Turning Point

Many describe a turning point in their recovery journey. This is where they decide they have to stop gambling. Stigma and discrimination mean that people become addicted. It means they often reach breaking point before they stop. This is once they experience a great deal of harm.


Some people have a moment of insight. This could be the realisation that they are experiencing addiction. Many people have described how much of an impact gambling has on their mental and physical health. The decide they have to stop before the harm gets worse.

I can’t remember whether it was Betfair, I just Googled it but there was 10 questions that you basically self-test. If you answer honestly, if you answer yes or no, whatever it was to each of these questions, you have a gambling problem and every one of them answering them honestly, yeah that was me.

I was quite horrified. I was like, I’ve always felt I’m honest to myself and I knew these, I couldn’t deny it to myself but to see it laid out in black and white that I’ve done this, I’ve done that, “Have you been secretive or have you lied about finances? Have you bet down your last 20 pence,” that kind of thing. It was all the classic patterns of a problem gambler. I self-excluded. I absolutely just in that moment decided for the sake of the relationship, for the sake of me, just to get this monkey off my back of gambling that I used to enjoy, but it just became a grind and a chore and just consuming me. Probably affected my health. I didn’t have any health issues per se, but it must have affected my sleep and my stress levels and how I behaved. It just spiralled out of control.


The very last race which was at Ripon, I put £800 on a horse that won at 11/4. so I won the £3,000 back, went home, and worked out what happened during the day and I’d actually won one pound. I thought that “This is absolutely pathetic, this is the nearest thing to insanity,” but it didn’t stop me. Some few weeks later, it was the weekend of May the 11th 2008. I drew some money out to go for a drink with my brother, went in the betting shop, and lost all the money that I had drawn out to go for a drink. After that, it was a procession backwards and forwards to the hole in the wall. I was just using different credit cards to draw out the maximum that I could.

When I came out to the betting shop that Thursday evening, I had lost around about £3,000. Did exactly the same again on that Friday, but I think it was even more, I think it was in the region of about £4,500. Went home and kicked the front door open. I was like a bear with a sore head. My partner she knew that something was wrong and basically, she urged me to do something about it. Saturday came and I went back to the betting shop and probably lost another £1,500. I thought, “I’m going to have to do something, this is absolute insanity that I’m going to–” I had £40 left, and on the Sunday afternoon, Sunday, the 11th of May I put £20 each way on a horse in the French 2000 Guineas.

To this day, I always say if that horse would have won, I would have never had gone to Gamblers Anonymous the day after. It didn’t win so I went to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting on the 12th of May. Basically, the meeting occurred upstairs, I went with another guy downstairs, and he asked me the 20 questions in the orange book of which I answered yes to 18 of them. The only two that I answered no to was had I ever committed a crime to finance gambling. The honest answer to that was, “No, I’d thought about it, but never ever done it.” The other one was had I ever contemplated suicide and I had never ever contemplated suicide.

David #2

Well, it was the 5th of June. Went to the bookie, finished work at three o’clock in the afternoon, Sunday afternoon, had £30 on me in cash went to the bookies and I lost it. I just thought, “Why do I keep doing this to myself? It’s like a vicious circle.”. I was like a boxer on the ropes. I want to stop, and I just couldn’t see a way out, said, “I’ve got to stop this or I’m going to do myself some permanent damage.” I’d had enough that day. I’d never gone a week without betting in my life because it had always been in my life.  I thought “I need some help here” because I was still struggling.


Another important motivator is the people close to them.

Some recognise the harm that is being done to their relationships and to those around them. This is often parents, partners, or children. Some feel worried about losing loved ones. Others worry about the impact gambling may have on their children.

When I stopped, I remember I was sat in the car. That’s the other thing I did. I would some days pretend I was in work when actually it was a day off and I’d go out in the car, and I’d just be sat in the car gambling. I think it got to a point in the car, it was on the day that I gave up, and I was in the car, and I was just in floods of tears because I kind of knew I was getting to a point where I can’t come back from this. It was kind of like I’m this much in debt that I’m struggling now to deal with this daily. I’m struggling to manage it and put an appearance up. And I just stayed in the car, and I thought about my kids and just completely stopped at that point. I don’t know what the trigger was – my lad maybe finding out. But it was the thought of losing everything that kind of made me stop and not go back to it because to have that chance to come back and be with my family after what I’d done. I felt shame about it. I felt absolute shame. I mean, what I could have with £30,000. I could have took the kids on holiday. I could have bought stuff, you know. It was. It was the thought of all that money that I had just wasted on me, if that makes sense. Even though it is an addiction, and I don’t think people find it difficult to understand it. It was just the thought so when I stopped, I thought I am never going back to it because it made me cringe.


I got to a point my youngest daughter said, we’re not doing anything today, or something like that and it hit me. I was like, why am I trying to win-back, claw-back, £50, £100 now? Because my credit has gone now and it’s affecting my child’s life. Not what she knew affecting her, the fact that she wasn’t having fun with her dad. Then I wanted to stop there.

And it’s so much more sophisticated now, which is so scary and I think having two young kids. That’s something that really motivates me to stay, to stay abstinent now is for them to have never known me as a gambler. That’s what I want more than anything is for them to, they’re still young enough that they would never know that I’ve done what I’ve done and I don’t want them to know.

Others have described how people around them encouraged them to access treatment or support groups. This helped them to stop gambling.

