The experiences of people who overcome their gambling addiction are diverse. Some people require a lot of support from different services and professionals and take many months to recover, while others only need a professional counsellor for a short period. The time and level of support needed for recovery depends on many factors, such as personal circumstances and available support networks.  Regardless of the specific circumstances, seeking support from a professional counsellor can help.

The following personal story shows that help can and will work if a person genuinely wants to address gambling issues in their life:

“I remember the first time I watched a football game on TV; Manchester United was playing. It was like magic, watching the ball get knocked around so quickly and players displaying all these great skills. I was sold. I thought to myself, This is why I love this game”. From that point on, Manchester United was my team: I watched every game live!  There were a few instances earlier when I wagered against my friends. Of course, I always won the bet. I knew my team; Man United barely ever lost a game so it was a guaranteed bragging right for me. The extra money was fun too, but it wasn’t about the money since we didn’t really have much – it was about having the bragging rights of a true fan.

Later on, a couple of friends started to frequent the TABs to place their bets and they would win a lot of money – and I believe lose some too – but they only talked about the wins.  I always wanted to try it, but my mother and I were doing it tough with money and my mother did not like me being out late. A few years later when my friends told me we could bet online, you can imagine my excitement. I did not know about the amount of problems that were waiting for me because of this decision to gamble online. I started betting on the ‘Sport Bet’ app on my iPhone in 2014. I remember the first time I put a bet on a football game. I only had $50, I used all of it and by the time I had watched all the games that night I was $400 up. I thought, “this is easy”. Well later, I realised it was not so easy. I started betting on any game and before I knew it I was betting on any sport I could think of; even things that I knew nothing about, like horse racing.  I started to lose more and more money, then I started borrowing from my friends. My McDonalds pay check could not support my expensive addictions.

I knew I needed to seek help and stop pretending that I was in control of my habits when I realised how much of a toll it was taking on my mother.  The day she caught me taking money out of her bag was the day I knew I needed to change. To watch my strong, single mum crying just made me question myself. I couldn’t believe how much my problem had taken a toll on such a strong woman. This made me wonder, who else is my habit affecting? I started to search on the internet for help and I realised I wasn’t alone. There were many people like me, people who couldn’t control how much they gambled. This was an encouraging step in my current road to recovery.

Right now, although I can’t say my life is back to normal or my relationship with my mother is as strong as it was when we moved to Australia, I can say things are getting a lot better. My counsellor, my mother and my friends are very supportive and I have not gambled for seven months’ straight.

If there was anyone out there suffering from the same problem, I would like to tell them…

Keep going! There is light at the end of the tunnel, but if you want to see that light you need to step out, be honest with yourself – are you really in control? Seek help! I am the perfect example that there is help available and it works! It works if you commit to it.”

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