People want to share their messages for people who may be going through something similar to what they have.
People stress the importance of being aware of when you are starting to experience difficulties, such as spending more money and time gambling. Because gambling is so easy to hide, other people may not notice when you are struggling. People have said that it is only once they accept that they are experiencing difficulties and realise that they do not have to go through it alone, that they are able to start their recovery journey.
Just talk about it and acknowledge it because it’s easy to hide it. It’s really easy to hide it because if you gamble during the night, no one’s going to know. I think it gets to the point where it’s gone too far before you realize that it’s gone too far because it doesn’t affect your body as such. It doesn’t show to other people. You’re still the same person, but you’ve got so much going on in your head when you’re thinking about gambling and knowing that you should stop and then the financial side of things and then how it impacts your family unit at home.
You can talk to people till you’re blue in the face, and until that person acknowledges that they’ve got a gambling problem, anything that you say to them will just go completely over their head. People used to accuse me of having a gambling problem, and I used to say, “I haven’t got a problem.” They said, “Well, pack it in.” I said, “I can pack it in when I want.” They said, “Well, pack it in.” “But I don’t want to.” The sooner people realize that they do have a gambling problem, the sooner that they can do something about it.
Many people emphasise how important it is to tell someone what is happening and ask for help. They know how hard it is, but nobody regretted making that first step. They want to encourage others to speak to someone they trust early on. They want people to know that they are not alone and that there are safe spaces out there, where they can talk about their gambling with other people who will not judge them.
The biggest thing I would say to anyone experiencing it is reach out and get help… It’s scary. It’s daunting because there are so many ways in why you’re using gambling, whether that’s to escape from something, whether it’s blocking out emotions, feelings or whether it’s enjoyable and it just got out of control. Whatever the reason, a life without gambling is better than what you’re doing and facing up to problems and fears. Once you take the gambling away, life becomes more manageable. Life is better after gambling, and it was the best decision I ever did was to reach out and get help.
You do not have to do it on your own. There are different options available that can support you in your recovery. They suggest trying different treatment or support services to find out what works for you. They also advise putting in place all the barriers you can to stop being able to gamble.
I would encourage anybody to access absolutely everything. National Gambling Helpline, counselling, Gamblers Anonymous, make use of all the GamStop, GamBan, all these different self-exclusion things. There’s different things. It’s difficult in person because obviously you know your self-exclusion is only as good as the staff member, you know, and it’s not often – they can’t be expected to remember everybody. But put as many barriers as you can in place. You know, if you speak, speak to people, friends, to family, if you’re comfortable doing that.
Find the best help that suits you. There’s plenty of opportunity to get the help. There’re organizations that will give you one-to-ones on a weekly basis, there’s residential treatment programmes, if you can go into them, all there waiting to help you out. There is life after gambling. There is ways that you can stop gambling, but you’ve got to have it in your heart, and you’ve got to be in the right space at the right time… My life’s so much better now I can seek help. Get the help you deserve because gambling will only ruin you.
People have said you have to allow time for acceptance and healing.
What I would say, was you are not a bad person, you’re just someone that’s unwell. You need to draw a line under everything that’s happened before. You’re never going to get the money back. That money is never going to come back to you. The only thing you can do is try and move on from that.
People highlight that there is hope out there. They know it is hard to stop gambling, but life will change for the better when you do. They want people to know there is life after gambling.
People also provide messages for the public. They want them to know that if someone is experiencing difficulties with their gambling, they are not a “bad person”. Gambling is addictive. No one sets out to become addicted to gambling. It could happen to anyone.
They have said not to believe everything that is written in the media or by the gambling industry, as these messages often create and encourage stigma. They suggest that people look for other sources of information and learn about the warning signs and harms gambling can cause. This will help change their perception of people experiencing gambling difficulties.
Don’t believe all the bad press that you read around gambling. Go and find and do some information and research for yourself. And support and campaign for change around gambling advertisements, gambling structures, gambling routines… I would say you’re probably never more than two steps away from a compulsive gambler and one of those could be in your family, so really educate and look at the signs and symptoms so you could be by doing that, helping somebody else.