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Paul's story

So I was a typical Australian. Football in the winter, cricket in the summer. So sports, sports, and every sport.

So horseracing, um, again, a national sport of Australia, you could say, 'cause we have a public holiday for a race...for a horserace here.

A friend of mine took me to the Melbourne Cup. I think we would've been in Year 8,

about in our early teens, and I just found it quite inquisitive and, you know,

everyone's running around and I was, like, "Oh, this is interesting," you know? "And you can make money from it."

That's sort of... It was like, uh, two things came together and I was like, "Wow! This could be my world."

So I finished high school and then became an apprentice jockey, because I was small enough,

I was light enough and I just thought, "Well, I wasn't good at school, so I'm gonna be interested in these animals."

I'd never touched a horse in my life. And I just thought, "Well, what's to love about this?" You know, I hear everybody has ponies and all these things. And then I just developed this great bond with the animal just to try to work them out because I felt that they needed

that love, connection and relationship.

Something that I needed and what I was seeking, because I didn't feel I had a relationship, even within my family or friends, where I could really be me and tell them secrets or things that I'd done.

Well, it felt like it was a two-way relationship. I gave them something

and they gave me something.

So just learning to ride... Like, I'd never ridden before in my life. I thought it was just, you know,

you jump on their back and you hit them and they move forward. You know, like a car,

you put it into gear and they go.

But it's not. It's learning about trust. It's learning about bond, relationship, communication.

You know, through verbal and through different aids, but it was like, "Wow. OK. I'm listening. You listen to me." And just developing that rapport became, like, "We can work...We can do this together."

It took me that time to understand that, you know, what you give out is what you get back.

1 in 4 Australians will struggle with alcohol, drugs or gambling in their lifetime.

Just one part of Paul's story is his lived experience with gambling addiction, but it's often the only part that people choose to see.

Right now, roughly half a million Australians living with addiction are unable to access the support they need due to a lack of available treatment or fear of judgement.

It played a big role. The shame and stigma was just, like, "Oh, no. What's everybody gonna think? If people actually know the truth, how are they gonna react? I don't wanna tell anybody about it."

And that just kept holding me further and further back.

And knowing myself is really important.

Like they say, if you can love yourself, you can love another. I've learnt to love myself in time, 'cause I didn't like myself for a long period of time.

And that's how you can like and love other people too.

I know they're simple words that just can roll off your tongue, but to have that genuineness of, if you can do it to yourself and explore that, you can give that out as well.

Discover the real stories of addiction, without the stigma.

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