Central Iowa Gambling Treatment Program  

Central Iowa Gambling Treatment Program's approach to addictions treatment is comprehensive. We concentrate on understanding each client's special needs and providing guidance needed to return clients to healthier lives.


CIGTP Home Page
Patient Therapy
Concerned Others
Client Rights
Gambling Studies
Helpful Links



My Story

                I was a good kid.  I started out as a Boy Scout, church member, and decent member of the community.  I always liked games and I liked to win…   Like most kids in my generation, I was very competitive.  Whether it was in sports, class, or just playing with family or classmates I liked to win.  Winning validated me and gave me a sense of superiority.   When I couldn’t win honestly, I cheated.  Then at age 12, I found gambling.  It was a local fair and a community group had a dice game for a quarter a play.  I took to it like a duck to water.

                Growing up and through high school in Iowa, there was not a whole lot of gambling, but when there was. I was right there.  After high school, I joined the army and there was more opportunity.  At first, it was just being competitive, then it grew into something more.  I was an action gambler.  My competitive nature and desire to get something for nothing led me to take greater risks and to seek out games of chance wherever I was. 

                It was my second hitch in the Army that I really started to get into trouble.  I had gone back to college to get my commission.  During my time in school, I started drinking and gambling to excess.  After being commissioned, I was sent to Germany and was in instant heaven.  There were so many opportunities to gamble that I was spending all my free time in the bars and casinos.  Being single and free gave me the freedom to do what I wanted, when I wanted.  Another factor in my gambling career started to affect me.  I was not living up to my incredibly high expectations.

                After getting poor evaluations from my superiors and peers, I resigned my commission and left the army.  I had left a trail of bad checks and hurt feelings along the way.  This led to even less self esteem and gave me more time to gamble, but I still had to make a living.  An offer of employment and a place to live led me back to Germany, where I slipped further into an abyss of self destruction.  The only thing that saved me from complete collapse was the love of an incredible woman.  She slowed my descent into oblivion, but could not stop it.

                I became very good at hiding my gambling from those around me.  I maintained control of the finances and was very “creative” at making extra money at work.  I was also very good at my job.  My competitive side had an added benefit, I was able to adapt to most situations and do well in my work.  But I still was not good enough to meet my own expectations.  Because of my creative business practices, I decided to leave Germany before I was caught.  I told my wife that, because of my language limitations, we really needed to move back to the states so I could get a better job.  It was just another in a long line of lies to my wife.  I had gotten so good at lying to others, that I started to believe my own lies. 

                We moved back to Iowa.  I thought that I could run away from gambling, but the year before we moved back, Iowa had legalized gambling and so I was right back at it.  I knew I had a problem, but I could not stop.  Our finances were getting worse, my marriage was on the rocks, and my job was in trouble.  Then I got fired.  Looking back, I consider myself very fortunate; I could have ended up in jail.  Being the type of person that defines themselves by their job, I was devastated.  I needed help.  I called 1-800-BETSOFF.  In 2000, when I walked into my first Gamblers Anonymous meeting and I knew I was in the right place. 

                It took me two years of “experimenting”, but on April 15, 2002, I finally had had enough.  I had not been able to admit that I was the problem, that my life was unmanageable by me.  I started going to treatment as well as the GA meetings.  I had myself banned from all the different gambling venues to include all the lottery retailers in my area.  I followed the advice of my sponsor and my counselor and my life slowly turned around.  My finances were a mess, my wife didn’t trust me, and I was still in danger of foreclosure on the house, but I stuck with it.  In GA we talk about trudging the happy road to destiny.  It is not skipping or hopping or even running.  It is trudging, but the road is happy and it is worth it.  Almost five years later, my wife and I are on the right road.

                I still owe money on credit cards long gone, and we still have problems from time to time, but I know I am in a better place.  My career is finally back on track, we have gotten caught up on the mortgage, and our marriage has never been better.  I go to two to three meeting per week whether I am in town or traveling.  They are my medicine for this disease.  Whenever I hear the twelve promises in the meeting, I know that they can come true for anyone willing to fully follow the program.  I still think about gambling, but whenever I do, I remember what my life was like before the program.  I remember the sinking feeling of losing all the money that was meant to pay bills.  I realize that I am sick, but that there is medicine to keep my disease in remission and I go to another GA meeting.


Send mail to dhemken@msn.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Last modified: 01/29/08