For most people, thoughts automatically turn to chemical substances such as illegal drugs or alcohol upon hearing the term ‘addiction’; nonetheless, these days there is a growing number of individuals affected by gambling addiction. In fact, many young people are developing a problem gambling habit since this activity has become much more accessible in recent years.

The progression of the internet has meant that online gambling is now much easier and with almost everyone having access to a smartphone or mobile device, it is possible to gamble at any time of the day in complete secret.

Disposable Income

There is growing concern that more young people are developing gambling addictions. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that once they have left school and are at work or in university, they have more disposable income than ever before. While most will choose to blow their money on shopping trips, holidays or nights out with friends, there are many who are electing to spend their excess funds on gambling.

According to statistics, around eighty per cent of young people has gambled at least once, be it on a lottery ticket or backing a horse in the Grand National. However, some are developing worrying habits and are spending significant amounts of time gambling online from the comfort of home.

Reporting for The Mancunian, Emma Shanks spoke to a student who admitted to feeling the need to get his gambling habit under control, despite not believing he was ever in danger of developing a gambling addiction. He said, “Getting into the habit of trying to make up for your losses is easy to happen without clocking how much you’ve actually been spending.”

Secret Habit

In research carried out by ICM, figures show that one in seven young people living in the North West have lied about gambling to family members. One student said that although he never bet more than one or two pounds at one time, he felt that he needed to hide this activity from his mother, adding, “I know she doesn’t approve of it so she’d be constantly on my case if I told her.”

Studies also found that twenty-four per cent of those aged between eleven and fourteen were more likely to lie about gambling habits than smoking or drinking, which is concerning considering that gambling addiction is often referred to as a hidden or secret addiction. The reason for this is that there are no outward signs that someone is affected.

What’s more, gambling addiction has also been linked to problems with alcohol, mental health and crime. According to charity GambleAware, the organisation that funded treatment for 379 fifteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds in the North of England between 2015 and 2016, 44 per cent were in debt to some degree. Eight per cent of those owed more than £10,000, sixteen per cent had experienced relationship troubles, and six per cent had lost their jobs through redundancy.

Risk Perception

According to GambleAware’s director of commissioning, Dr Jane Rigbye, “Young people are most at risk of developing a gambling problem because they perceive risk and chance differently.”

She went on to say, “Parents need to be aware that for a significant minority it can become a serious and hidden problem. We want to get people talking about their gambling habits and prompt them to seek help before their actions become problematic.”

Miss Shanks also spoke to a former gambling addict whose habit began when he was a young adult. He said, “It started out at just one or two pounds a day and grew to 10 or 15. I won 700 once on an accumulator on 6/7 teams, and 500 from a fiver on F1. There were never really any big losses, maybe 40 or 50 was the biggest one. The problem wasn’t that I was putting large amounts on one bet, just small amounts on many. Not winning would have been a better solution”.

He added, “When you have a problem like that, you think you’re dealing with it, ban yourself from one website, and then you move on to the other. It was a big emotional strain when I borrowed money thinking I could pay the loans back. I’d have no money for next month’s bills and would continue gambling in the meantime. I lied to everybody because I was in quite a lot of debt. I’d get anxious whenever post turned up at our house that my wife was going to open it. I wouldn’t talk to my family about it because I knew they would say that it was the wrong thing to be doing, that I was wasting my money, and I just didn’t want to be told the truth.”

He said that his life had been affected by his gambling addiction because now his wife monitors everything and he cannot even take money from his account. He says he only has a small cash allowance of £20 every week in order to help him deal with his addictive tendencies.

Getting Help for a Gambling Addiction

If you are worried that you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction, contact us here at Liberty House Clinic. We have experience in dealing with all types of addiction and will tailor our programmes to suit you and your requirements. Call today for more information on how we can help.

Source: Students hedge their bets as gambling addictions grow (The Mancunion)