AO Recovery

Rebuilding yourself and connecting with others

Most people’s recovery journey does not end once they have stopped gambling. They have described what comes next and the processes involved in rebuilding themselves. People try to understand and come to terms with what has happened. They reconnect with other people. They start to regain their self-worth and hope for the future.

After stopping gambling, many people try to process what they have been through. They may do this themselves through self-reflection, or through counselling, meditation or support networks. They may want to understand their own life issues that contributed to their gambling. Many have described having to deal with feeling anger towards gambling companies. They feel exploited. People may need to work through their feelings of guilt and shame.

It’s hard because, you know, you’re constantly reflecting on what you’ve done. Which so, is like trying to, I guess the counselling is helping me at the moment try, to try and to move on from that. Moving forward rather than just thinking, Oh God, I can’t believe I did this and that, and what I could have had. You know, the amount of time that I’ve spent gambling is ridiculous. You know, that was, let alone the money that I’ve lost, the amount of time that’ve spent, the amount of lies that I’ve said, and you know.

I personally, I take a huge amount of responsibility for everything I did and for everything that I have done with gambling. But I can’t help but feel incredibly angry towards the bookmakers as well and the way they operate, knowing what I know now of how they operate and how they treat people like me.Their business model isn’t on what they advertise, isn’t on the sort of mates, down the pub having a friendly bet. Their business model is on converting those people into addicts and getting the most money out of them that they can because you see how they treat you once you’re gone. They don’t care, as soon as you’re out the door, as soon as you’ve self-excluded, they just move on to the next person. And I just, yeah, I have so many, so many moral issues with the way they behave looking back now.


Some people describe how they start to feel self-worth again. They feel confident and more comfortable when speaking out about their experiences. They feel as if they can access support if needed. People have said they feel happier and go out more. They get back to doing things they enjoy. They may find new hobbies and activities that they like. They feel as if they are ‘living their life’. Often, people have described ‘seeing a future’ for themselves. They feel as if they have things to look forward to. These emotions are lost when they are gambling.

And it has taken me a lot, a long time, really, I think, to understand. And I am still processing why everything that happened, happened. And you know why I’ve sort of allowed that, you know, what seems to be a simple, playful game to completely annihilate me. Every, you know, every part, every substance of me. What I have tried to regain is my self-worth, my integrity. I’m not, I’m not an unintelligent person. But I can’t I haven’t really got the words how to describe what this game, how this game left me. It was just, I was just on the floor, completely.


I’ve started to do things for me now, whereas I wouldn’t go out or do anything, and the last couple of weekends, I’ve gone for a night out by myself, which is really sad, but I have. I’ve sat there and there’ve been the slot machines there and I looked over and went, “No, thanks” and carried on with my night, whereas before I’d be like, “I’ll get some change and go and stand there for a little while”. My son said to me on Sunday, he’s like, “I’m so glad just to see you happy and living your life again” and I was like, “Thanks”.

I have got my life back. You know and there is hope, there is hope. I never thought I’d run a business again. I didn’t want to. I never thought I’d get married again. I never thought I’d see my kids again. I never thought I’d be credit worthy. I never thought anybody would trust with me with money. And we’re a cash business because we’re so small that we’ve only just the week before got a card machine. We don’t take lumps of money in the business, but so I never thought those things were possible. But, you know, there is hope out there.

I can only say and reiterate what I said earlier that, when you do stop, albeit it’s only early days. It makes you appreciate everything so much more, around you. It’s ridiculous but just to go to bed at night with a clear head knowing that I’m not worrying about things. It’s the norm but at the same time, it feels great.

People have said an important part of their recovery is connecting with other people again. This could be rebuilding relationships that are damaged during their gambling. They may focus on spending time with their family. It could also be establishing new connections. This is often within a community of people who have the experience of being harmed by gambling.

On a Sunday, we do always go out as a family, another family day, which we should do more. Even last week on my day off, me and my wife just went out. It was just so nice that just the two of us going out talking and just being normal, which you think it’s not difficult to do that but we’ve not been doing it enough. We both said after we went out, “How nice was that?” Because you’re not on your phone. We were just talking. Like I say, when she’s asking me about the gambling, I’m not uncomfortable about it because I think, “Well, everything now is finally out in the open. There’s nothing that’s going to perhaps catch me out, or I’ve got something else to tell you.” It’s nice that my head’s clear from it and I can hopefully start focusing on the good things just like going out together or going for a walk.

