Gambling Addiction – what’s the cost?
There have been a few stories in the media recently about gambling addiction such as the story of the student who lost £5,000 in 48 hours on fixed bet gambling machines and a Government Review looking at the possibility of reducing the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals.
According to the BBC report, at the moment, people can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds. That’s a staggering amount that can be gambled and lost in no time at all.
And from working with people who struggle with a gambling addiction, there is no doubt that, for some people, it’s easy to get caught up in an ever deepening and desperate spiral of debt and financial loss. My clients will often describe how they go into a sort of trance where they are fixated on the next bet, getting a high from any wins and becoming desperate to recoup any losses. And of course, whilst many use machines of head into the local bookmakers, the easy access to online gambling means that you can bet on practically anything you like twenty four hours a day.
The lure of riches, the buzz of the risk and the high of any wins all play a part. There can also be issues of stress, depression, anxiety and low self esteem that contribute too.
Earlier this year I worked with a gambling addict who had secretly run up thousands of pounds of debt which only came to light when his partner noticed a loan application arrive in the post and questioned him about it.
And that’s the thing with a gambling addiction: it can lead to secrecy, financial ruin for you and your family and can destroy relationships. As the losses mount, you can be tempted to spend more than you can afford to try and get your nose back in front and you can become more and more fixated on trying to work the odds or develop a system, all the while withdrawing more and more from those close to you. I’ve even known people to lose their jobs because they were so busy gambling in work time.
The other day, my family and I were at the seaside and took the kids to the amusements for half an hour. Now we only play the 2p machines and they have a limit of only a couple of pounds each. It’s a bit of fun and, despite their desire to keep going, once the coins are gone, they are gone. There’s a huge difference between taking cash out of your pocket and watching it disappear into machines than online gambling, where it can just seem like a bunch of numbers on a screen and somehow not as real and certainly not as tangible as it would if you took all your cash into a bookmakers and laid it on the table, watching it ebb away in front of your eyes.
Even after losing thousands, I’ve known gamblers who still hold the dream of winning big and who find it tough to break free of the craving to bet.
Yet, like other addictions, it is possible to overcome your gambling addiction. You can change the thoughts, habits and emotions that go with it before the negative impacts become too great.
To your happiness
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