For recovering problem-gambler Joan*, her addiction took her by surprise.
The Melbourne-based former addict had simply accompanied her friend to play the poker machines, which Joan used to think were boring.
But when Joan’s friend suggested she throw $5 in the machine, Joan won $300.
‘‘I thought, ‘oh this is good’,’’ she said.
Within two weeks, Joan had returned to play the poker machines, and this time went away with a large jackpot.
‘‘Those two things were the worst things in the world,’’ she said.
Joan began spiralling into gambling addiction.
‘‘When it becomes an addiction you’re not having any fun any more,’’ she said.
With three gaming venues within just 1km of her home, Joan spent a few years grappling with her demons before seeking help.
‘‘There is help there; the support groups are really good,’’ she said. ‘‘You can’t do it on your own.’’
Joan encouraged those living in Shepparton who were struggling with gambling addiction to attend an upcoming workshop which will be conducted across three weeks and focuses on the friends and family members who are impacted by someone’s gambling.
Run by the Self Help Addiction Resource Centre, gambling program co-ordinator Angela Ireland echoed Joan’s statement and said the sessions would provide helpful strategies and information to bring change.
‘‘Research identifies that working with families is very important because they often stop focusing on their own needs and focus on someone else who they can’t control, thereby heightening their own stress and strain,’’ Ms Ireland said.
‘‘Feeling that you have no control over life events is very stressful. As the life of the family member with the problematic addictive behaviour begins to unravel, it also affects all other family members — even the children — in a ripple effect.’’
She encouraged local families to seek support.
‘‘Reaching out and seeking support is a strength to be admired, or bring along a friend to the session who might need support,’’ she said.
The sessions will be held on November 14, 21 and 28 from 1pm to 3.30pm at Primary Care Connect. To book, phone 1300660068 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Not her real name