Six weeks ago Josh Swales reached a point of seemingly no return. The Chalford man found himself in debt and on the brink of losing everything away from football, but thanks to the support of his loved ones and those around him he is changing his life for the better and we are proud to be the ones to tell his story.
In an era where the Gambling Commission tries to pride itself on promoting responsible gambling whilst being everywhere in sport, particularly through sponsorship in football, addiction has seen many people literally gamble away their futures.
“I had hit some hard times in my life, as we all do,” Swales told Severn Sport’s Ryan Butler, Butler who worked in a high street bookmakers for three years and has seen all sorts of negative effects gambling has had on punters.
“I turned to gambling as my escape, to forget about everything. I had taken out loan after loan and credit card after credit card,” admitted Swales. “At first, I took them out for the right reasons and then ended up wasting the money, gambling it up the wall.
There came a point one day when I knew something wasn’t right, so I eventually opened up to my girlfriend and explained the situation and realised that there was an issue, that I did have a problem and that I needed to do something about it.
I lost more than money. I lost a substantial 5-figure sum but more importantly, I almost lost my girlfriend and our two beautiful children,” Swales added.
From there Swales looked to turn his life around and look to build on his future, now whilst he still has a long way to go – with six weeks already under his belt Swales admits that he takes pride with the milestone.
“The first few days were very hard Ryan, everything and anything seemed to be pointing me in the direction of gambling.
However once I got over that, the rest of the past 6 weeks have been better than expected. It wasn’t until Friday when I was given a horse as a ‘tip’ that I realised I hadn’t gambled in such a long time and that was a proud moment for me,” said the winger.
Despite being involved in football and with the link between football and the betting industry, Swales admits that he mainly bet on horses and greyhounds but he believes that there should be more help readily available for those going through a similar addiction, especially when they are trying to give it up.
“The amount of help available depends on how much you actually want help,” said Swales. “It’s not there in front of you and you may have to do some digging to find it but once you get there, it’s worth it.
I personally didn’t feel that the bookies are that good at promoting ‘gamble responsibly’ etc. For me they just put the words here and there but they don’t actually care as they’re making a gain out of someone else’s loss.
I’m very lucky in the fact that my girlfriend has been my biggest help and I would hate to even consider where I’d be without her.”
Here at Severn Sport we always promote responsible gambling, especially during our coverage of the Cheltenham Festival in March, so we were proud to see a tweet from Swales highlighting his pride over the weekend and are proud to see his progress.
Today is 42 days – 6 whole weeks – since I’ve last had a bet and I don’t care how stupid it sounds but I’m ridiculously proud of myself 💪🏻
Might now be ages but it’s a start
— Josh Swales (@JoshSwales) November 8, 2019
We asked Swales about his experience so far and completely echo his following sentiments and encourage anyone who is struggling with gambling or addiction as a whole to seek help. We are all with you!
“Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you’ve got a problem but the sooner you do it, the easier it will be to get out of that situation. Set your limits, stick to your limits and only bet what you can realistically afford to lose.
I am learning from experience and I would advise people to only gamble what they can afford to lose and if you feel your gambling is getting out of hand, or you’re borrowing money to gamble then get help! Talk to people!
There are plenty of people and companies out there willing to help if you look hard enough. I’ve come so close to losing everything, especially my family, that I’ve now realised no gambling is worth losing everything over.”