On Sunday, we went and just had a game of crazy golf, just things that you think, yes, you’re doing that, you’re enjoying it, you’re having a laugh, and that there’s nothing else to stop you having a good time. Whereas in the past, if you were doing that I might be, “Oh, I’ll just check my phone because that football game is kicking off in a bit, or let’s see where we’re up to on that.” You’re coming home. It’s almost like you’ve come home, you’ve had a good day and it’s a relief to sit down thinking. Yes, no, “Oh, I need to check that,” and it feels good It feels weird to think there’s nothing on my only mind.”


I’m a big football fan. I’m a big Tottenham fan as well. I couldn’t go to any games. I’d watch it in the pub and things like that, but now I go to every home game. As much as I can do, work-related kind of thing. It’s given me a new lease of life. I can watch the game for football just for enjoyment. Without having a bet on it, just watch the game for being the sport it is, instead of worrying about everything else.

Now I’m in a tiny little bubble of me. I can genuinely say I haven’t got a real-world friend, not one. I’ve got hundreds on Twitter, some of whom are genuinely close friends, but in the real-world sense, the only people I have social interaction with are my three children, my granddaughter, and anyone I might sit next to in the bus or meet at the queue in Asda or people like yourself who I meet for what I see as medical lifestyle reasons. Having said all of that, for reasons most of which I understand, but some of which are a mystery to me, I can deal with it all. I don’t have any crutches at all. Considering what I’ve been through and how many people I’ve hurt, which is a lot of people, life couldn’t be too much better than what it is at the moment. It’s extremely simple, but it couldn’t be too much better. When I talked, I’ve not made any secret online. My only imprint online is on Twitter. I don’t do Facebook or anything else. I’ve never made any secret about my background and as a result of which some people have reached out to me who’ve gone through similar things.

Steve #2

It’s about meeting new people. If I’ve got anything in common with them, can they give me something for my recovery, because I’m not going to like everybody that I see, but the people that I engage with and everything like that, I do like to become close to and they’re close to me, but we need to do that all the time. As long as we’re building, as long as we’re still learning about ourselves, then we’re still moving forward, and that’s what I want to do every day. Every day I want to move one step forward.

There are practical elements that people must deal with. This could be rebuilding their credit scores or moving to a job that is less stressful.

At the moment, life, I’d say days are okay. I keep myself in a little bubble, I focus on what I need to do in terms of becoming debt free, all the legacy elements of gambling harm, I think I am in that sort of stage recovery of 18 months now, where sorting out my credit score, and debt and focusing on a career for the future.

People are still aware that they could relapse and get into difficulties with gambling again. Some have described how the urges are still there. Something could trigger them to want to gamble at any moment. However, they remain resolute that they will continue on their recovery journey.

I’ve set up my own Gamblers Anonymous group within my local area. And since then, I don’t feel I can never say I would never gamble again, because that would be me getting complacent with my gambling addiction, which is something I can never be at a stage because I know if I make that first bet ever again that I won’t come back from it. So, I’m very sort of resolute in that I can’t ever gamble again. Part of my brain make up may make me think that I can gamble again. So, I’ve always got to be aware and on guard of that ongoing possibility that that could trigger. So, I regularly attend Gamblers Anonymous to keep myself, keep myself aware of where I once was, and obviously it’s nice to hear other people’s stories as well to remind me of where I once was and how far I have come over the past three and a half years, really.


A lot of people want to use their own experiences to help others. They are passionate about being able to give something back. For example, volunteering, training to be counsellors, setting up their own local Gamblers Anonymous groups, or campaigning for change.

And by sort of telling my story, that’s kind of why I do what I do because I want other people to go, well, hang on a minute, this is just an average bloke. That’s all it is, and he had it his entire life this gambling addiction. 27 years I were gambling, like I say I were 40 when I stopped. I gambled from 13. And yet here I am again, without complacency. You know, I’m only ever one bet away from it all falling flat on my face. But I hope that I’m now stronger in my recovery because of all these things that we’ve spoken about and the network that I’ve built up and the friends and support groups that I’ve picked up, particularly through online communities as well. I’d like to think that I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my recovery, and that will continue, and hopefully other people can see that in me and in the other that have helped me with, and hopefully that I could be now somebody else’s support and inspiration which sounds like a backwards thing to say. I don’t want to consider myself an inspiration but in terms of that proof that it can be done, really.


Get Support

If you feel like you need support or someone to talk to about your own or someone else’s gambling, there are several organisations who can offer help, support and answer any questions you may have.

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