45 Years of Pokies Addiction Broken - No More Gambling

Helen - Coffs Harbour, Australia

Photo of Helen

Growing up in Australia in the 60s–70s and 80s, life was a constant merry-go-round of BBQs – going to the pub or to the club. If you were not at someone’s house having a BBQ, you were at the pub or the club. Nothing much has changed today.

There were concerts to go to, raffles to attend, get-togethers and meetings with 1 or 2 people or a group; it was always the ‘LOCAL’, where you met. I met my 1st husband in a pub, and my 2nd husband in a club. If you were not seen for a week or so you were not in the crowd.

Mind you no-one cared that you were not seen, it didn’t matter if you never went back, no-one cared. No-one called in home to see if you were ok or not. Notice the false sense of values!!

The biggest downfall of these establishments is of course the ‘POKER MACHINES’.  After an argument or when you were just bored with the company you were in, they were always there. They sang and danced and created a state of much excitement. Of course, over time they became the reason for going to the pub or the club.

Going to the raffles now meant ‘having a flutter’ (Australian for playing poker machines), before you went home. Meeting for dinner now meant ‘having a flutter’, before you went home. Meeting friends became a quick hello. ‘Just going for a flutter’, became a catchword all too common. In the end going to the club meant only one thing: playing the pokies!! Going to the raffle meant the same – playing the pokies!! Going to a show often meant that you would leave your friends watching the show, just so you could escape and play the pokies!!

Over the years, all your so-called friends, became someone just to say hello to – if they saw you near the pokies, or if you had to, by chance, walk past them. Friendships turned into acquaintanceships and the only friend left was the good old poker machine. It might have taken all your money by the end of the night, but it still did so with music and movement, still so exciting that you did not realise it was draining you. Poker machines can lull you into a false sense of comfort and you can’t wait till you see them again.

One day I realised that I had no close friends any more, and if I did make friends with anyone, most of the time I had no money to go to the movies or anywhere else, as I needed my money for my best friend - THE POKIES. So I never formed any close friendships, or if I did, it was with the wrong people. I even found myself lying about where I was going.

I tried for years to break the habit, but to no avail.

One day I decided to change my life around. I stopped smoking overnight. I stopped drinking overnight. But I could not stop going to the pokies. They had a tight hold on me, one that I couldn’t break on my own. I tried for years to break the habit, but to no avail.

When I reaffirmed my life with Jesus, I thought, ‘Now I am on the right track.’ I tried prayer over and over again but still no results. I was baptized in a Pentecostal church, and thought, ‘Now I will beat my habit.’ I joined a cell group within the church, and with 7 other people praying with me, still there was no answer.

I had counselling with Lifeline for nearly 12 months but the pokies still had me in their grip. I agonised as to how I would be able to break this habit. I was still playing the pokies at least twice a week and had given up going to church. I thought, ‘Even Jesus in my life didn’t help.’

BUT I WAS WRONG. I met a new church group, and was immediately attracted to Jesus again. I felt closer to Him, but did not know why. I received the gift of the Holy Spirit (speaking in tongues). Now I felt special. I would not tell my new group about my addiction, as I was embarrassed about it. Here I was going to church, praising and worshiping the Lord. And on the way home, I would call into the club – just for a flutter!!!

The devil got into my life and stood between Jesus and me. Now I didn’t just have an addiction, but I had to do battle with the devil as well. Many a time I would come home from my double life and I would cry out to Jesus. ‘Why!  Why!?’ And to make it worse, now I would stop going to some of our Bible meetings, as I didn’t feel worthy. Can you imagine the battle going on in me!!!

I still hadn’t told anyone, due to embarrassment and shame. But a miracle was happening, very slowly, but happening. I was learning how to pray the way Jesus wanted me to, in His language and in His understanding. I was getting on my knees and talking to Jesus every morning and night!!!

“Why don't you just empty your purse into the devil's pocket!”

After a wonderful weekend of worship and fellowship with people from different areas, I found myself at the club, again and you guessed it, playing a poker machine!!! I was agonising with myself wondering why this was happening after a particularly spiritual weekend. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a man appeared. He walked straight toward me, looked at me and said, “WHY DON’T YOU JUST EMPTY YOUR PURSE INTO THE DEVIL’S POCKET!!!” I was so shocked by this. I pressed the button for my money and started shaking. I did not walk out of that club – I RAN. Not all angles have wings!

I have not been back. I did think about it once, and immediately said in a loud voice, “In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, take these devil thoughts away from me.” Immediate peace was upon me.

I can now go into a pub or a club for a meal, or to meet a friend, and no longer even think about the pokies.

45 YEARS OF ADDICTION – GONE. PRAISE THE LORD!!

I will attest to you that without my belief in the Lord and the gift of knowing how to pray and with God answering my prayer, I would probably be at the club now, instead of writing this. Thank you Jesus!

Helen

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