myself that I just needed one lucky break, and I'll pay them back. That lucky break never came - thankfully. I say thankfully because when I was finally caught, a bright spotlight shined on my deplorable conduct. I could not hide any longer and hit rock bottom. By seeing how pathetic I had become, I finally got the courage to ask for help.

As a result of incredible friends and my sponsor, I am now 336 days sober after committing myself wholeheartedly to the Beit T'shuvah intensive outpatient program and the Gambler's Anonymous program and meetings.

To say I am incredibly ashamed and disappointed in myself is an understatement. I have hurt everyone I cared about, my family, clients, business partners, employees, peers and friends. I had a fiduciary responsibility to serve my clients, and I violated that trust. I let everybody down, and for that I will spend the rest of my life asking for forgiveness and making amends to everyone I have hurt. The road to recovery goes one day at a time, but I now have a much better and clearer understanding of what really matters and have devoted my life to getting there.

Part of my amends include making sure that others who might be in my former situation, in super stressful jobs where the demands feel overwhelming, do not turn to drugs or gambling to deal with the stress or violate their responsibilities to others hoping no one will notice, but seek help from those around them or treatment before it is too late. Please use me as an example of what can go disastrously wrong when you start down the wrong path. Please, please follow a different path.

Most sincerely,

Jonathan Schwartz