When a Dog Becomes Man’s Worst Enemy: The Story of A Recovering Gambling Addict
Reading the mind of a compulsive gambler is not as easy as many people would think. Worse comprehending how they just cannot stop their habit of “investing in highly rewarding but risky international investments that matures in less than 20 minutes.”
Gambling which has gained popularity in Zimbabwe of late has glorious as well as bad stories. A day spent in a betting shop is both eye opening and demoralizing especially in Zimbabwe where many people have fallen into the terrain not by choice but circumstances.
It is difficult for people to comprehend how a person just cannot stop, especially when they can see the damage it is doing to them financially, emotionally and in almost every other aspect of their lives.
These are the words of Taurai Chingozho (not his real name) who struggled with gambling to the extend of addiction.
For centuries, dogs have been known as a man’s best friend but this cannot be said of Chingozho, whose passion for betting on greyhounds came back to bite him.
“My gambling, just like any other compulsive gambler, began with a few bets of the weekend and sometimes midweek when I would knock off early from work just to place that bet on a dog. It started with very small sums of money but as time passed, the frequency of the bets became higher with the amounts and that’s how the addiction started,” lamented Chingozho as he switched from one television channel which specializes on betting.
But what is it about betting that punters cannot turn away from?
“There is that lure of the dream world. That one bet can transform your life from having nothing to having everything you have ever dreamt of. You also have the buzz and the adrenaline rush you get from each bet.
“Having placed your bet and seeing your dog cross the line first is a thrilling experience. It is that craving which makes the bets become more frequent. Gone are the days when people used to wait till Saturday to place bets. It has gotten to a stage where bets are placed every day to keep the buzz going,” noted the father of two.
“Gambling has a way of sucking you in. In the beginning, it is fun, it’s a pastime. There are a lot of wins in the early stages that make gambling almost appear easy. It is these wins and the thought of more wins to come that kept me going, even throughout my darkest days in bookies, ”Chingozho explained.
However, the harder he tried to let go of betting, the more he got attracted to it in the process becoming a core of his life that even after losing money, he would still want to go on and on.
It was not long though before the ripple effects caught up with him.
“I would often get into my car and scream at the top of my voice, punch the steering and cry, swear never to do it again.
“By the time I would get home, I would be seeking out ways, in my head, to win back my money. Who would I call to borrow money from? What cover-up lie would I have to tell as to not get caught? I started to come up with jokes to cover up that all was well, I would then look at the list of people that I already owed money, I would try to come up with ways of asking from them again,” Chingozho says as he glares at a blank space, as if to reminisce on the past.
But how has he managed to get away from the addiction?
Chingozho explains, “The simplest method is to stop following any live or delayed racing events. Do these for a while until you feel a bit stronger about yourself and the urge to gamble isn’t there anymore.
“Personal counseling is another route you could explore. Often, people gamble to escape other problems that are going on in their lives
“Gambling had me ruined. At the time I was convinced that I gambled for money. That I was greedy. That money was going to be the answer to all of my problems. A nice house, a nice car, these were the things that were going to make me happy again.
“Over those five weeks of treatment, I was brought on a massive journey of self-discovery. You see, I was never really taught how to express negative,” Chingozho added.
He revealed that there are several anonymous gambling meetings taking place throughout the country every day for compulsive gamblers who want to stop.
“It is a great place to find the comfort of knowing that you are not alone,” he said.
Gambling in Zimbabwe has risen due to the already high unemployment rate, estimated at more than 87 percent, increased in the past year when hundreds of companies shut down.
Job seekers on foot in the scorching heat are turned away. Railroad tracks once used by trains to ferry in raw materials and supplies are now overgrown with weeds and can sometimes be used by commercial sex workers to have a quicky with their customers.