This post is brought to you by Nuffnang.
I’ve been asked to write a post to raise awareness about gambling. About how many people it affects when it becomes a problem. About how difficult it can be to ask for help…
There’s such a stigma that surrounds problem gambling. The same kind of uneasy, shameful silence that stops people from speaking out about other addictions and mental health problems. I guess a big part of it is that feeling that it’s your own stupid fault; that if you were a better person you’d be able to resist temptations and have more control over your own mind.
I really don’t understand people who think like that. When you strip us all down, everyone has something. Whether it’s alcohol or cigarettes or drugs or fast food. Whether it’s periods of anxiety or depression, or generally hating the world. How is it possible to have no faults, no abject personality traits that you have no control over?
When I was very little, my parents owned a TAB- a gambling agency. It was just one part of the multi-faceted business they ran in Paradise. A TAB, fishing tackle, and video hire store, all rolled into one tiny shop on the main street of the town. I spent a lot of time there as a child.
I didn’t get it, until I was older. It was only in retrospect that I understood the handful of men who seemed to be in the TAB every week for hours. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and heard my mum talking about watching people gamble away a week’s wage in a few short, hopeful hours, that I realised how very sad a place it was.
I’ve stayed away from gambling, successfully, for my entire life so far. Maybe because of that early exposure. Maybe just due to being lucky. I have such an addictive personality… I know what it’s like to feel control over something slowly slipping away. Wanting to stop, but not being able to, the promise of a potential reward being far too sweet and far too needed to resist.
Addiction- any addiction- it’s a difficult thing. I know a handful of people who have no addictive tendencies, and I envy them. I comfort myself by thinking that surely they’re all screwed up in other ways instead.
Anyway. The point of this post is to simply raise awareness of gambling and the problem it can be, not only for the person who is gambling but also their family and the people they love. Gambling is like any other activity – it’s best enjoyed when you’re in control of it, not when it’s in control of you.
Less than 10% of people with gambling problems ask for help, mainly because of the shame and stigma attached. Like any stigma- the only way to break it is to talk about it.
The Fight For The Real You 100 Day Challenge encourages people to talk about and take control of their gambling- whether that means stopping altogether is up to you. The fightforyou.com.au website also features 24/7 help advice and support. It doesn’t even have to be forever- just 100 days.
But if habits form in 28 days… then 100 days could be enough to break one.
Free, confidential help and information is available for gamblers and their families, 24/7 through Gambler’s Helpline 1800 858 858 or Gambling Help online.