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Gambling nearly drove me to suicide - reformed addict calls for action group
A REFORMED compulsive gambler whose addiction almost drove him to suicide wants to set up a St Helens network to help others facing a similar plight.
Mark Potter, a 32-year-old married father-of-three, admitted how he was at such a low ebb 12 months ago he nearly took his own life.
“After years of being crippled by addiction I’d had enough and couldn’t see how I could stop and seriously considered jumping off a bridge”, said the Liverpool St Helens RUFC second row forward.
But thanks to backing from the Rugby Football Union he went on a month-long course at former England soccer star Tony Adams’ Sporting Chance Clinic and he’s kicked the habit and hasn’t had a bet for almost a year.
Now he believes there is a need in St Helens for an organisation to help others who have a gambling addiction.
Mark, from Eccleston, told the Star: “Since early adulthood I had a problem with gambling. It started as a social thing but in the end I was lying to people and being deceitful and borrowing money for gambling.
“It ended up affecting both my work and family life. The problem was in my early 20s I had quite a big win on the horses – a few grand for a £20 or £30 five-horse accumulator. That was the worst thing that could have happened.
“If you lost all your first five bets you might never want to gamble again, but if you have a good win you’re likely to keep on trying for another and end up always chasing a big pay out.
“I couldn’t pack it in. In the end I was turning over thousands of pounds. Internet gambling was my main problem. I’d be using credit cards and betting two or three hundred pounds a day. I could never win enough. I was getting up in the middle of the night betting on basketball and any other event I could find!
“Since I stopped gambling I realise the only way to make money is to stop gambling!
“There are an awful lot of problem gamblers in St Helens and about 40 bookies shops. We’ve got help available for people with drink and drugs problems but the nearest facilities to help people stop gambling are at Wigan and Salford.
“I’ve done some research and there are 30 bookmakers in St Helens borough all of which take an average of £25,000 per week. This is nearly £75,000 per week worth of bets.
“The suicide rates are higher than in other addictions due to the financial implications of problem gambling and needs to be addressed ASAP.”
Now Mark is hoping like-minded people will get in touch to get the ball rolling and set up similar lifelines.
Anyone who shares Mark’s hopes or is suffering from a gambling problem, or family and friends of those with a betting addiction, is welcome to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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