If you pick up your local paper, regardless of what state you are in (excepting Western Australia who are Pokie Free and loving it - find out more here) then it would not take long to find a story relating to gambling, pokies and the addiction that negatively impacts 1 in 6 Australians.
Websites like RSLPokies.com and BlowupthePokies.com have been created to highlight the growing issue and raise awareness where the government fails to but still the Newspapers fill with stories.
Stories like those of Jay below.....
Another Victim of the Pokies Speaks Out
WHEN he finally stood back bleary-eyed from the glare of the pokies, Jay had been pumping cash into the machines non-stop for three days and had blown a mind-boggling $40,000.
Just weeks earlier the 32-year-old had made a decision to rid himself of the addiction that was consuming his life and threatening his successful film production business, but getting help proved so hard he gave up.
Jay joined Gamblers Anonymous sessions but without around-the-clock support was back inside the seedy gaming rooms across Sydney within hours after a meeting.
“I was putting about $3500 a night into the pokies and $500 a night on booze and drugs,” he said.
“Where I was living there were 10 places with pokies within a 10km radius, they’re on every street corner. I was completely taken over by this gambling addiction.”
One treatment centre in Sydney’s inner west known for their effective in-house program was so in demand there was a lengthy waiting list.
He was required to call every Tuesday and Thursday to keep his name on the list and missing one meant a slide to the bottom again.
After eight weeks of this he gave up and went on his $40,000 bender.
Jay’s mum told her son of a rehab centre that offered a comprehensive treatment program, but it wasn’t close by or cheap.
The Cabin in the Woods
Unlike the movie of the same name - the Cabin in Chiang Mai is designed to get rid of the nightmares and make life less scary for her occupants...
The Cabin, located in the Thai city of Chiang Mai, is billed as one of Asia’s best addiction treatment centres, but a 28-day stay will set you back $US14,000.
With a stringent 12-step program, The Cabin offers group and individual counselling sessions in five-star surroundings.
The Cabin’s programme director Alistair Mordey, who helped found The Cabin after yeaers working ‘in the broken system’ in the UK, told The Sunday Telegraph that Australians were being let down by a system that placed addiction at the bottom of the list of illnesses to be treated.
“If you’re a person living with addiction in a country like the UK or Australia you’re going to have a mentality where you think the state should provide and if it’s an area of medicine that is a ghetto of medicine if you like, then that means that’s where the longest waiting lists are going to be,” he said.
“They join the waiting list mentality which is worse in some sectors of health than others. Addiction gets pushed to the bottom in most health agendas in most countries to be fair.”
Health authorities also tended to treat addiction as a psychiatric illness or at least an effect of one and that was approaching the issue from the wrong direction, Mr Mordey said.
“The government response to all addictions, whether it’s methamphetamine or gambling or other subsance or process is pretty poor and what they’ve done is traditionally put it under a psychiatric umbrella which hasn’t helped,” he said.
“What we know now is that it’s not a secondary illness that comes out of psychiatric issues, it’s a primary illness so it’s the first appearing illness. In my view it’s the other way around - a lot of psychiatric conditions come out of addiction and Australia has it the wrong way around.”
Mr Mordey said that when a person has both an addiciton and is suffering from depression or serious anxiety, the mental illness often ‘mysteriously’ disappeares when after they get sober or stop doing what it was.
“Could it be that them drinking heavily or gambling all their family’s money away is pissed everyone off around them and they’re depressed as a result of that and when they stop doing it they’re not depressed anymore,” he said.
Since returning to Sydney last month Jay has not been back into a gaming room and is starting to get his business back on track.
“I feel great but I’m taking it one step at a time,” he said.
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