I remember the first time I ever gambled I was 18 years old. I had put in $20 and pulled out $60. If only I knew that $40 win would follow me for a further 21 years, and cause years of heartache for not just me but my family and friends also I would never have played. I am 39 years old and still trying to overcome my addiction which gets harder with each year that passes. By the time I was in my early 20’s I had no credit worthiness and use to blow my fortnightly pay, sometimes the same day I was paid and others a few days after. This once went on for 24 months straight. I have always had a good head on my shoulders aside from this and always managed to remain positive no matter how down I would get after my loses. I would always pull myself out of self pity and try again. This would last until I was paid the following fortnight. Back in those days there were only card machines in the pubs and I remember going up to Queensland to visit family and going to Tweed heads (Twin Towns I think it was called) and seeing poker machines for the first time. I remember coming back home and wishing we had poker machines in NSW. I eventually got my wish but there was no happiness to be found on that star. By the time I was 24 I was in share accommodation and could not pay rent and ended up having to move into a homeless shelter in Sydney. I again pulled myself out of the mess I created within 1 month and luckily have never ended up there again. However I have never had any savings except once. As I have always wanted to travel I had saved up $2500 for an around the world trip which had taken me about 3 months to save. I ended up blowing this in 1 night and have never been on that trip over 15 years ago. Almost everything I have ever bought that could be carried has ended up in hock shops. To this day that continues. Despite this I have got better over the years with such things as paying bills and rent and making sure I have food in the kitchen to eat. I have also managed to maintain a good credit rating now since my credit defaults were originally cleared a number of years ago. My friends have called me a functioning gamblaholic for this reason. By the time I was 35 I had held numerous jobs only ever paying $35K and managed to land a salary triple that which I have held for 4 years now. I thought I was finally on top and would be debt free. Why would I now need to gamble? But money has nothing to do with it. It is not even out of enjoyment any longer and is simply about the “fix”. The fix that lasts only for a few good hours (if you are “lucky”) but has lasting effects financially and emotionally for weeks. Even after big wins I have lost the lot within a few days and then sat there depressed wondering how I, again after all these years continue to let it happen and follow the same inability to learn from my mistakes no matter what it is costing me as a human being. I recently paid $4000 off one of many a credit cards (all at there limits!) and feeling very good for it. Yesterday I withdrew $3000 cash and put it all back in a machine over the course of a few hours. My friends and family have tried to help over the years and have helplessly witnessed my destruction with the pokies but have now just grown accustom to the fact I am a gambler. The pain I have inflicted on them over the years is extremely regretful. The anxiety and depression has worsened as time has gone on and now it is much harder to feel that “can do” positive mentality I once got very easily to get up and start again with a will to succeed and quit pokies forever. This is the first time I have ever written and shared in this way and it saddens me as I type and think about what this addiction has cost me over many years, but I hope by writing this that someone who may not yet have a serious addiction can see how this like any addiction can grab hold of you tight and never let you go, and once that happens there is no way to get back the years you have lost and experiences of life you have missed out on. I have been to GA on 3 separate occasions over the years and only ever lasted a few weeks and left believing I can conquer this on my own. I realise now that was a mistake so if you have a problem and are considering going make sure you stay until you feel you truly have the addiction under control. For me I just pray that one day soon I can have a life pokie free and finally be HAPPY.
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