I'm an ex-gambling addict – I lost hundreds of thousands of pounds and I thought might might die | The Sun

WAITING nervously for the clock to tick past midnight, Stacey Goodwin needs just one more minute to pass so she can get her latest gambling fix.

As soon as her salary hits her bank account she transfers it into her online gambling account and starts on the slot machines.

Flash back to 2011, and the 18-year-old had just taken her first job in a bookies to earn some part-time cash.

Surrounded by people betting their money, she decided to have a go on a slot machine one day, and from then on was "hooked".

Stacey spent the next eight years battling her gambling addiction, losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, friends and partners and jobs in the process.

The gambling started in bookies, but as Stacey's addiction grew, she turned to online gambling.

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It became too much in 2017, when she lost £50,000 and tried to take her own life twice.

It was because she had reached a point of "absolute despair", Stacey said was prepared to end her own life.

"I had zero hope that anything would get any better.

"Gambling was all I had known, so I honestly didn't think there was a life outside of it.

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"But there was also shame, unbearable shame.

"I was hurting other people and I genuinely thought they would be better off without me.

"The hardest part was that nobody knew. It upsets them to know how I masked it.

"That’s the scary thing – that I laid in that bath not expecting to get out and nobody had any idea.”

"My friend sent me texts the other day that I sent during my addiction and she was crying, she didn’t know how bad it was."

After her two suicide attempts, Stacey said she reached a point where she would either "go to prison, or go to rehab," and decided to get help.

She added: "Luckily for me I found Gordon Moody, the gambling addiction charity, and went onto their retreat programme.

"There was a room full of other women and I felt relieved that this was the first time I had seen people who had been through the same.

"And there were people who could understand.”

Now Stacey, 29, and living in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, is three years clear of her addiction and working as an associate for charity The EPIC Restart Foundation.

She has helped over 1,000 women struggling with their gambling addictions through social media by talking through their issues.

She also published a book: 'The Girl Gambler: A young woman's story of her escape from gambling addiction' last April on her battle with gambling addiction, which has five star ratings on Amazon.

Despite her life turnaround, Stacey said still struggled to feel proud of herself.

"I still struggle to feel those things.

"But the thing I’m most proud of is showing others there’s hope.

"I think that’s what I needed more than anything in the world was hope.

"I remember thinking to myself, 'why did I go through all this?' and I genuinely believe it’s because it’s now people can say to me, 'I have a problem with gambling' and know that there’s help out there.”

Stacey's story comes ahead of new rules, which come in in September, to help protect those with addictions.

Gambling firms will have to follow guidance, from the Gambling Commission, that helps them spot customers who may be struggling.

The rules include flagging when someone shows signs of addiction, and preventing from marketing at people who may be at risk.

Analysis released earlier this year by GambleAware revealed almost 40% of women experiencing high levels of gambling harm may not seek out help due to stigma or shame.

It came alongside data showing one million women in Great Britain were at risk of gambling harms.

In response to the statistics, the charity launched a harms prevention campaign specifically aimed at women to shed light on the critical warning signs for them and show them where to get support.

And government ministers look set to publish a review of the 17-year-old gambling legislation due to concerns over the surge in popularity of online gambling, The Times reports.

The curbs will include maximum stakes of between £2 and £5 for online casinos and a ban on free bets and VIP packages for those who suffer heavy losses.

What should you do if someone you know has a gambling problem?

There are a number of steps you can take if you believe someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction.

Be Gamble Aware's website suggests a number of steps you can take to help someone who might need help.

Some of the steps include: understanding what an addict is going through, knowing how to talk to someone with a gambling addiction, and avoiding rewarding gambling behaviour.

If you personally are struggling with an addiction, the NHS has a useful webpage which offers a range of helpful tips.

Some include trying cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a talking therapy that can help change the way you think and behave.

There are also treatment and support groups available for people wanting to stop gambling.

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GamCare offers free information, support and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK.

It runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and also offers face-to-face counselling.

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