SITTING alone in a jail cell for six months gave Tracey Holzheimer the chance to turn her life around.
Gambling cost Mrs Holzheimer her freedom, career, countless friendships and the trust of her family.
The money was not even a consideration.
"Gambling is not about the money, it never is," she said.
"It's about emotions. Either the emotions gambling gives you or the suppressed emotions that lead you into gambling."
She names Gladstone as a town hitting a gambling crisis yet despite this, the local Gamblers Anonymous group she frequents remains small in numbers.
"In Gladstone, the wages are so high it means gamblers recover quickly from their losses," she said.
"Essentially, they can escape the issue, but the issue doesn't escape them."
Deciding to confront her problem gambling meant Mrs Holzheimer was forced to change the routes she walked, the people she surrounded herself with and even the days she bought the newspaper.
Spring racing carnival is a dreaded time of year for not only herself, but many of the former gamblers she knows.
"You never know what could trigger a relapse," she said.
"In the end, if they want to gamble, nothing can stand in their way."
After months of siphoning money from her former employer, Mrs Holzheimer finally came clean, leading to a three-year jail sentence, suspended after six months.
"It was a very frightening time for me. I had never even known someone who had been to jail," she said.
"It served as a bloody good deterrent but it should never have to get to that point."
Mrs Holzheimer said jail was only the beginning, with Gamblers Anonymous meetings helping her enormously in her road to recovery.
She urges anyone confronting a battle with gambling to call their local Gamblers Anonymous group.
The Gladstone branch can be reached on 0400 497 230.
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