I am a much freer person, more confident

Hi, My name is Rita and I am here speaking on behalf of Relationships Australia with the Consumer Voice Program.

I never thought that I would get an addiction from the pokie machines, but I did. I still am an addict, and I always will be, but I don’t gamble. I am just one push of the button away.

At the beginning, I would go with a friend and spend about $20.. those days that would last you for a few hours.

Then when my friend couldn’t come, I would go on my own, no big deal, I may have upped my gambling money to $40 then.

I decided to leave my ex husband for a better life (nothing to do with gambling) and moved into a unit that was across the road from a hotel. Night times were the worst, that was when I felt really lonely and unwanted. So, where could a female go on her own without looking like she is “picking up”.

To the pokies of course! So off I would go about 3 – 4 nights a week and have some fun time, without having to answer to anyone.

Eventually I met my present husband, and moved up to Loxton from Adelaide, a country area, that I love very much. As always, in the country, you have to be there for about 99 years before you become accepted

So while hubby was at work, I would nip to the pokies now and again to relieve the boredom. Of course, not telling him everytime I went.

I then got a job, where we got paid on a Friday, so I would take half my pay and go into the pokies.That was okay wasn’t it??  I had earned the money so it was mine to do what I liked! I was no gambler, I just enjoyed the machines too much (well, so I thought!)

Eventually, I wanted to go more and more, plus I was spending much more too.

The bad news, hubby got retrenched from his job of 43 years with the same company. He got a years salary plus his super. But his ex wife was getting half of that … the arrangements were made for this years and years ago.

Anyway, we still had all this money to ourselves. Hubby bought things that he wanted and gave me money for the pokies, everytime I wanted to go.

It got to the stage where I had to sit at the same machine until the games came up, even if it cost me hundreds of dollars,.. I HAD to see those 3 symbols come up. My heart would pound, I would perspire, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen, just waiting, and waiting. If anyone spoke to me, I hardly heard them as the machine was taking all my attention away.

Then I decided to bet higher and higher, of course with doing that, when I won, I won heaps, but If I lost, I was losing heaps! But I kept going back, time after time after time.

Hubby didn’t mind giving me the money, but then it came to a halt! The money was going down too quick, I still wanted to gamble, and the arguments started. We only argued over money, he didn’t have it, and I needed it to gamble.

It got to the stage, where, I would take his credit card without him knowing and taking out the limit ( $1,000 a day). I could spend that easily, sometimes coming out well on top, but then putting all my winnings back !I would not go home with any winnings..I would put it all back to try and get the BIG one!

This continued for some time.

I would go home in such a bad mood if I had spent a lot of money,and had nothing to show for it! But still kept doing it, promising myself that NEXT time I would go home with my winnings. But of course I never did. I was ADDICTED!

I would often ask hubby to come to the pokies with me and let me have $100, he would um and ah and tell me that he was NOT going to give me anymore than that $100. Of course I agreed, knowing that I would get more out of him during the night. It usually worked if I put the guilt trip on him, saying that I had no one to go and have a coffee with etc etc.

I would hold garage sales to get extra money, and I went to Adelaide to sell some of my rings.. just for gambling! I would sell things on ebay that I no longer wanted, to get extra money… but it was never enough!

I would get an advance from Centrelink, so I had a nice bulk lot of money to gamble with, but then had to wait 12 months more before I could get another one.

Until…. I had to take the credit card to get something and hubby made me promise (again) not to gamble, as we couldn’t afford it. I told him, that, of course, I wouldn’t do it, as I knew we couldn’t afford it and had a damn high credit card bill, plus a small mortgage!

So, when I went to get the 4th lot of $200 out of his credit card, at the hotel.. I looked up and saw the gambling sign on the ATM. I put that number in my phone, and went out to the car and dialled it. I had had enough, I HAD to quit, plus I WANTED to quit!

They put me onto Relationships Australia, where I could get help for my addiction. I can’t praise them up enough. The councillor I am seeing is fantastic, and lets me get all the frustration out, and stops the guilt feelings.

She then asked me if I would like to go into the Statewide Gambling Therapy programme at Flinders Hospital, which I jumped at, anything to cure this horrible addiction. I went in on the 18th January, for 2 weeks while I was councelled and had tasks to do, and I haven’t looked back. I no longer have the addiction sitting on my shoulder telling me to go and gamble! I then went on to do a course in Adelaide through Relationships Australia, to get my certificate IV in Consumer Voice Training, that has led me here today..

I am a much freer person, more confident and not so depressed and not suicidal anymore. I have a brand new life.. Still have a huge bill to pay off, but we will get there eventually. My savings account actually has money in it now. Before I would withdraw it as soon as it reached $100. Now I don’t want to touch it, I want to see it grow and grow, and eventually we can go on a holiday with it.

My husband has stuck by me all this time, which has helped me a lot more than I can say.

To put it in a nutshell, it was like I had one foot inside a long black tunnel, but every step I took forwrd, it got lighter… I would look behind me and see all the pokie machines in the darkness, but in front of me was a huge light. As I got towawrds that light it became so bright, I had to shield my eyes… I got to the end of it .. I looked behind me at the poker machines again,  in that darkness, at my old life , and then I looked at the light where it felt warm and so good. I stepped through that light and that is where I am now.

If I can help just ONE person, then it has all been worth it.

I now have a life worth living.

I hope I can help you make YOURS worth living too.

Thankyou for listening.

Chase your dreams, not your losses
The Statewide Gambling Therapy Service is provided by the Southern Adelaide Local Network, and is funded through SA Health
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