2020.03.07 11:46

#ToBe. What's it like to be compulsive gambler? – video

#ToBe: an video series exploring what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.

Konstantinas has gambled away six-figure sums and is still deep in debt. What's it like to live with a compulsive gambling addiction?

Read more: #ToBe. What's it like to be blind?

“How much is immaterial,” he says. “If I started thinking how much I've lost, I'd return to gambling to win it back.”

At his worst, Konstantinas would gamble his own money, borrow from friends and even steal from his employer. “It was impossible not to see” he had a problem, he says.

His mother was the biggest victim of Konstantinas' addiction. She would borrow from banks to cover his gambling debts, believing – or pretending to believe – his lies and excuses.

“She was afraid for me, her only son, that I'd do myself in,” Konstantinas says. She was also the one who shook him out of his complacency.

At one point his mother told him: “Kostas, if you want to kill yourself, do it so that the insurance pays for your funeral, we have no money for that.”

After this, he checked into a treatment programme where he found a space where he could speak about his problems frankly, something he couldn't do with either his family or girlfriend.

Discovering faith was crucial in his fight against addiction, Konstantinas says.

He was also forced to accept that he wasn't just a compulsive gambler, but an alcoholic and a drug addict as well – and that these addictions reinforced one another.

“I realised alcohol caused great many problems in my life,” he says. “Either I stay away from everything, or nothing.”

And so far, things have been going well for Konstantinas. “For two years, I've stayed away from everything and life's been so easy, I'm so happy for myself.”