Former Parramatta Eels star Nathan Hindmarsh shared his problem gambling story with more than 100 Melville High School students in an attempt to further their understanding on how easily the habit can develop into an issue.
The 38-year-old, who played his final season in the NRL in 2012, was battling addiction for the first half of his career.
Hindmarsh overcame his gambling demons with the support of his family, friends, professional help and the Parramatta Eels club.
The NSW and Australian representative found it hard to resist temptation at first but said he’s now in a position where he can be near pokie machines without feeling the urge to gamble.
Hindmarsh said informing young people on the issues associated with problem gambling will help prevent addiction from occurring.
“It’s important to educate teenagers on gambling addiction in the same way we do with drugs and alcohol,” Hindmarsh told the Argus.
“If we speak to them before they enter the real world and explain how it’s okay to have a punt but also necessary to ask for help if they begin to feel like there’s an issue.”
Hindmarsh encouraged the students to suggest assistance for their family members or friends if they identify them with a problem.
He said a support network is important to beat addiction.
“My friends would hold onto my wallet when I went out with friends, it was embarrassing but I am glad it happened,” Hindmarsh said.
“It isn’t a quick fix but family, friends and professionals will help you overcome your gambling problems.”
Hindmarsh explained to the Year 10 students his addiction began with loose change in his pocket.
“I started off winning 30 dollars and thought to myself how easy it was… within a week I had returned and maxed out my credit card,” he said.
“I kept trying to win it back and that’s the worst thing you can do.”
Daniel Hopkins from Mission Australia worked with the Warruwi Gambling Help organisation to organise Nathan Hindmarsh to speak with the Melville students.
Hindmarsh also spoke at the Mid North Coast Corrections Centre and at the Kempsey Healing Together Community Forum called the Watayi Warra.