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Gambling addict in remission helping others with problem

John Spice is launching a weekly gamblers anonymous support group
John Spice is launching a weekly gamblers anonymous support group

A gambling addict in remission who struggled to fmd help in Kent is launching a support group in Herne Bay. Building surveyor John Spice, from Studd Hill, wants to help others battling betting problems by starting weekly Gamblers Anonymous meetings in the town. It will be the only group of its kind in the county other than in Maidstone – despite the huge number of betting shops in the area. The 64-year-old, also known as JJ, explains:

“I’m a compulsive gambler in remission. I’ve been going to meetings in Maidstone for the past 11 months because there’s none in this area. My wife asked why I didn’t open my own here. East Kent is a huge catchment area with two casinos and hundreds of betting shops, not to mention online gambling web-sites. There’s a huge need for emotional support here. If I don’t get a full house at the first meeting, I’ll be surprised.”

bThe father-of-eight and grandfather-of-12 knows from personal experience the huge cost, financially and emotionally, of gambling. His habit started at the age of 17 when he was working as a plumbing apprentice on a building site. He was tasked with gathering his colleagues’ bets and taking them to the betting shop. He says:

“Inevitably I got tempted and put £1 on a horse, which won at 20/1. I got hooked from there. It’s gone up and down over the years. I’ve never been destitute, thank god, but I lost a significant amount of money. I had a real problem, emotionally too. It turned me into a liar and a thief. I lost self-respect.”

He adds:

“You never recover from gambling, you go into remission. But you need to admit you have a problem and accept it’s an illness before you can get help. People put a big smile on their face to cover their lies but they can’t do it forever. I’ve known gambling addicts with 14 pay day loans.”

Mr Spice hopes to use his expe rience to offer support to others’ struggling with gambling problems.

“This is the last bastion of help,” he says. “I want people to come down, but they don’t have to say anything. It’s a refuge for people who feel their gambling has got on top of them — JJ will welcome them with open arms.”

The Gamblers Anonymous meetings will take place at St Andrew’s Church in Hampton Pier Avenue from 8pm to 10pm every Thursday, starting on July 3. For more information, visit www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk

Herne Bay Gazette, June 19th 2014

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