Dave is a middle-aged blue-collar worker that works hard and has a beautiful family.

Day after day Dave’s life seems meaningless, he sits at work with empty thoughts and at times feels lost. Everyone around him knows that there is something brewing inside but often cannot find the right words to say. Little things cause him stress and just a little stress will send him over the edge.

After work he goes home to a loving family with dinner on the table and kids playing. To anyone else he might seem as if he has the perfect life, but little do they know he holds a deep dark secret that will eventually come out.

One day during his lunch break, pressed for time Dave goes to the local gas station to pick up something quick. While he is there he purchases a scratch off lottery ticket. With so much stress going on with life, work and family he sees no wrong in this.

Once he returns back to work he scratches the ticket and shocked he realized he had won $100.00! That moment filled him with energy and happiness and the stress seemed to go away for a little while. The rest of the day at work went great and he started to think of plans for this $100.00. He was planning on buying something nice for his wife as a surprise since their marriage seemed to be getting stale.

Right after work he started to head over to the local department store to pick out something for his wife. On the way he passed by a local casino. At that very moment he started thinking about trying to multiply his recent winnings. If he could multiply these winnings then he could also buy something nice for his children. The thoughts consumed his mind and without hesitation he turned around and went to the casino.

As Dave walked into the casino he could hear the slot machines spinning, the buzzers buzzing, winners screaming for joy. So full of life and excitement he took a few minutes to just soak in the sights and sounds of the casino.

This was his first time in a casino and he had no idea where to start. The place just looked so overwhelming but he was anxious to try his luck. He went to a nearby slot machine. The slot machine was so shiny and bright and the lights were glimmering, it looked like a lot of fun. Only 1 cent with a $100,000 jackpot! He thought to himself that the odds must be in his favor because he has $100 to spend. He put the $100.00 in the machine and began to play. He hit a bonus within a couple hits and doubled his money. His adrenaline was sky-high and he was feeling great. The stress, depression, loneliness feeling he had before was gone. It felt as if nothing else mattered. He felt completely safe, almost as if he were far away from anything that might cause hurt or pain.

1 hour turned into 2 hours and before Dave knew it 4 hours had passed. His wife had try to call him but he did not once pull out his phone or realize she was calling. By this time he was down to $20.00 and was determined to at least win his $100.00 back. He decided to change his game, he went from slots to cards. After circling the card pit a few times he found a back jack table. He exchanged his $20.00 for chips and began playing right away. Again, he doubled his money within a few minutes and was starting to feel good again. 1 hour had passed and he had went through 3 shoes of cards and was again back up to his original $100.00.

Now 5 hours into the casino and a wife extremely worried he checked his phone and had called her. He apologized for not getting back to her and said that he got caught up with work and he had an emergency last-minute meeting that lasted hours. He told her that it was finishing up and that he would be home within an hour.

This was the first time he had lied to his wife but it wouldn’t be the last. It didn’t take long for him to hide the guilt that he just felt lying to his wife about where he was. He was determined to play one more game whether he won or lost.

He seen a bunch of people around the roulette table and decided to give it a shot. They seemed to be having a lot of fun and by the sounds of it were winning! Not really understanding the game yet and knowing that he needed to leave soon he placed a $100 chip on All Red. The wheel started spinning and people were getting anxious, as it came to a stop it had landed on red. He jumped for joy, screaming and laughing! The excitement was overwhelming and he doubled his money on Red! Again, the wheel starts to spin and as it came to a stop there was a big sigh. Black! He had lost $200 in just a matter of seconds. He was not going to walk out being a loser so he went to the ATM and withdrew $500.

The money that he withdrew was supposed to be for the upcoming mortgage payment but he knew he had a couple of days until it was due and he would replace it with his winnings. He went back to the Roulette table and placed some more bets. Small at first then started getting bigger and bigger every time. He would win a few times then he would lose big. This went on for about an hour and before he knew it he had lost $1000.00 of his own money.

With only a few dollars in his pocket and feelings of guilt he made his way to the exit. On the way out he put his last few dollars in a slot machine, hoping his luck would turn around. He lost, he had lost more than just money but a part of himself. He allowed the temptation to get the better of him and he left with nothing.

On Dave’s way home he just kept thinking to himself he should have left when he was ahead. He felt horrible and didn’t know what he would tell his wife about losing all that money. Once he made it home she immediately embraced him at the door. The kids were asleep and there was some cold dinner on the table that she ended up heating for him. She asked about his day and about the meeting. He didn’t want to talk about it, he just told her it was very stressful and he was tired and would talk about it at a later time.

The next day at work Dave felt miserable, he was tired and could feel the pain and disgust with himself. He started to get depressed. He couldn’t stop thinking about going back and winning what he had lost. He had no money to take back to the casino so he decided he would approach a co-worker.  He made up a story about some recent financial struggles and needing to borrow some money until the next pay-day. The co-worker knew him very well and without hesitation agreed to loan him the money.

He talked to his boss and told him that a family member was sick and needed to leave work a little early. The boss had sympathy and agreed to let him leave right after lunch.

Right after his lunch Dave went straight to the casino with borrowed money and his wife thinking he was still at work. At this point he has told numerous lies to people who really cared about him and he had spent all the money that was for upcoming bills. He took this borrowed money and spent the next 4 hours at the casino.

Dave could not feel the pain and the hurt that he had the previous night. He felt free from life and all the stress. It was a new day and he was determined to make everything right once he had won his money back. The cycle continued, winning and losing time after time until there was no more to lose.

How could this happen? How could he fall into the trap once again? He felt destroyed and lost.

This pattern lasted over a year. His marriage got significantly worse and he was in jeopardy of losing his job because he was constantly late for work and wasn’t producing the results necessary to keep up. He was on a fast-moving downward spiral with no hope of pulling out of it.

It all started with a simple scratch off ticket. From there it led to other things and eventually led to hurting everyone around him. He felt out of control and hopeless. It all could have been avoided if he would have said no to temptation.

This is a story that we all know too well. It’s not just with gambling but for any kind of addiction. We see our friends and family suffer and struggle through this powerful illness and some of us actually live it. It’s not easy to overcome and it’s not easy to admit to others what we have done. Even though it’s not easy, it is necessary to be honest with our self and others about what is going on in our life. The faster that we realize this and the sooner we realize that we cannot fight this battle alone then the sooner we will be able to break our self from Addiction that eats at our soul.

The message I hope you take from this is to Never Give Up! No matter how bad things get or no matter how bad we are on our downward spiral we can get back on the right path. It takes determination and perseverance. We cannot do this alone so let’s fight this together!

© Tim Foster – 2015

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