Gambling was wrecking Warren Henrick’s life before he found his new path.
I’m a case manager with The Salvation Army Brisbane Recovery Services (Moonyah) and have supported supported hundreds of clients over the last 15 years, but my first contact with the Salvos was as a client.
I’m sure that already I had a gambling problem by the age of seven. It began as a fun game. My father was a loving dad and he was a teetotaller, but, like many Australians, he was a social gambler. He would sit down with us and listen to the trots on a Friday night. He would place small bets and enjoy the father-son time.
By 13, I was attending the races by myself. It became a regular thing. I’d get myself off on a Saturday morning, even though my parents weren’t really happy about it, and at 15 I left school to work to get more money to gamble with.
I didn’t take drugs but I began to do things I knew I was never brought up to do and started taking other people’s money for gambling.
Life was really difficult between 21 and 23. I got engaged and when that broke up, I fell into real depression, and I felt a huge sense of shame.
Then my father died suddenly from a heart attack. I felt responsible for that and to cope with the shame and grief I just gambled more and more.
I made a fairly significant suicide attempt and was finally charged by the police with stealing.
For the next 16 years, I had long periods when I abstained from gambling, but stress or other issues would trigger a relapse.
On Valentine’s Day 2000 I gambled the last $20 I had. My employer was going to call the police and I remember visiting my partner (now my wife) saying, ‘I’m really sorry I can’t give you a Valentine present. I’ve got no money. I’m going to rehab tomorrow and, by the way, the police will probably come looking for me.’
I drove straight to Moonyah.
I remember when I walked in I actually couldn’t say a word. I sat in Major Bryce Davies’ office and finally told him what the problem was. He was very patient and kind to me and encouraged me to come to their program, which I agreed to do the following day.
When I got here they made me work on making changes to myself, which I hadn’t done before. If I’d stayed the same person I would still be a gambler. That’s what is so important to recovery.
I was raised a Catholic, so I knew God existed, but I had no relationship with God. The only time I ever really prayed was to get me out of trouble. I’m sure God did many times.
I had a spiritual awakening after I came to Moonyah. I woke up one day and didn’t feel trapped by my addiction any more. I had a sense of freedom and all of the love, fun and joy came back into my life.
That’s probably the biggest difference. Today I live my life by Proverbs 3 verses 5–6 which reads: ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ I truly believe that, and now I can say I really believe in my path in life.
I’m passionate about helping people and believe that when people get to a certain point when they really need help, they need someone to be able to walk beside them.
Here at Moonyah you do see lives transformed and we see many miracles. Clients have halted their addiction, their family relationships are repaired and they build a relationship with God. That’s what keeps us coming back day after day and year after year.