A very distressed Sarah wrote to me the other day about her gambling problems. Sarah has had a traumatic few months and now finds she is losing control of her gambling.
I have always liked playing the pokies but it had never really been a big problem. Then 9 months ago I had a still birth. A month later my partner, kids and I moved from west NSW to Sydney.
Now I could gamble without bumping into people who new me and there were 24hr venues. One night I had a good win of $400. A few days later I had another big win of $700- now I thought I could always win.
In the last 2-3 months however I have lost well over $1000. I always manage to hide it, 100 here, 50 there. One day I lost $300, I was so upset and I told my partner I had a problem, but now if he knows I’m at the club he gets angry, so I don’t want to tell him anymore. I just lost $200 yesterday and $160 today. I feel sick. I am scared he will find out. I don’t want to ever gamble again- I feel like such a loser. I think about everything I could have spent that money on. We are doing it tough and I have just made it so much worse. I think about how I could have bought all the kids Christmas presents with that money. Why did I do it?
Sarah, it is important you don’t upset yourself with thoughts that will not help you focus on the changes you want to make.
You have had a tough few months and it is now important that you put attention and energy on what you can do now to create a better future for yourself and your family.
A still birth and moving home is a lot to deal with, they are very big changes to your life. I think you are gambling precisely because you have not addressed losing your child and perhaps that trauma combined with the move is making it hard for you to adjust to a new life in Sydney.
I would really encourage you to talk to a counsellor by calling Gambling Help on 1800 858 858. You can also find free counselling services near you by looking here on the Gambling Help website. http://www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/GamblingHelp/HelpNearYou/Search.aspx
All counselling services are confidential and there are also specialist financial services that can help you sort out your budget and help you manage debts.
I feel that face to face counselling will give you the support that you really need. There is also help available for your partner, so together you can work on beating gambling problems.
In the meantime there are some simple precautionary measures you can take to control your gambling right now.
Leave your ATM and credit cards at home when you go out and only take small amounts of cash with you – what you need for the day.
Perhaps cut up any membership cards so you can’t have access to the venues you normally go to or look at banning yourself from the venues using the self-exclusion process see here for information. http://www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/content/take-action.aspx
A counsellor can also help you with self-exclusion.
Gambling is a tough problem, but in sharing your story I think you have made the decision to stop and so now it is important to get help that can support you make the changes you want to make.