It's strange how certain things are so vivid, much like my first win at the races. it was a three-horse race at Healesville when I was 12 or 13. My dad put on a trifecta for me and the roughie came second. I remember winning $30 and thinking this was amazing. From then I used to go to the races and follow him around, picking up all the tickets, hoping someone dropped a winner.
Fast track a few years, I was 17 with a fake ID and placing little bets myself. Little did I know it would avalanche the way it did. When I was 16, my mum was diagnosed with cancer. I guess gambling was my escape from what was going on. I avoided visiting my mum in hospital as I couldn't handle seeing her sick. She fought cancer for five years with some good news in between chemotherapy but my gambling continued getting worse.
Unfortunately my mum lost her battle with cancer, and gambling felt like the only thing that gave me a little buzz. It started out being $20, then $50, then $100s. At the peak, I racked up a debt of $13,000 within a few months when I finally spoke to my father. He bailed me out, but I didn't deal with the addiction.
It came back and now that I knew he would bail me out, I had a safety net for my bad habit. I was also working at a casino and looked at people coming in everyday and judging them even though I was doing exactly the same thing. I was getting paid on Friday night and by Saturday afternoon it was basically gone.
It was such a controlling and all engulfing addiction. I pushed away friends and family and told no one as I thought the judgement was too much. I went cold turkey for 12 months and was going strong and even went on a trip to Europe. I went to a Monaco casino and put $50 on red, and won.
Little did I know that was all my brain needed to stimulate the addiction again. Fast forward to 13 May 2017: I finally went to rehab. I had enough of the addiction and the thousands of dollars I had lost over my 10-year addiction. It was the hardest thing I've ever done but I have now been clean for three years.
I still have days where I feel disappointed and ashamed, but I am so proud of the progress I have made in the three years since my last bet. If anyone is reading this, and thinking they have had a similar story and struggling with their addiction, please seek help from friends and family. They will not judge you, they want to help you get better. It's a tough journey but you will get there! You are not alone in this!