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“I think I had a pretty cool childhood: pretty active, lots of friends. I spent a lot of time skateboarding. When I left school I was involved in quite a big car accident where I was hit by a drunk driver. Took away almost like a year of my life before I could walk again. 

Once I'd sort of recovered I was on my way to a job interview and I was hit by another drunk driver. That crash was nowhere near as bad as the first one. I did get quite a bad head injury but I was sort of in and out-of-hospital quite quickly. 

Around that time was sort of where my gambling became quite bad I think. Because of the accidents and stuff and the depression. It was sort of a really easy way for me to just zone out. Come pay day, you know, you'd finish work, go straight to a money machine. You know, you'd sort of just take out what you could afford to spend at the time, but nine times our ten you'd lose whatever you went in with straight away. And you'd be straight up at the bar getting more money out.

The worst time would have been when I was living with my partner. Going out and playing pokies was sort of like what we did to start with. It was kind of fun. And that went on for quite a while before she was like,

"Hang on, you know, we've got to stop doing this. It's quite a problem."

But I'd find any chance I could to go back by myself. Started lying and trying to hide money and stuff. But, you know, I'd be stealing money off her. I think about it now, and, you know, I hate myself for it.

But I can't change it now. So, like I said, I sort of learnt from some really big mistakes. Now I'm really, really active - always out doing something.

It is literally like a whole different life I guess. It's sort of having freedom. You're not depressed all the time.

You know I still go the pub all the time but that's just to have fun with your mates... It's great that the whole other side of it has gone.”

Gabriel's story

Gabriel describes how gambling became an escape for other things in his life.