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“My Dad would gamble anything and everything and I remember searching the bookies as a child to try and find him. He died at 43 still chasing the elusive dream.”

JULIE P.

To keep positive when everything around you is falling apart takes a very special person. Growing up in the 1960s with an alcoholic mother and father, who was also an excessive gambler, has taught Julie from Cardiff that life is not about blame but of survival. Julie will be speaking as part of ‘When Luck Runs Out’, the 1st Welsh national conference on excessive gambling. The half-day conference, will be held at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay on the morning of Wednesday June 24th 2015.

Julie, who is an acclaimed performance poet, is currently working on her memoirs which, when published, will be dedicated to any child who has lived under the roof of addiction.

Julie, said, “My early years were chaotic, being passed from pillar to post. My charismatic, but violent, father had been in prison. While my mother loved him no matter what, her own addiction issues made family life very difficult. However, despite the trauma there were even some good times such as a family holiday in Newgale in 1970 thanks to Dad winning some money on the horses.

“My mother was sectioned many times during my life and family members would help out, but this would be short-lived. When I became older, I took more and more responsibility for all my siblings when my mother was sections and became in many ways their mother and father. I had no shame but I was desperate. I was the sensible child. Nobody showed me love, but I showed them love. While I was fearless on the outside, inside I was terrified.

“Despite all I have gone through I still believe addicts are not bad people, but people who find themselves down the wrong route. They end up engaging in negative behaviour as a result of taking this path. My Dad would gamble anything and everything and I remember searching the bookies as a child to try and find him. He died at 43 still chasing the elusive dream. Despite all my mother’s problems I always assumed we’d go back to her one day. We never did.

“When you are a child of an addict, you don’t know you exist. I had my own breakdown much later in life. I had obviously been bottling up my feelings all that time. I have come through it and now I live for me. It’s not easy, but I have found that walking as a hobby has kept me sane. I have even turned my passion for words into my vocation as a walking poet.”

 

 
       
 

“When I lost money, all I thought about was getting it back. I would take out loans, borrow from the family and fellow gamblers in the casino…..I did fall back on the mortgage payments on our family home. We finally lost it in 1999.”

Haroon A.

Although he did not want to admit it, Haroon, from Cardiff, was always aware he had a gambling problem. However, having lost close to £600,000 over the last ten years on black jack and now living in a YMCA hostel, he is ready to face up to his gambling addiction.

He was referred by his local hospital to the Living Room Cardiff for counselling and although it has only been four weeks he hasn’t gambled during this time.

Haroon, 45, said, “I have gambled for as long as I can remember. At the age of 10 I was gambling my pocket money. My grandmother liked a flutter on the horses but my mother was a compulsive gambler as was my brother. They both managed to conquer their addictions, but I didn’t despite their pleading. I didn’t start as a major gambler but it gradually crept up on me. I remember having a big win and thinking that I had found the way to break the system. Since then I have been unable to stop. There were times when I would spend 2 -3 days solid in a casino unaware that days had passed.

“I would never think about what I was gambling. When I lost money, all I thought about was getting it back. I would take out loans, borrow from the family and fellow gamblers in the casino. Somehow I always managed to cover the payment of small bills but I did fall behind on the mortgage payments on our family home. We finally lost it in 1999.

“We moved to a rented house and it almost felt like a fresh start. I stopped gambling for a while but I soon got a new job and more money started coming in. I then set up my own telecommunications business which became very successful. However, after 18 months I began gambling again, losing more money than ever before. I eventually lost the business too as I couldn’t afford the rent for the shop.

“The gambling had a huge impact on my family and I did some very bad things to get money for my addiction. My wife was always upset and I couldn’t get the money when it was needed to buy things for the children. They all knew there was a problem, but they thought I was un-helpable and un-repairable. I even pawned my wife’s gold when she was in hospital. We are now estranged but she is joining me at the Living Room Cardiff counselling sessions which are incredibly supportive.

“I had to hit rock bottom to be able to climb back. You don’t learn any lesson when things are mediocre. I have a good feeling about the Living Room Cardiff and the environment and 1-2-1 sessions suit me well. I’ve always been an optimist and I hope this time I can beat my gambling addiction for good.”

 
 
     
 

 

 

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