In essence it appears that almost every person has their addictions. Something they are compelled to do, and with the utmost constancy- with an urge and a push that almost never fails them. These addictions could be anything from coffee, alcohol, drugs to porn. Of all the addictions i succumbed to i feel i was part of one of the worst- gambling. My gambling addiction occurred for me between the ages of 24-27. In these few years i lost up to or around $25,000. No- i am not rich. I would gamble until i literally had nothing of my wages left for another week. I’d eat away at my savings until there was nothing left, indeed i was in a downward spiral.
At my age to have no money saved- whilst being in no debt was indeed embarrassing. This gambling addiction was never seen because i hid it so well. I’d scrape the surface, but never ask anyone for money or make it obvious that i was broke. Instead i would become a hermit, i would do nothing that involved money and would stay home declining on many tempting invitations from family and friends. It was never clear to me how my gambling addiction came to be, near my home is a “hotel” with a good amount of pokie gambling machines. I am pretty sure it took a few casual visits until i found myself in numerous joints with gambling machines– I’d withdraw hundreds after hundreds of dollars in one session- i remember once during pay day i found myself spending $900 in that night, having $400 remaining for a fortnight.
Sure, it was good when i won- which was a rare event. My biggest win was probably $1,200. Yet the feeling of loss cut the most. I’d go back to my car in tears, I’d cry and yell at myself- literally screaming at myself in the car. I don’t consider myself a stupid guy, and i know i have plenty of wisdom- why did i not use this wisdom on myself? I knew that i knew better– yet i was far too weak and I’d find myself in the same position the next week. I’d look around and notice the environment i was in- these dark pubs full of brightly lit pokie machines- sounds of machines and flashy lights with people staring into a screen like zombies, tapping on the same button over and over again.
I’d observe the people around me and their reactions, mostly it was negative. I’d see people smashing the screens, swearing, cursing and walking around aggressively. I’d see people looking at my win jealously, i’d see people running out of the pub whilst hitting the “reserve” button to lie to their loved ones on their whereabouts. Indeed what i would witness are peoples lives being destroyed and seeing it from this perspective actually was the beginning of the end for me. All it took was for me to stop being a robot and clearly observe the environment i voluntarily put myself in– what a hell hole! For me my addiction had nothing to do with money, i didn’t want to become rich via gambling yet there was something enticing and exciting about the imagery and sounds- i put money in the machine just like paper, it meant nothing to me. I lived this double life that no one else knew i had, when people found out they were shocked because they couldn’t see me putting myself in such a position for so long, but i did and i am ashamed.
I wanted to look deeper into my faith, and what exactly my religion told me about gambling and really try to understand the message within it and this for me was the big awakening and the solution for me- a believing man- was so simple. When i read the Qur’an and its verse on gambling something clicked inside my heart and what began as a simple reading for me- became a challenge…a challenge of faith– how REAL am i? Surely i am not the most practicing Muslim in the world and surely i speak of Islam much, but how much do i actually practice of what i “preach”. The Qur’an states on gambling the following:
“They ask you concerning intoxicants and gambling. Say: “In them is great sin, and some benefit for mankind, but the sin is greater than the profit.”
The next verse did it for me.
“O you who have believed, surely intoxicants and gambling, (idol) altars and divining are only an abomination of Satan’s handiwork- So avoid it, that you may prosper. Satan only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?“
I did decipher both verses and to me, it made perfect sense. Yes i know that we know gambling and alcohol may have some temporary good for people to a certain degree- yet that pleasure and joy is not worth it knowing we have the chance to become addicted to such things, they are indeed dangerous. So yes there is some good, but the bad outweighs the good– so why do it? The other saying really hit home for me as well, when i looked at the environment around me (negative, angry, depressing, gloomy) i could easily see it was a house of evil in there. Alcohol DOES cause animosity and hatred between people, even if its just for a limited stage. Go look at how many fights and indecencies occur when people are drunk, go look at the envy, anger and resentment gambling does to people.! It breaks families, relationships and a mans confidence- it literally eats him up to be a former image of himself… You feel so worthless and at times suicidal– It’s astonishing.
Finally the verse tells me it makes me forget Allah- who i do believe in, and that it diverts me from prayer and my own faith asks me- “Will you not desist?” . Given the logical reasoning and my love for God and his wanting for me to “prosper” i knew there was only one thing i had to do, for myself- and that was QUIT. I came up with a simple quitting plan that would test myself and my faith- whenever gambling or the pub/casino came to my mind i would REMEMBER Allah instead. In a short time, this worked for me like magic would. I was a changed man so soon and a huge majority of the time despite my strong impulse to gamble i knew that my God wants me to be the most successful and prosperous person and that he supports me and is with me- but i need to do it for myself first and indeed weeks later i stopped and since then i have not gone near gambling.
Although i barely drink nowadays, alcohol is the next thing i would like to abolish seeming we as humans have an instinct for addiction– we love repetitive patterns and we enjoy doing things with consistency – sometimes we are so caught up and deluded by our addictions we don’t even realize we are addicted to things. Now i am on a saving streak, i am building my savings account and i am catering for all those losses in those few short years, i want to be a man of responsibility, i want to be financially stable and i want to PROSPER.
Thanks for reading on my experience.
Salam Alaykum, Peace.