MEET Gracie

She started her conversation 3 years ago.

I learned no amount of money would ever be enough to accomplish my financial or emotional goals. Recovery brought hope and joy to my life again.

The first time I went to a casino, I won. Little by little, I got more involved, thinking it was going to be the way out of financial problems. It quickly became my escape from grief over my sister’s unexpected death as well.

I was lonely and depressed. I spent paychecks the day I got them. I lost my house. I isolated myself from family and friends. Finally, I was admitted to the hospital for suicidal thoughts. My daughters pushed the counselors to question me about my gambling, which I thought was still my secret.

I was untruthful with the counselors about a safe place to go if they released me because I was desperate to get out and get my paycheck. The counselors found out I did not have a safe place to stay. Shame and guilt had led me to lie. I was horrified at myself and never more confused.

They confronted me, “Don’t you know that money is your drug? Your brain operates the same as if you are on cocaine and it is dangerous for you to leave here to get your drug of choice.” That totally blew me away. I had no idea about the chemistry involved or the true addiction of compulsive gambling. They feared for my life and would not let me leave. They scared me by explaining gamblers are five times more likely to commit suicide than other addicts.

The hospital staff suggested I get treatment for my disease in Minnesota. At treatment, I learned no amount of money would ever be enough to accomplish my financial or emotional goals. I am a compulsive gambler; have been for a long time. I had no idea it was an addiction, an illness or that I needed help.

Although there were 18 people from different walks of life in treatment, we all had the same story. They helped me realize while it’s easy to slip back, it’s a lot more fun to move forward. Working to overcome problem gambling brought recovery, hope and joy to my life again.

If you need immediate support for a mental health crisis call 9-1-1 or the suicide prevention and crisis counseling line 1-866-379-6363.