The word "addiction" is tossed around lightly in society -- I'm addicted to chocolate, might as well face it I'm addicted to love, I'm so addicted to the things you do.
But true addiction is continual use in the face of negative consequences, mainly when that use begins to affect work, health, relationships, or finances.
For some, that's Bejeweled Blitz and its constant Facebook status updates that cause all your FB friends to either unfriend you or stage a mini-intervention.
In my case, my addiction is whenever gambling, and the effect is all of the above with the exception of maybe work, where it ironically helps.
As soon as I start gambling, I can't stop, I have no control. Playing slots, in my head I'll make mental notes that I'll cash out when I get to a certain point (when I'm down or up to this amount or when I hit the next bonus or when I get my drink or when it's this or that time), then when I get there I'll renegotiate with myself, and this inner exchange goes on until I'm down to nothing. No matter how much I win I will give it all back as well as whatever's in my pockets, including ATM withdrawals and credit card cash advances. I would pawn or eBay something if I had anything of value.
I've mentioned stories of when grubette and I would first visit Atlantic City when slots accepted coins, and I'd put my last nickels into the machine before boarding the shuttle bus back to D.C.
I have this need for action, it isn't about winning for me (if it were about winning, I wouldn't play the worst game in the casino or I'd at least only be playing Mega Millions for a chance at something big). Losing to me is just as strong an emotion. I relish stories of other people winning just the same as I regale in my own losing stories -- it becomes a contest how much you've lost just as much as how much you've won. Dropping a few nickels into those slots wouldn't have won any jackpots, but ridding myself of all my money signaled that I could finally stop and go home.
Every single ad that appeared on the left column of this blog was paid for via transfer to my casino or poker account, and every bit of that was gambled away at their casino.
I've gambled away entire paychecks in one sitting. If I get a reimbursement check, I spend that too. My car was totalled a few years ago, and the insurance check I received went entirely to online blackjack. I never replaced the car.
In Las Vegas, I took a friend to the bank so he could withdraw $2500 and I could borrow it.
I often kid about the tolls of gambling and being unable to stop until losing everything, but unfortunately all of that is too true and is fast catching up with me.
So this gambling "habit" of mine comes with consequences, and one of those is that for the first time, I am going to have to skip this year's WPBT event next week.
For my own health and well-being, not to mention bank account, I can't go back to Las Vegas for awhile.
I've actually already paid for everything and the rooms and food are free, but I know the cost to change the flight will be far less than what I will end up losing while there. And I can use that flight for something else.
AlCantHang mentioned meeting at Lagasse's Stadium (the snazzy lounge-turned-sportsbook with patio inside The Palazzo), and for those going Friday, Dec. 11 from 7-9 p.m., here's an offer to get free Ambhar Tequila and Bud Light Golden Wheat, plus half off appetizers, all for watching basketball and not having to gamble a cent.
To RSVP, sign up at Las Vegas Weekly
Not much more to say about how far I've fallen because it's still too fresh. Only now am I dealing with the repercussions of what I did while in Vegas. Maybe one day I'll be able to post all the gory details.
I'll miss you guys, but grubette will represent.