Gambling is an accepted part of everyday life in the UK. One only has to see the number of television adverts, on-line adverts and apps to see the growing popularity of gambling.

Gambling takes many forms, some of which appear to be just a bit of fun, but it is important to see how this can also lead to problems and compulsive gambling.

For most people, gambling may simply be entering the national lottery once or twice per week or the occasional bet on a sports match. These people appear not to have a problem, and most will happily continue doing this without any serious consequences. However, some of these people will develop a gambling addiction.

In the UK it is estimated that approximately 430,000 people are suffering from compulsive gambling. This number has grown dramatically over recent years and can be attributed to a variety of factors including:

  • Economic downturn
  • Increased presence of betting shops on the high street
  • Increased marketing of betting companies
  • Mobile and digital gambling platforms
  • Increased lottery draws and scratchcards
  • FOBT machines in betting shops (usually Roulette)

All these factors have a part to play. It is now very easy to gamble 24 hours a day. Last year it is estimated that approximately 10 billion pounds were spent on gambling!

It is estimated that approximately 5% of compulsive gamblers seek help from a gambling program or gambling rehab. This means that 95% of problem gamblers have their lives ruined by debt and depression.

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Gambling Addiction Myths

For many years, people thought that to be an alcoholic you had to be a ‘park bench drunk’. This is not the case and the same applies to gambling. You do not have to gamble every day to be a compulsive gambler. Being a compulsive or problem gambler generally describes someone who gambles and as a result has problems.

The Myths

  • “If I pay off the debts the problem is solved.”
    This is, in fact, the opposite of the truth and often just enables the gambler to continue.
  • “Gambling is not a problem if I’m rich enough.”
    This is a myth. Gambling will affect emotional well-being, relationships and performance regardless of the amount of money that one has.
  • “I’m bound to win. I’ve had such a bad losing streak.”
  • “Compulsive gambling only affects irresponsible people who make bad choices.”
    Myth! Like any other addiction, gambling can affect anyone and is a complex process which often requires professional gambling addiction treatment.
  • “It’s easy to spot a compulsive gambler.”
    Myth! In fact, gamblers are usually masters at hiding the problem, often painting a rosy picture to the rest of the world.

Living with a Problem Gambler

In many cases, problem gamblers will want the help and support of their friends and family to quit gambling. Unfortunately, due to the damage done to the family system by the gambling and the accompanying lies, it is very common for the family to have conflicting emotions. On the one hand, you may have tried to cover up their problem or invested a lot of time in making sure they do not gamble as much, but on the other hand you may be very angry at your loved one for gambling again and again after so many broken promises.

Depending on your situation, it is not uncommon that they have borrowed or taken money from you, run up huge debts or sold family possessions. It is important that you realise that it is impossible for you to make someone stop gambling.

Much like those who are suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction, it is important that you look after yourself.

  • Do not blame yourself for the problem or let their addiction dominate your life.
  • Get support. You do not have to deal with this problem alone or feel ashamed and protect your loved one. Reaching out for support is the kindest thing you can do for yourself and your loved one.
  • Set clear boundaries as to what is and isn’t acceptable. Stick to these boundaries.
  • Do not enable the addiction to continue; do not give them money.
  • Understand that the problem your loved one has may require professional gambling treatment. They may have genuinely tried to stop but are simply unable to without the right help and support

If you are affected by the gambling or gaming of a loved one and want to find out more about the treatment options available, speak to our trained counsellors at The Providence Projects on 0800 955 09 45. If your loved one is in denial and you do not know what to do next, find out more about how we can help conduct a family intervention. Our specialist counsellors are available 24/7.

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