No matter how much time passes or how often I talk about it, I still get emotional when I think about how close I came to killing myself because of my 14 year severe addiction to Vlts and Slot machines; an addiction that cost me over $500,000.00 and very nearly my marriage and my life. It's taken me ten years after ending my addiction in 2009 to regain my self-esteem and confidence. Still to this day, when someone calls me after reading my book and shares their story of being suicidal because they can't stop playing machines, it brings me back to the time I lived with those kinds of thoughts on a daily basis.
I had done everything I could possibly do, including GA meetings, private counselling, AADAC’s program for problem gamblers, reading books on addictions, intensive self-discovery and asking for divine help every day. Nothing I did seemed to help. Day after day, month after month and year after year, the Vlts and Slot machines ruled my thoughts, my life and my being. As my addiction grew in severity, I would only walk out of casinos or bars after having lost every dollar of my two bank accounts’ daily withdrawal limit and the one of three visa cards, often losing up to $1500.00 a day. Feeling like 'the scum of the earth' or a ‘stupid idiot’ for not being able to control the time and money I spent on machines became an all too familiar habit. I no longer recognized the person I had become. The strong, money-conscious, intelligent and hard-working woman I used to be had disappeared and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get her back!
I have been advocating for change to governments' gambling policies since our son died by suicide 9 years ago resulting from the senseless expansion of legalized gambling into our communities with accessibility to electronic gambling machines in over 4000 venues.
I have appeared on several television and radio news and documentary programs in Canada and the U.S. I have told our son's story for the pages of the Montreal Gazette, Maclean's, The Calgary Sun, The Calgary Herald, The Toronto Star, South Carolina's-The State, La Presse, The Globe and Mail,
The McGill Reporter, Le Journal de Montreal, The Ottawa Citizen, The National Post and others.
I got laid off February 2015, I worked in oil and gas for over 30 years. I received a very reasonable severance package as well as EI benefits. Up until then I had gambled very lightly on the electronic gambling machines usually when I went on holiday to Manitoba because they had VLTs in their bars before Alberta did, and what the hey...I was on vacation!
My limit was between $20 and $100. This was my gambling history up until the day I got laid off. No problem. About a year into my layoff, I discovered that the casino near my house had underground parking I could drive there, park underground and take the elevator to the main floor all very safely.
Being lonely and out of work I started making it a weekly outing. It started to become an obsession shortly after, the machines lead you to believe that the next spin will be the winner in fact they even show you glimpses of what you missed, for example a whole row of sevens just about on the pay line, or a whole row of Wilds just below the pay line.