In the driver’s seat
Paul is a former client of Anglicare’s Gamblers Help service. He generously shared his story during Gamble Aware Week last month.
When did you realise that gambling was becoming a problem?
I found I was spending all my money and time playing poker machines in venues, sitting by myself. I would gamble during any spare time I had. It was having negative effects on my mental health – and I was wasting all my money. It may as well have gone into the rubbish bin: gambling consumed everything.
How did it affect your personal relationships?
I disengaged from my children and my grandchildren. I was too embarrassed to say why I couldn’t spend time with them or spend money on them.
How did Gamblers Help support you?
My counsellor really listened to my story and I felt that she understood me.
Together we worked on what I wanted to change.
The sessions taught me about why I was gambling and how it affected the people around me.
I learnt how gambling is addictive – as addictive as drugs or alcohol. Right from when we’re children we’re taught that you have to have money to be successful. You have to have money to be happy. When you get the dopamine hit from a win, you’re addicted. The advertising bombards you with false information and you don’t realise how long the odds really are.
How would you describe your life now?
I’m doing really well. I don’t have urges or cravings to gamble any more.
I can go to the pub, have a chat with mates, play a game of pool … I’m just not interested in gambling.
I’ve reconnected with my family, including my grandchildren. I do activities that are rewarding and keep me on the positive path I’m on.
What’s your advice to people who might be able to see themselves in your story?
It’s not easy to reach out for help, but it’s really important that you never give up. Call Anglicare. They’re so understanding and friendly. Don’t be embarrassed – just do it. Your life will be so much better.
I will always remember one of my counsellors saying to me, ‘Paul, I think you’ve been sitting in the passenger seat for a long time in your life now. It’s time to move into the driver’s seat.’
I feel as though I’ve done that now – I am in control.
Some of the content in this story is based on interviews Paul did with 7HO FM and ABC Tasmania’s Drive program during Gamble Aware Week.
If you are concerned about your gambling, or someone else’s gambling, contact Gamblers Help on 1800 243 232. It’s free and confidential and you can stay in the program as long as you need to.