My gambling addiction started in 1991, the year pokies came to Victoria. Before then, my husband and I enjoyed a flutter in New South Wales and Tassie, but we were geographically safe at home.
In 1991, I was a hardworking mum with two kids. My husband babysat while I went to the pub to gamble until all hours. It was my time out. That’s when I got hooked. Gambling was all I thought about, morning and night. I started to make excuses and to live a double life. To ease the financial pressure, we downsized our home. We’ve downsized three times.
I tried to stop gambling, but then something would trigger it. Or I’d have a weak moment and that would be it. I’ve lived with shame, guilt and regret for nearly 30 years.
Then, last year, I saw an ad on TV for the 100 Day Challenge and I haven’t gambled since.
The 100 Day Challenge is a program for cutting back on your gambling, or stopping altogether. It has an online forum for gamblers, which is my go-to place 24/7. I log in daily and talk online with others about my progress and how I am feeling. Even though it’s anonymous, you get to know everybody so well. You can bare your soul and you’re not judged.
From the start, I found the forum really helped with my urges to gamble. You’re thinking ‘How can I fight this?’ Then there’s a subtle shift and the urge subsides.
I talk about my hiccups and how many times I’ve fallen off the wagon. But it’s part of recovery. You learn from it, get stronger, put in place strategies, tweak them, whatever you need to do.
The 100 Day Challenge has given me great strategies for giving up gambling, including tips for managing money. My life now has much more purpose. I do volunteer work, babysit, regularly visit my family and gorgeous grandson, and help care for my elderly dad. I bought a pushbike, go to the movies, visit the library, walk my neighbour’s dog and tend my vegie patch.
Probably the most profound part of 100 Days is the sense you get of a fog lifting. Someone said, ‘I can’t remember feeling like this’. It’s hard to put a word to it: I suppose it’s freedom.
I’m now into my third 100 Day Challenge. You just want it to become part of your life.