Wales Online Journalist Opens Up about Crippling Gambling Addiction
by Glenn Baird - March 16, 2020
David Owens, who describes himself as Senior multimedia journalist at Wales Online has written a candid piece on his struggles with gambling addiction, and in doing so has called for a reform of the 2005 Gambling Act to help others suffering with what he has described as a “silent disease”.
In his article published at the weekend David Owens details every minor and major step that he took on his downward spiral into gambling addiction. He writes about being a casual gambler, someone who would place the occasional £10 accumulator to give the weekend’s footballing fixtures a little added excitement. For most of his life he was the epitome of the healthy recreational gambler.
Then he mentions the promotion that caught his eye. His first significant win. The rush that it gave him, and how it mutated his relationship with gambling.
He describes chasing losses, maxing credit cards and lying to loved ones. He wrote emails to himself during moments of clarity, hoping that they would act as a warning when the addiction took hold. He writes about his attempts to self-exclude, something that he clarifies as bordering on impossible, given the duplicitous nature that a gambling addict embodies.
He describes gambling addicts as “…conniving and devious. We will know every trick, every way to circumnavigate blocks.” GamStop could not prevent him from making his way to the casinos it did not block and as such he went from thinking he had a means to control his problem to finding a way to continue feeding it.
It is a story of hurt and betrayal, of wins and big losses, but ultimately it is a story of about shame and self-loathing. Owens needed help, he knew he needed help but did not seek it because he was too ashamed to ask for it and once he was drowning in debt, misery and despair he hated himself so much for getting to that point that oblivion and the self-destruct button set in.
He finishes the piece on a relatively positive note, describing the introduction to Gamblers Anonymous as the turning point in his fight with his demons. It was an environment where he wasn’t made to feel ashamed for what he had done and what he felt driven to continue doing.
If you read the article you’ll see how eloquent it is. Owens is no fool, yet that is precisely how he did feel when he could no longer control that urge. He describes gambling addiction as the “silent disease” because unless you know what you are looking for there are no obvious signs. Unlike heroine or alcohol addiction it can be hidden from plain sight and as such, that shame he writes about can be hidden deep down away from judgemental eyes.
On his Twitter handle, along with his job description Owens describes himself as a “Compulsive gambler in recovery.” Owens has made it through 267 days without gambling but is likely to continue to count those days for years to come as long as he can stay away from the casino.
For anyone suffering in silence I cannot recommend this honest account of the pain and suffering caused by gambling addiction enough. Owen’s bravery to come out and speak about his addiction is a shining light for anyone searching for the inspiration needed to break the “vicious, self-perpetuating cycle” that gambling addiction reaps on its victims.