Gambling addiction 

Jake realised that he had a gambling problem at the age of 32. He describes the mental, physical and financial strains the addiction placed on his life, and experts explain that gambling addiction is as serious as drug or alcohol addiction. Find help if you or someone else has a gambling problem at the GamCare website or call 0808 8020 133.

GamCare: supporting a problem gambler

Transcript of Gambling addiction

My life force was just spent to get money for funds to gamble

and I was just digging a deeper and deeper hole.

And I remember I went on the internet, played online poker when I was 32

when it first exploded onto the scene.

And I played only once and that night I lost �10,000.

I just stood up and I collapsed.

And I was crying uncontrollably

and I could see myself for what I was for the first time,

somebody who had absolutely no control where gambling was concerned.

And that was when I had to finally admit to myself for the first time

that I had a problem with gambling.

The public perception has always been,

OK, drugs and alcohol are serious, but gambling is not a serious addiction.

Gambling is a serious addiction.

It can damage a person over a long period of time and damage very heavily.

When somebody is suffering from problem gambling,

the gambling has taken over their life.

Gambling addiction can impact on people's home life,

impact on their work environment, their productivity.

and it can also impact on their capacity to be good parents.

So it becomes absolutely exhausting, it becomes draining.

You suffer from panic attacks, anxiety attacks.

You think because there's no ingestion of substances

you think there's no physical, but there is.

When you feel so worthless and you have absolutely no control of your behaviour,

well, suicidal thoughts, that's a regular occurrence.

You just... At times you want it all to end.

The financial pressures that problem gambling puts on people

often leads them to have to behave in ways

they would never have thought possible in the past,

and you see morally upright people ending up taking money in illegal ways

from their relatives or from their employers.

Gambling is so socially acceptable.

You feel that what you are doing is completely harmless.

When you have a gambling addiction, you don't know it, because you're in denial.

With virtually every gambler that we've seen over the years,

there is low self-esteem, which is one of the reasons again why people gamble.

When you gamble you feel good,

but when you lose you feel low again, your self-esteem plummets.

Winning and losing become immaterial. You just want that feeling.

So you keep placing bets. You want to stay in the action, keep the excitement.

Once you stop, even if you've won, you come down. Nobody wants to come down.

We need two ways of treating it.

It's important to be able to understand the reasons why a person gambles,

but it's also important to change the behaviour.

There are different ways in which gambling is treated,

but the latest research shows that cognitive behavioural therapy

is the most effective way to treat people.

I was starting to find ways of how I could overcome problem gambling.

I had to learn about gambling addiction, why I'd become addicted.

And that knowledge became powerful.

I became more aware of what was happening.

If anybody does think they have a gambling problem

or they know someone who has,

it's important to check it out, talk to professionals about it.

It leaves a massive void in your life, because gambling was your life.

So as soon as it's gone, that's when you're very vulnerable.

Organisations like GamCare,

we run a national helpline

which a person can call and talk to one of the counsellors on the helpline

and just say, "What is going on here?" They'll get support.

If somebody feels they have a problem with gambling

and it has become problematic,

then the best way to access help would be to go to their GP.

I no longer see a chance to win lots of money

or to have control in an area of my life,

because I don't have control in other areas of my life.

I don't feel as worthless. I feel more in control. It's just so uplifting.

And I just feel so much richer for it. It feels great.

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Gambling addiction

Read about gambling addiction, its effects and treatment options, and where to get help