I stand here staring at a row of slot machines. My heart starts racing, my palms are sweaty, and a feeling of excitement comes over me. Which machine should I choose? Which one is going to be good to me? I sit down at a favorite I’ve played before and put some money in. I press the buttons automatically to place a maximum bet and spin the reels. I do not win a dime but the feeling of excitement stays with me and I know it is only a matter of time before this machine will pay a good amount out. I am not consciously aware of the loss or gain of money, so caught up am I in the thrill of waiting for a good spin. Neither am I aware of how much time has passed. I am not even alert to my surroundings my focus is solely on the machine directly in front of me.
Finally it happens. The reels spin and I get into a bonus round. I get 50 free spins and feel elated. My adrenaline is pumping in anticipation of the big win I will receive. The reels keep spinning automatically, decreasing my number of spins left and increasing my monetary credits. On my 50thspin, the machine starts flashing the words “JACKPOT!!!”, and my heart rate increases as others passing by stop to congratulate me on my big win. I feel like others envy my luck with gambling and I brag about my jackpot win. I feel proud of my accomplishment, like I had something to do with the machine paying out at the time I was playing it. I feel rich and ecstatic.
I am so confident that this machine is lucky that I take my jackpot money and continue to play. Hours pass, my winnings dwindle, and my fanfare wanders away. I do not notice or even feel tired; there is only a sense of desperation to get another bonus so I can experience the rush again. As I look in my purse desperately for more money, I notice the time. I have been at the casino for 10 hours and have nothing to show. I feel sick to my stomach and with a feeling of anxiety and hate for myself I walk away from the machine. Even in my depression over my loss, I can’t help but think if I only had another dollar, I knew I could turn this around and feel euphoric again. Subconsciously, I know this obsession has too much power over me but I push that aside and tell myself if I come back tomorrow, I will have better luck. I am in an endless cycle of loss, but my addiction has taken control and I have no willpower to stop it, nor any desire to acknowledge it as such.
I get home and go to bed next to my fiancé, hating myself for my lies and deceit, yet unable to push the temptation to go back away. I don’t yet realize how much damage my addiction will eventually cause, not only to myself but to everyone that has ever cared about me.
-Jen L. Schneiders