Drink and Drugs News DDN March 2019 - Page 16

KEEP ON MOVING: ThE 12Th DDN cONfErENcE Session 3 ‘I’m calling on the drug and alcohol treatment sector to do more to at every level to be just that little bit more curious about gambling.’ ‘I found what I was looking for – a short and very intense practical intervention.’ Although he went on to relapse a couple of years later, what was important was that ‘I’d managed to achieve a period where I’d stayed stopped for the first time.’ Accessing targeted help had been oWeN BAIly ‘quite a journey’, he said. ‘If you use substances you’re far better off in terms of access to treatment. With gambling it very much depends on where you live.’ All gambling treatment organisations received funding indirectly from the gambling industry, he pointed out. 16 | drinkanddrugsnews | March 2019 In recent years, Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) had brought a ‘hard’ form of gambling onto the high street and generated considerable controversy, while gambling advertising had also started to proliferate. However, a public health-based review of gambling harms had been announced and the NHS was now looking at how it could improve access to treatment. ‘Despite a bad start in life, today I’m in a very good place in my recovery. As I look forward I see a bright and fulfilling future, and I’m incredibly passionate about putting my experience of gambling-related harm to positive use.’ Services could display details of help on notice boards, hold meetings and appoint a person in each service as a gambling rep, he said. ‘Let’s carry on talking and see what we can do to improve knowledge, understanding and awareness around gambling-related harm.’ T he day closed with a presentation from Jacquie Johnston, on the theme of moving forward through knowing what’s driving you from your past. As a little girl she had been ‘innocent and excitable’, but had no idea what her life was going to look like, she said. She’d been inseparable from her brother, mainly through fear – ‘my dad was a raging binge- drinking alky, and a regular perpetrator of domestic violence. We’d sit and listen to mum and dad fight.’ The shame of having a failed marriage meant her mother stayed in the situation for years, but ‘during one of their worst-ever fights I managed as a nine-year-old to phone the police and we got out that night in just the clothes we stood up in’. However, her mother by now had ‘lost her spirit’ and become alcohol-dependent. As her mother was ‘drunk or absent most of the time’ she had to take on the role of ‘mini-mum’ to her brother, she said. By this time, however, her life had also ‘taken a turn – a path of sexual abuse, truanting, violence, self-harm, suicide attempts, neglect’, she said, followed by foster care, detention centres, mental health wards and hospital. ‘While all that had a huge impact on my life, I still had my brother.’ He also took the father role with her young sons, as ‘because history often repeats itself I went on to marry an alcoholic gambler when I was 17’. Her brother’s life, however, was tragically cut short when he was killed by a drunk driver in 1992. ‘My whole life changed. My eldest son was 12 and he also tried to take his own life as a result www.drinkanddrugsnews.com