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Meet Stacey Goodwin, Stacey completed treatment for her gambling addiction at Gordon Moody in 2018. As an 18-year-old woman living with gambling addiction Stacey felt alone and powerless unable to find a way out of the grip of gambling addiction.

For 8 years Stacey battled on trying various methods to confront her gambling but with limited support. The lure of payday and online slots would often lead to a familiar path of guilt and despair that Stacey felt unable to talk about. After all, whoever heard of an 18-year-old woman with a gambling addiction? Well, the truth is there are more women living with gambling addiction than you think.

Following her successful completion of treatment through Gordon Moody’s retreat and counselling programme, which offers remote 1 to1 therapy sandwiched between 2 stays at a retreat location. Stacey has remained gambling free and has dedicated her time to raising awareness of the issue of gambling addiction in women.

As well as being active across social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok where Stacey has over 30,000 followers, Stacey decided to share her journey by writing a book. Titled “The Girl Gambler”  through the book’s protagonist ‘Steph’ who charts the journey of a young woman affected by gambling addiction.

We caught up with Stacey to talk about her book, her journey and her experience with us at Gordon Moody.

Hey Stacey, how are you?

I am absolutely on top of the world. I can’t explain it I feel absolutely free. I know how trapped and depressed I actually was, but I didn’t realise it because I’d been through it for so long, I just thought it was normal and to wake up everyday without that feeling! It’s coming up to 2 years I’ve been gambling free now.

You have written a book “The Girl Gambler” what made you want to write a book?

The reason I wrote a book was because I started a campaign to raise awareness of gambling addiction. I was watching telly and there were so many gambling adverts – people can’t get away from gambling and I wished more than anything that when I was 18 there was a book or a female celebrity female, someone, anyone that could have told me that she had been through it, here read this, you are not on your own, I feel these things too, it’s normal and you can get better. It does get better.

I felt something like this was missing, there was nothing that I could have picked up that I was aware of, and I think it could have changed things if I had because I wouldn’t have felt alone anymore. I would have known that other women went through it and truly understood what I was feeling.

That was the whole drive behind me doing it, to say you are not on your own.

I think a lot of people will be grateful that you wrote your book Stacey. What has the response been like?

It’s been absolutely amazing. I’m not in a place now where I’ve got loads of money or anything like that, I reached out to publishers, and it got declined on so many occasions. I didn’t have money to get a professional proofreader or anything like that, but I thought it’s so important, I’m going to do it and people have loved the fact that I did.

It’s not an autobiography from a celebrity that will make millions and is perfect, there are imperfections in the book because it’s my absolute true account, my own words. So many women who follow me on social media have messaged me to say thank you for what I have done and for letting other people know saying that it’s like reading their own lives and lived experiences. Loads of people have said that. I have had no negative feedback since I published it although I’m sure there will be some point. Negative opinions or views are guaranteed when you put yourself out there, but it pushes me to know that I did the right thing, sharing my story.

You’ve made it clear the book is about yourself, it’s very personal and it has helped a lot of people. How has it made you feel?

Incredible! I was really scared at the beginning about revealing my identity in it all because it is just something that you are programmed to do when you have a gambling addiction, to hide. You do everything anonymously, nobody ever knows, so I was hugely proud. I remember one day when I decided that I was going to help people I thought this is why I went through it. I used to ask myself, question why did I go through it? Why did this happen to me? I honestly believe now that this book was meant to happen and that it was meant to help other people, so I am just absolutely filled with pride for myself and that is something that I never had through gambling. There is just so much shame and self-loathing it feels like a 100% turnaround to be proud of myself.

Throughout the book, you refer to feelings of letting people down and not wanting to hurt others but there is very little self-pity or sympathy for the gambler is that how you felt?

I think that now looking back I can understand better that I was ill, I was suffering, but there is so little about gambling that is understood. That’s why I bring the invisible twin into it, anybody looking at me would think it’s just me making those decisions, what they couldn’t see was that I was being harassed constantly by my own thoughts, my negative effecting invisible twin.

As for self-pity, you do blame yourself entirely because you can’t see that there is anything else or anyone else to blame. The only person who is sat clicking that button is you so it’s very hard to feel anything other than complete responsibility until you go through treatment and learn that there is more to it, and it is not as simple as it looks. It’s very very hard to pity yourself, I can look at myself now and feel empathy, but I wish I could talk to myself back then and say you are not a bad person.

I used to visualise the money that I owed into my mind, and I would justify the bits that I could dip into. That’s just my food money, it doesn’t matter if I don’t eat or that’s my money to get to work, I can use that but as soon as I went into someone else’s portion of the money like money that I owed my mum, that’s when it really hits you, that’s when you start chasing harder, but I thought nothing of myself, I hated myself so much.

It seems like a selfish thing to do but I never had myself on my mind. Even when I won, I would go and buy something for someone else (if I ever managed to withdraw) or I would gift someone money because the money didn’t mean anything to me at all I just didn’t know that at the time.

How difficult was it for you to access treatment?

I tried a number of times, I kept going to my doctors and they kept offering me tablets and I said I don’t think a tablet can fix this, so they told me to refer myself to counselling but not to say it’s gambling, say it’s low self-esteem. Eventually, I attended some sessions, but I was the only young woman in a group of older men, and it was petrifying. Then I applied to Gordon Moody, that was the only thing that made the difference. I look back now and I wonder why nobody told me about Gordon Moody, about Gamstop, Gamban. I’d never heard of these organisations before I went to Gordon Moody. I want to print a thousand fliers and tell everyone where to go to seek help and support for gambling-related harm.

You are doing amazing work Stacey both through your book and in the media, what advice would you give to women seeking help?

My first message would be that you are not on your own, no matter how young you are or how old you are not the only woman going through this, you are not the first and you won’t be the last it’s just not spoken about enough.

If I could speak to a younger me, I would just say, keep looking, don’t give up. Treatments aren’t right for everybody; Gordon Moody might not be right for everybody, but it was perfect for me. We are continuing to build awareness and accessibility. Please don’t give up after that first search or after that first try and you feel that it’s not right for you. There is something out there that will work for you and it will change your life – for the better.

I thought I was past the point of help- I’d gambled every month for 8 years, even when I applied for Gordon Moody, I didn’t think it would help but it did, it genuinely did. I am beyond grateful.

 

Where to go next

Stacey’s book “The Girl Gambler” is available to buy from Amazon bookstore.

If you or a loved one are concerned about gambling, you can talk to us.

The national gambling helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 8020 133.

 

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