More Education Required to Highlight Dangers of Gambling Addiction

One of the most devastating addictions is a gambling addiction because of the effect it has on the sufferer and his or her loved ones. While all addictions can destroy lives, a gambling addiction directly affects family members and loved ones of the person with the illness. This addiction is one of the easiest to hide and so for that reason, it is known as a ‘secret’ addiction.

The knock-on effect of a gambling addiction can be far-reaching. It is not uncommon for problem gamblers to amass huge debts, leaving their family facing financial ruin. In addition, as with all addictions, a gambling addiction can cause mental and physical health problems that can include stress, depression and anxiety, for the person with the addiction and their loved ones.

A Common Problem

Gambling addiction is becoming more and more common in the UK, with many people developing this devastating illness. However, it is not just those who are desperate for a big win to change their lives who develop problems with gambling.

Many sports stars have opened up about their problems with gambling and have spoken out about how the illness has affected their lives. Former footballer John Taylor admits to developing a fascination with gambling at the young age of fourteen. Unfortunately for John, this attraction grew into an addiction that almost had deadly consequences. He said, “It got to the point where I knew that if I didn’t seek help, I would end up doing myself some serious harm. It had already affected my family, and I didn’t have many friends left because I was always caught up in my own little world.”

He confessed that there were several times when he considered taking his life. And, while he knows he is lucky to have never followed through on these thoughts, he says others have not ‘survived that thought process’.

Easy Access

John is not alone; there are an estimated half-a-million people in the UK struggling with a problem gambling habit. Many blame the fact that gambling has become more accessible than before thanks to online gaming sites and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Addiction charities believe individuals need to be educated regarding the risks of gambling. The head of gambling charity Breakeven, Ian Semel, said the ‘face of gambling has changed massively in the past five to six years’ and he believes the most significant change is the easy accessibility of online gambling.

Online gambling is available twenty-four hours to anyone with a bank account and access to the internet. Mr Semel said, “One of the biggest problems that evolves with people who gamble remotely is that it does not feel like real money. There’s a big difference between withdrawing cash from a bank and placing a bet at the counter, compared with using a credit or debit card on a gambling website. The only evidence of what you’ve spent is when you see the account statements.”

Betting Machines

Nevertheless, it is not just online gambling that is causing a growth in the number of people developing crushing gambling addictions. Betting shops around the country have a number of betting machines or fixed odds betting terminals, installed where punters can bet up to £300 per minute on casino-style games such as Black Jack, roulette and poker. These machines have been dubbed the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling due to the number of people becoming addicted and displaying aggressive behaviour towards them after suffering substantial losses.

A Treatable Illness

Gambling addictions destroy lives, but it is important to remember that it is an illness. The good news is that it is a treatable illness. Here at Middlegate, we provide help and advice to those suffering from a number of addictions. Our aim is to put those who need help in touch with the organisations providing that help.

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, contact us here at Middlegate today for free, confidential advice and information.

This article originally published at Middlegate Blog here

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