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Gambling Debt Help & Advice

Mainstream gambling debt

Gambling is very common. Around half of UK adults reported having gambled in the last four weeks according to research by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The report found that 53% of men, and 44% of women have gambled in the last month. Between 275,000 and 370,000 people in the UK identify themselves as problem gamblers, so if you have been struggling to stay in control of a gambling habit you are far from alone.

some experts worry that excessive gambling is being normalised in some areas of life – especially sports. The BBC found earlier this month that 95% of ad breaks during live UK football matches featured adverts for betting firms. These adverts can usually only be shown after the nine pm water-shed, to avoid showing them children, but live sports broadcasts are an exception to the rule. With this barrage of promotion, it is unsurprising that gambling continues to pose a problem.

How Gambling can affect your Life

Everyone who struggles with problem gambling will have a different response, but there are a number of ways that problem gambling can impact upon a person’s life.

Personal Finances

Understandably, a person who struggles with compulsive gambling is likely to experience financial difficulties. These difficulties could manifest as anything from being forced to cut back on non-essential spending to being left without the funds for essential bills. In many cases, problem gambling can lead to problem debt, as gamblers fund their habit with overdrafts, credit cards, or payday loans. A problem gambler might be tempted to gamble even more in an effort to pay off these debts, which can lead to a vicious cycle.

Mental Health

Unsurprisingly, the extreme lows and highs of problem gambling can have a profound effect on a person’s mental health. The Royal College of Psychiatrists have linked problems with gambling to low self-esteem, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, and even depression. In some cases, people who already suffer with mental ill-health use gambling as a distraction, which tends to exacerbate rather than improve the problem. Gambling, like any addiction, can also cause an individual to lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed, pushing them to spend even more time gambling.

Relationships

The financial strain that problem gambling can cause has the potential to lead to arguments between partners, which may have the side-effect of discouraging openly discussing the problem. The compulsive need to gamble can also lead to spending more time gambling, and less time with friends, family, or their partner. Problem gambling can equally have an effect on professional relationships and, by extension, a person’s career. The anxiety and loss of concentration which problem gambling can cause could reduce an individual’s productivity at work too.

Warning Signs

If you are experiencing a problem with gambling, the following signs are likely to be familiar:

  • Consistently spending more than you had planned on gambling
  • Prioritising spending on gambling over priority bills such as rent or utilities
  • Frequently using gambling as a distraction from problems in your life
  • Experiencing feelings of guilt or shame over your gambling
  • Using debt such as an overdraft, credit card, or payday loan to fund your gambling
  • Trying to pay off your debts through gambling
  • Noticing a deterioration in your mental health

Signs of problem gambling in friends, family, or partners can be easy to miss, but you are likely to recognise some of the following signs in a loved one who is struggling with problem gambling:

  • Their withdrawal from events with friends and family
  • Being secretive about their finances (if discussing them more openly is usual)
  • Having many loans or credit cards
  • Having unpaid bills
  • Seeming anxious or agitated without a clear reason
  • Reduced performance at work
  • A lack of food or other essentials in their home
  • If you live with someone experiencing problem gambling, money or valuable items may go missing in some cases

If you are still unsure whether you are struggling with problem gambling, the gambling charity Gamcare’s has a helpful self-assessment test which can reveal whether you might need some support to get your gambling under control.

How to get Help

Problem gambling can be debilitating, and everyone will tackle it differently. Below are some steps you can take if you think you may be struggling to keep your gambling under control.

  • Make small personal changes – Notice any patterns in your gambling and try to adjust your lifestyle accordingly. For example, you might be able to avoid places which tempt you to gamble.
  • Practice Self-exclusion – Betting shops should allow patrons to exclude themselves. This means that staff will refuse to serve you hence preventing you from gambling. Online gambling services usually offer a similar function.
  • Open up – Simply getting things off your chest with a trusted friend or family member can help you to feel supported to address the problem.
  • Speak to a Professional – You can get confidential advice through services such as Gamcare’s helpline. They can also provide counselling to help you get to the root of the problem and overcome it.
  • Find a Support Network – Help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can provide a mutually supportive environment in which to discuss issues, and find friendly advice about the steps you can take to overcome them.
  • Get Help to clear your Gambling Debts – All unsecured debts can be included in debt solutions such as IVAs and Trust Deeds. Writing off debts accrued by gambling can be a great motivator to keep such problems in the past. Before entering a debt solution like this though, you will need to prove that you are resolving your gambling problem.

Gambling debt can have a huge impact on your life, but Creditfix’s non-judgemental experts will help you to find the right solution, no matter the cause of your debt.

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