Renee* was nervous about talking to a gambling counsellor, but it was easier than she expected.
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable about calling a gambling helpline, but that discomfort can stop you from getting the support you need. Caller Renee* shares that it was a relief to talk to a gambling counsellor for the first time.
“I started playing the pokies when my partner left. She took the dog so the house felt empty. There’s not a lot else to do in this town. I ended up down the club most nights. It wasn’t that bad at first but eventually I was spending hours glued to a machine. It felt like pokies were taking over my whole life and I didn’t have anything else.
I saw the Gambler’s Help signs in the toilets. I knew I should probably call but I ignored the thought for ages. I didn’t know what I’d even say to them. I felt like I should be able to handle the problem on my own because I was an adult. I’d always taken care of my own problems before. The idea of talking to a stranger was a bit much.
I don’t know what made me make the call in the end. I lost most of my paycheck in one night, but I’d done that before. I’d just had enough, I guess.
I was so anxious about calling, but when they picked up it was actually fine. The counsellor just listened and didn’t make me feel useless. She seemed just like a normal person, not like a saint herself or anything. We talked about how lonely I’d been feeling. I realised that lots of people struggle like I have.
It’s not like my problems with gambling were cured that night, but it was a start. It was better than suffering on my own.
I started calling more often and eventually, they hooked me up with a face-to-face counselling service. I think I’ll talk to a financial counsellor soon. I’m still gambling sometimes but it’s getting easier to imagine one day I’ll stop for good.”
Take the first step
The first step is often the scariest, but you can do it. If you’d like to talk to someone about getting on top of your gambling, you can chat to us online or call 1800 858 858 — free, 24/7, anywhere in Australia.
*Name changed to protect the caller’s privacy.