For decades, John had struggled with a gambling addiction, which disrupted his career, job and family life.

But then the COVID-19 pandemic came along. The daily updates of deaths occurring around the world made him realise he was wasting precious time on something that, deep down, gave him little pleasure.

In lockdown with his family, he decided to start afresh.

“I have been struggling with my gambling addiction for a good number of years now. It has brought me to my knees, interfered with my relationship and employment, made me untrustworthy, isolated me and detached me from my beloved family,” John (not his real name) said with a heavy heart.

Gambling, he said, was a short-term solution to his difficulties that left him lonely and depressed.

As he started working from home, all gambling facilities had closed. The first few days, he said, were devastating.

“I felt that something was missing in my life. I can only compare the feeling to bereavement... great desolation, anxiety, emptiness and lack of motivation.”

However, within a few days he started to experience an inner feeling that he found hard to explain. 

This crisis has brought me to my senses

“I was hearing about the numerous fatalities from COVID-19 and I soon realised it could happen to me or my family. I understood how precious life is and recalled all the precious time I had wasted on gambling.

“I felt the urge to do something, to start over and to make better use of my time spent at home. So I started to spend some quality time with my kids, cooking and trying out new recipes.”

He also signed up for online help for people with a gambling addiction.

“I slowly began to feel better, life was starting to make sense again. I started to feel the pleasure in simple things.”

Although still far from free of his addiction, at least he is using this time to make the first step, he said.

“I have started to believe in myself more, to believe that there is new hope for me and a new life away from it all. This crisis has changed me. It brought me to my senses. Maybe this could be my turning point, a new life towards my sought-for recovery,” John said.

John is a member of the gambling addiction support group at NGO Caritas, which has specific services to fight other addictions, including drugs and alcohol. Caritas emergency numbers: 79213480, 79213479, 79213482,  99122515 or email

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