Harmful gambling

We know that for some people gambling can become harmful, hurting relationships and risking serious debt. Are you, or is someone you know, a harmful gambler?

As with other addictions, the consequences of gambling can have a damaging impact on your psychological and physical health, with 60 percent of problem gamblers in the UK suffering from depression and a worrying 13 percent attempting suicide.

What starts as harmless fun can escalate into a problem quickly - recognising the warning signs can help you realise when it’s time to seek help for yourself or others.

Spot the signs

There are a number of signs to look out for, these include:

  • Spending more money and time on gambling than you can afford
  • Finding it hard to manage or stop your gambling
  • Having arguments with family or friends about money and gambling
  • Losing interest in usual activities or hobbies and neglecting work, family and personal needs/responsibilities
  • Always thinking or talking about gambling
  • Lying about your gambling or hiding it from other people
  • Chasing losses or gambling to get out of financial trouble
  • Gambling until all of your money is gone
  • Borrowing money, selling possessions or not paying bills in order to pay for gambling
  • Needing to gamble with more money or for a longer period of time to get the same feeling of excitement
  • Feeling anxious, worried, guilty, depressed or irritable.

Tips if you’re finding it too hard not to gamble:

Do:

  • Pay important bills, such as your mortgage, on payday before you gamble
  • Spend more time with family and friends who don't gamble
  • Deal with your debts rather than ignoring them.

Don't:

  • View gambling as a way to make money - try to see it as entertainment instead
  • Bottle up your worries about your gambling - talk to someone
  • Take credit cards with you when you go gambling.

How to get help

You are NOT ALONE and you don’t need to hide it any longer. If you have a problem with gambling, or you know someone who gambles compulsively, support and advice is available:

  • Beacon Counselling Trust (external link) (in partnership with GamCare) - Delivers a free counselling service in the North West, with face-to-face therapists available in Wigan and Leigh. To find out more call 07506 762949 or 01942 901233. You can also check out our leaflet
  • GamCare (external link) - Offers free one-to-one counselling, couples counselling and group counselling for problem gamblers and their families and runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 802 0133)
  • Self-exclusion (external link) - A facility for those that have decided to stop gambling for at least six months and wish to be supported in their decision to stop 
  • NHS (external link) - Offers information and further advice on where to get help, links to treatment centres and support groups, and self-help tips
  • Be Gamble Aware (external link) - Get advice and access to free, confidential help by phone or online, as well as tips on how to stay in control
  • Gamblers Anonymous UK (external link) - Runs local support groups that use the same 12-step approach to recovery from addiction as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Gordon Moody Association (external link) - Offers residential courses for men and women who have problems with gambling. Email help@gordonmoody.org.uk or call 01384 241292 to find out more
  • Gambling Therapy (external link) - Offers online support to problem gamblers and their friends and family
  • Parent Zone (external link) - Offers free resources and information to help professionals and families learn about the gambling-like risks children may face when playing online games and simple practical things parents and carers can do, to keep gaming fun and safer.
  • BigDeal (external link) - BigDeal is part of GamCare’s Youth Outreach Programme and provides a place for young people to find information and support related to gambling, either for themselves or someone they care about and also offers workshops and professionals’ training, free of charge
  • Gambling and mental health webinar (external link) - Bringing together a panel of experts to discuss mental health problems and online gambling and the way people are being supported.

Are you affected by someone else’s gambling?

When someone you care about is gambling too much, it can be a very stressful situation and helping them can be tricky. They need to know how their behaviour is affecting you.

For support and advice on what you can do and the services available, visit:

  • GamAnon (external link) - Local support groups for anyone affected by someone else's gambling problem.
  • GamCare (external link) - Offers support and information for partners, friends and family of people who gamble compulsively.

David's story

It all started with a big win at the races for David Smith who found himself addicted to gambling. He bravely told us about the impact it had on his life and how he managed to beat his addiction.

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