Reformed gambling addict mum from Wigan shares her story in bid to get others to seek help
A former Wigan mum who bravely went public with her gambling addiction is raising awareness of the support available to addicts.
Kelly Field, formerly from Billinge and now living in Merseyside, began to gamble online when she was off work for an extended period.
While Kelly, 36, was struggling with depression, she says gambling felt like an escape from stress and anxiety, but in reality it made everything worse. But her gambling became so bad she turned to self-harm after worrying about how she would ever escape the addiction.
“At first it seemed harmless, and I didn’t see myself cross the line into addiction – it felt like it wasn’t real” she said.
“But in the first six months I was already £10,000 in debt and I was borrowing more and more money on credit cards to keep gambling. I kept everything a secret for a year, I put on a smile and I hid the credit card bills, but the pressure of debt and lies built up. Eventually I felt so low I wanted to take my own life - I couldn’t see any other way out.”
Kelly went to her GP to ask for help, however the counselling sessions she was initially referred to did not take place.
At this point, Kelly continued to gamble until her partner found the Liverpool-based Beacon Counselling Trust.
“I went through a 12-week treatment programme with Beacon and this helped put me on the right track for recovery. Issues with gambling can be so isolating, you miss out on so much of everything else going on in life.
“I was gambling for around eight hours at a time, sneaking away from my partner to keep going. You get trapped in a cycle, but finding the right support helped me break that cycle.
“I know I’m never going to regain the time that I lost, but I’m looking forward now and I hope that my story can help others, including other women, to avoid similar situations.”
Kelly fully supports the new integrated support services being introduced in Leeds, as well as new NHS support across the North of England.
She said: “It was a real struggle for me to find the courage to speak to my GP about my gambling, and when my initial counselling sessions didn’t take place I just cried and cried. Increasing specialist support is brilliant. We need to raise awareness about the ways gambling can have a negative impact on people, as well as where to find help, so we can stop others going through what I have.”
Kelly also feels it’s important that families and friends who are affected can find the support they need for themselves.
Kelly added: “My partner was a nervous wreck - at the time he didn’t know how to help me and I didn’t know how to get help. Now I want to spread the word about what support is on offer so that others can find the help they need.”
The NHS Northern Gambling Service accepts referrals from health and care professionals as well as members of the public. Contact [email protected]