My addiction started as a young child in the arcades at the seaside. Unbeknown to me this was the start of a horrible gripping illness that took me to some of the darkest places in my life.
I have tried all kinds of gambling, scratch cards, FOBT’s and online to name a few. I managed to hide this destructive behaviour for over 15 years until I was convicted and sent to prison for a crime I committed to fund my addiction.
My family and friends found out in the headlines of the local paper, ‘gambling addict steals £1900’. It was a low point in my life and I found myself homeless, jobless and hopeless when I was released.
Since then I’ve fought everyday against this illness and I speak out in the hope that others don’t follow the same path. I attend the Living Room Cardiff and have help from the Gordon Moody Association.
During this journey I have noticed areas where there are gaps;
Dual diagnosis of mental health and gambling addiction seems to have no specific service. I have struggled with this as with each illness the way you work towards recovery can sometimes be total opposites.
The difference in help offered to males versus females in gambling help services.
I am keen to look to educate younger people starting at school age on the dangers of gambling.
I feel we also need more eduction between all cultures as there is still a strong stigma of shame and embarrassment within some communities.
Gambling appears to be fifty years behind other addictions even though it is just as destructive as being an alcoholic or any other addict. Why do we encourage and normalise gambling? Whether it be celebrity endorsed adverts or online gaming sucking in people both young and old.
We need a change, so if speaking my shame, my sadness and struggles helps just one person then I have achieved more than I had to start.