Northern Rivers man finds way to defeat his gambling demons
A NORTHERN Rivers man battling a gambling addiction has urged others to seek help after finding a way to face his demons.
The 25-year-old retail worker, who requested anonymity, was initially unsure of options available to help him escape his compulsive attraction to poker machines, until he stumbled across Clubs NSW's long-running, multi-venue self-exclusion program.
The program allowed him to effectively ban himself from gambling facilities at all venues in his area.
"I'd been gambling pretty badly since I was about 18," he said. "It was never serious at first. Just $20 with my friends while we were at the pub and I never really won.
"One day I did. I won about $700 and then my bets went from 30c to $1.50. And even that night I spent $200 of that money on the pokies.
"From that point on it ended up with a mate and I going to the pub every payday, putting about $50 in.
"Then I was living basically across the road from a pub a little while later, so it got worse and worse.
"Eventually, I moved to a quiet area in the Northern Rivers, none of my friends were around to distract me, so it was just all going on the pokies.
"I got so sick of it ruling my life I had one last hurrah and excluded myself from the local pub. It was easy, friendly... a staff member sat me in an office, told me what it was all about.
"Then Northern Rivers Gambling Counselling Service made it easy to exclude myself from basically everywhere. I didn't know they offered that service, but it's great."
However, the man noted online gambling has still been easily available, and only willpower had prevented him slipping into old habits.
Thankfully, joining the exclusion program, which included a chat with a Northern Rivers Gambling Counselling Service worker, provided a "kick up the a**e" in that regard.
He noted he had been given a "few CD resources" from the service to help block or avoid online gambling websites, but he felt his resolve was now enough to avoid temptation.
"Just the fact that I've done this feels like a step in the right direction," he said.
"No matter how much I hated the pokies, no matter how much I lost, I found myself back. Now, I can't go back there and I don't think about it.
"I honestly couldn't believe when I saw how much money I had left over after a couple of weeks from not playing the pokies, or the tangible things I bought, instead of a bunch of time wasted and in an angry mood the next day.
"When you're addicted to gambling, you don't trust yourself. There's you, and then there's the problem gambler you. They're two different people, constantly at bloody odds."
Northern Rivers Gambling Counselling Service: 6687 2520,
Self-exclusion: Email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 02 9268 3074 or visit clubsnsw.com.au and search Multi Venue Self Exclusion.
Lifeline: 13 11 14 (24 hours)