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  November 13, 2011      
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Lesa Densmore

My story begins here ... March 2, 2009

I am Lesa, 38, Wellness Coach and recovering compulsive gambler. My life has been full of successful athleticism. In all my years of competing, nothing compares to the 7-year battle I had for life from my gambling addiction and the sense of accomplishment I have today being in recovery. The flirting began in my teens with bingo and lottery tickets and spending hundreds of dollars a week. By my late twenties, I had a problem gambling with internet poker and spending hundreds of dollars a day at casinos. By age 31, I had a full-blown addiction spending thousands of dollars a week.

Explaining the seven years would take pages. Lying, manipulating, stealing, followed by pain, shame and guilt and I couldn't stop. I was living in NY. My family was in Maine. There are strong stigmas, so I didn't talk about my gambling problem. When I found that gambling was recognized as an addiction, a weight was lifted, but it also gave me an excuse. From the ages 32-35, I was out of control. Food, alcohol and relationship abuse complimented my gambling. I spent hours going to casinos. I had my belongings repossessed, had no home, was lived in a tent, couldn't pay my bills, was writing bad checks and lying my way through it all. The problem was known, but no one knew how bad. Financial, legal, personal issues were building. I disconnected and sunk deeper into the addiction.

In February 2006, I got professional help with counseling and outpatient services. It helped temporarily, but I fell back into full cycle. The fall was bad and no one knew. I spiraled out of control. In January 2009, I had a near suicide, but found strength to pull it together. I called my family and the N.Y. Council again. By this time, I was an expert on the illness and knew it would kill me. I had after all studied it for years while living each phase and progression. It was agreed that residential treatment was needed again. My family pulled together the funds and finally I was going to rehab.

Today, after treating the illness causing the gambling, I am strong in recovery. I can breathe, laugh, hope and help. After rehab, I was asked to go back to implement a Health Management Program and worked with the clinical/executive directors on intervention and business development. My focus now is here in New York state. I am trying to be a face behind the illness, to advocate for the best treatment and funding. I feel compelled to help those who are trying to help us, do the best job they can. I also want to help break down the stigmas. It's not easy, but we are being heard and supported. Life after addiction can be good and it does improve. I am a compulsive gambler, and I am recovery!

My name is Lesa. This is my story. What's Your Story?


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New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
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Find help for alcoholism, drug abuse or problem gambling at 1-877-8-HOPENY

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