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Gamblers’ group offers addicts support
A REFORMED chronic gambler, who once had a £300-a-day habit, has told how he turned his life around with help from a support group which meets in Swindon.
The voluntary worker, who hit rock bottom as he blew thousands on roulette machines in betting shops, described how he was addicted to the “release” of winning. The 42-year-old gambler managed to beat his addiction, but suffered a number of relapses along the way.
He said: “My addiction was so strong it was rendering me with absolutely nothing financially, emotionally or spiritually. “When I first went to the group I was quite sceptical. I didn’t think I could overcome my obsession. “It was so great, I was prepared to do it even though it was killing me. I relapsed several times, but eventually I dug my heels in and found a way out.”
The man spent “every penny” he had on gambling, spending about £300 a day.
“Every day it was roulette machines in the bookmakers. I also bet on horses and dogs, but never football matches, because you would have to wait until the evening,” he said.
“Gambling released chemicals in my body and there was a feel-good factor when I was winning.
“When I lost, there was despair and futility because I knew I could not stop. “It was absolutely horrible. It left me with a whole lot of fear and insecurity.”
The former addict, who did not want to be named, is one of the success stories at the Swindon Gamblers Anonymous group, which meets in Gorse Hill. He broke the cycle by opening up about his problems at the sessions and has not been back to the roulette machines since January 2011.
He said: “I managed to be open about my ups and downs and release some of my problems.
“It gave me more freedom and hope and, even though I slipped up along the way, it just made me more determined to break the cycle.”
The group meets five times a week in Gorse Hill, including a new session on Mondays.
In total, 55 people attend the fellowship, with meetings varying in the numbers attending.
The group practices a 12-step plan to recovery, adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous.
“John”, who also did not want to give his real name, is another reformed gambler who is now an organiser and spokesman for the group.
He said: “We find people have other problems which they bring, such as their partners not supporting them with their addiction, and we have groups with just a few people, which helps to bring them out of their shell.
“We practise the 12 steps to recovery, which start with facing up to the fact you are a compulsive gambler and your life has become unimaginable.
“The final step is to carry the message to other compulsive gamblers. Then you repeat the steps.”
For more information and meeting times, contact John on 07828 081189 or check out the website www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk.