NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

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Gambling Addiction

There may be as many as 593,000 problem gamblers in Great Britain. The anticipation and thrill of gambling creates a natural high that can become addictive.

Problem gamblers are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem,stress, anxiety and depression.

Many of us like to place the odd bet or play the lottery - but it’s only a problem for about 9 people in every 1000. However, a further 70 people out of every 1000 gamble at risky levels that can become a problem in the future.

Who is most likely to get this problem?

  • In men – but this might just be because women gamble less than men.
  • In teenagers and young adults - but problems of this sort can start at any age. Children as young as 7 may find it difficult to control the amount of time they spend on computer games. Older people may have too much time on their hands.
  • If someone else in your family - particularly one of your parents - is a problem gambler. This may be partly due to genes but can be learnt – by seeing a parent gamble or being taught to gamble by them.
  • In people who work in casinos, betting shops or amusement arcades.
  • In certain types of gambling:
  • Internet gambling
  • Video poker
  • Dice games
  • Playing sports for money
  • High-risk stocks
  • Roulette
  • If you drink heavily or use illegal drugs.
  • If you have depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder (manic depression).

Potential harms associated with problem gambling

Problem gamblers are more likely than other people to experience the following harms:

Financial harms: overdue utility bills; borrowing from family friends and loan sharks; debts; pawning or selling possessions; eviction or repossession; defaults; committing illegal acts like fraud, theft, embezzlement to finance gambling; bankruptcy; etc...

Family harms: preoccupied with gambling so normal family life becomes difficult; increased arguments over money and debts; emotional and physical abuse, neglect and violence towards spouse/partner and/or children; relationship problems and separation/divorce.

Health harms: low self-esteem; stress-related disorders; anxious, worried or mood swings; poor sleep and appetite; substance misuse; depression, suicidal ideas and attempts; etc...

School/college/work harms: poor school, college or work performance; increased absenteeism; expulsion or dismissal.

Steps to reduce gambling - helping yourself

Although there is no substitute for professional help, here are some simple and practical measures to reduce gambling:

Limit the amount of money you spend gambling

  • Set a limit from the start on how much you are willing to spend on gambling in a session or in a week. Stick to it!
  • Leave credit/cash cards at home when you go out to gamble.
  • If you use a betting account, ask them to place a limit on it - say £50 - this works for online casinos too!
  • On pay day, aim to pay all your priority debts first (mortgage, rent, council tax, food, etc...)

Reduce the amount of time and days that you gamble

  • Set yourself a limit on how many times a week you will gamble (e.g. twice a week)  - be specific and name the days.
  • Avoid those "I'll just have a quick go" scenarios.
  • You can set your alarm on your watch or phone to remind you - even your PC will have a calendar reminder alert you can use.

Don't view gambling as a way of making money

  • Always remember that you are buying entertainment.
  • Always be prepared to lose - if you win, know that it will happen by chance.
  • Never spend your savings or investments on gambling.
  • Ask friends and family not to lend you money if you ask them.

Spend time doing other activities

  • Spend more time with family or friends.
  • Take up a new hobby or interest or revisit one that you enjoyed before gambling took over.
  • Join a social group or organise events with friends who don't gamble.
  • Talk to other about your worries or concerns rather than 'bottling' them up.

Get help if you think you're addicted to gambling

National Problem Gambling Clinic If you live in England or Wales and are over 16, you can refer yourself to the only specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers. For more information, visit the clinic's website. 

GamCare The main support organisation in the UK is GamCare, which runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and provides face-to-face counselling. For more information please visit the GamCare website. 

Gamblers Anonymous Gamblers Anonymous uses the same 12-step approach as Alcoholics Anonymous and also has a support group for relatives called Gam-Anon. If you would like to find out more information about Gamblers Anonymous please visit their website

NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

Headquarters
722 Prince of Wales Road
Sheffield
S9 4EU