An AYRSHIRE gambling addict has told how his life has been transformed through seeking help after losing around after losing a fortune over his life.

A new weekly Gamblers Anonymous group is set to be launched in Irvine’s Fullarton Connexions on February next month.

The Ayrshire resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told how previously joining a Gamblers Anonymous group in Glasgow has been vital in turning his life.

He said: “I went to Gamblers Anonymous for the first time about 14 years ago and had success on and off with a few falls. I recently returned in March 2017, so I’m just coming up to three years gambling-free now but I’ve had a few ups and downs.

“It has affected all aspects of my life, my mental health, my emotions, my physical health, my employment and education opportunities. It has affected my relationships with people and obviously financially is the big one – from the outset it hits you in the pocket but there is a lot more to it.

“The thought of how much money I’ve lost has come into my head before but I’ve just let it go – I could never put a figure on how much I’ve lost.

“I phoned up the betting company to cancel the account and said out of interest can you tell me how much I spent. I had deposited just under £16,000 and withdrew just over £9,000 with a loss of about £6,000 and that was in a three month spell. Over the years I could never put a figure on how much I’ve spent, possibly into millions but certainly hundreds of thousands.

“I’m 35 but I’ve been a compulsive gambler since when I turned 16. At school it was puggy machines, I never saw them as a problem it was just what boys our age done, play football and puggys at the weekend. It probably wasn’t until I left school and went on to uni and had more money and more time on my hands and more access to gambling.

“The way gambling is now it’s almost like an epidemic and a lot of it is digital and online. I had never really bothered with online gambling in the past but I gave it go before I went back. I kept telling myself I would be alright going at this rate and just stick to sports bets – those were the kind of things I kept telling myself with good intentions, but it never ever worked like that.

“Fixed terms betting terminals were probably the killer that ended up taking me to GA in the first place. It would be Friday after I had just been paid and I would go in to put a football coupon on but I could never ever get to that, I was just like a magnet to the betting machine.

“It’s a wonderful place Gamblers Anonymous, it’s really the only way. The fellowship works but at the same time you really need to be committed and attend meetings and hand yourself over to the place. My life is really good now just from doing that but obviously things can change very quickly.

“At first you think I’m the only one living my life like this and then you realise there is hundreds of thousands of people with the same problem. But its a tremendous place in terms of friendship, everyone just wants to see your life better and they tell you how to do it.

It’s difficult when you’ve gambled so long but you start to build up a bit of strength and your life gets better.