My stepdad had come around, and he was like, “Well, something’s up. It’s obviously not drinking, it’s not drugs, because I know that, I can tell by the way you are, there’s something else. Have you been gambling?” I just went, “Yes, a little bit.” I didn’t say how much, how long, how often or anything and he’s like, “Well, you should go to GA.” That’s when I joined GA, and it was the best thing ever. Literally, it’s been the best thing ever.

Many people describe receiving an ultimatum from partners or family members that has led them to stop gambling. For example, they are told they have to stop gambling otherwise the relationship will end or they need to leave the family home.

I swore there and then that– first of all, admit I’ve got a big problem here, I’ve been living with that. I told her the truth, she asked for more, kept digging like, “Tell me everything.” I had a real heart to heart about it. She basically said, “It has to stop here. It has to stop now or I’m not sticking around.” I swore to her, “Yes, absolutely”. The very next day went about excluding myself from sites and closing accounts and producing the proof to her that I had done that. I think I even at that stage try to keep one account open just in case that I might go back to, but then again there was a further chat, “What about this one?”.

Some people describe the relief they felt when they had been caught gambling.

She just it had out with me like, “What was going on here?”. By that stage, I was so sickened with myself and the gambling and living with this addiction, that it was a relief, that’s all I can say. It was like, “Thank God it’s out in the open now,” because I felt deep shame that I was keeping it from her and I knew deep down this is only going in one direction. This isn’t going to end well for me and I’m jeopardizing this new relationship I’ve got and if I don’t get help where is this going to end?

Then, like I say, just over four weeks ago, I’d done exactly what I’d done the previous time. I’d gone into the savings. My wife obviously knew straight away there was something not right, rung me and just said, “Have you been gambling again?” Which I said, “Yes.” She chucked me out. I was living with my mum and dad for over a week because of it all. I knew after last time I wouldn’t get that chance again. The worst thing probably about it was always the fact having said I would never do it again and if something did, or I had thoughts, gambling again, I would be upfront and honest and say, “Yes, I’ve done it.” Again, it was being caught out. I think that I honestly probably thought I wouldn’t get caught out and I could have carried it on. It’s only now where I’m so pleased that I did get caught out and finally doing something hopefully this time that will never happen again.


For some, losing an important relationship because of gambling made them realise they had to stop.

Before I knew it, I was back playing roulette and stuff like that. I was never as bad as I was years ago. I never lost absolutely everything, but I lost more than I should of. And yeah, it makes it, you’re not a very nice person. It’s hard to explain but inside I know I’m OK, but it’s like you’ve got a malfunctioning brain that just does stuff that you don’t want to do. I don’t think I could have been a very nice person and my girlfriend got fed up and basically finished with me, and that was it. That was the last straw. That was the only thing I cared about in the world. And, yeah, when I lost that, that was it, game over. I decided I’m never doing it again now. And yeah, I’m coming up to the first year and long may it continue.



Most people describe how they reach crisis before they stop. What they consider their ‘rock bottom’. When they look back, they often wish they had been able to stop sooner.

One kind of crisis could be losing a catastrophic amount during a gambling session. Or it could be not having any more money to gamble with. They may have exhausted all avenues to get money.

I knew with the FOBTs I couldn’t win it back so there was a bit of common sense built in with a sort of relief that it was over, to be honest, because it was purgatory feeling, you know, the brutal days of losing five and ten thousand I thought were bad enough, but forty-one thousand in one day was a bit of, a bit of a heavy hit.

So I guess I knew I had a problem for a few years. And the reason I stopped was partly financial because I couldn’t afford to gamble anymore. And a kind of realisation that I, I had to get help. Yeah. But it was stopping was like a real sort of sense of grief because it was, I couldn’t believe that I’d never gamble again. And that was hard, still, is hard to deal with and obviously it is hard for other people to hear, you know that, but its that thing of it was such a big part of my life, for such a long time. The actual, the actual act of trying to stop and stopping was a real sort of sense of loss. Which is very dark, you know?


Being driven to crime to fund their gambling or pay off debts could be the end point. People described stopping after confessing or being arrested. Or receiving a custodial sentence or probation.

In May 2019 I was arrested. I was charged with theft by my employee and went through the whole court process. Ended up getting two-year Probation Service. I was tagged for the first three months of that, and that’s when I started reaching out. I started talking, I spoke to the police officers about my addiction. When I first met my probation officer, I spoke to her about, “I believe I’m in this gambling addiction,” and that’s when I found Gordon Moody. I went online trying to find out how am I going to get this help because I already knew that I’d got two years to get through without doing anything criminal because if I did anything criminal, I was going to jail. There was no other way. I had to find a way of getting through them two years and also trying to get away from gambling, I guess because that was the only thing that was going to send me to jail. Nothing else.


In some cases, people feel like they ‘cannot go any lower’. They feel suicidal. They may try to end their life. They decide they must stop gambling to survive.

Everything was just going badly, but I couldn’t tell anyone that I had a problem. So mentally it was pretty awful, and I just didn’t know what to do with it. My thoughts were like going to some bad places, and one day I decided I drove from the Midlands to the East Coast. I used to take the kids there in the summer holidays. So, it was a place of good memories. I just sat on the beach one day, lovely sunny day in the summer, and I just thought, can I do this? Can I just swim out in the sea and just keep going I couldn’t swim anymore? I think it took about three hours and I decided I could do it. It was a solution. And then I asked myself “do you want to do it?” That was another three-hour conversation with myself but luckily, I decided I didn’t want to do it. And that’s when I sort of thought I’ve got to do something about this. So, I drove back home. The next day, I told my work what I’d been doing, and I uttered the words for the first time “I’ve got a huge gambling problem”.


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