Gambling addiction is a serious condition which can have harmful impacts on the sufferer and their loved ones. Despite this, it can be sometimes overlooked when considering addiction as a whole. There is no one size fits all solution, and treatment centres endeavour to match each individual with the personalised help they need.
Public Health England (PHE) has released a landmark report looking into the effects of gambling addiction. It covers financial harm, family issues, employment, and health problems. It also looked at the financial impact of gambling disorders across England as a whole.
The report tallies the total cost of gambling addiction to the taxpayer at £127 billion per year. According to figures released by the gambling commission in 2020, the gambling industry across the UK is worth around £14 billion.
What is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling Addiction is a disorder which affects a person’s impulse control. Sufferers struggle to moderate how often and how much they gamble, regardless of the negative impacts it is having on them and their loved ones.
This can take the form of betting on card games, horse or dog racing, or sports. One of the most common sources of gambling addiction is slot machines and other electronic gambling machines. These are often found in casinos and bars. The ease of use and proximity to alcohol may make these devices more harmful to those susceptible to gambling abuse.
Signs that a person may be struggling with their gambling include:
- spending more money than they can afford on gambling
- using gambling to try to get out of financial trouble
- hiding or lying about gambling
- feeling stressed or anxious
- neglecting family, work, and other responsibilities
Who is Most at Risk From Gambling Addiction?
Anyone can develop an unhealthy relationship with gambling. However, the report did find certain factors that affected rates of addiction.
The review found greater levels of gambling addiction in areas of higher deprivation, such as the North of England. Of the seven dedicated NHS gambling addiction clinics, only two are in the South of England. A new NHS clinic opened in Southampton in May 2022, while London already has one NHS treatment centre.
Alcohol use was another major factor. As much as 74.4% of those consuming over 50 units of alcohol a week take part in gambling. Only 35.4% of non-drinkers also gamble.
Gender and other genetic factors could also play a part. Men are 4.2 times more likely than women to gamble at harmful levels.
These risk factors are all complex, and the review stresses that we cannot say for certain what causes gambling addictions. However, we can still get a useful understanding of roughly where and how these addictions may develop.
Gambling and Mental Health
Mental health issues also play a huge part in gambling addictions. As with alcohol and substance abuse, there is a link between gambling addiction and mental health conditions
People who struggle to control their gambling may feel out of control. This is made worse by the financial and social problems it can cause. Feelings of shame and guilt are also common, as sufferers see the impact of their addiction on those around them. Depression is a serious risk for those with gambling disorders, and it can be hard to seek help while trying to keep it a secret.
The PHA report found those with mental health problems were twice as likely to take part in harmful gambling than those without.
The report goes further and establishes a link between gambling addiction and suicide. The study suggests that people with gambling problems are more likely to think about or attempt suicide. It shows that people suffering from a gambling disorder are at least twice as likely to die from suicide compared to the general population.
Minister of State for Care and Mental Health Gillian Keegan had this to say:
“Whilst the economic costs of harmful gambling are stark, the cost to individuals as a result of their addiction, and those around them, cannot be overstated…encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out – support is there for you.”
The Societal Impact of Gambling Disorders
With all these risk factors and personal impacts, what is the effect on society as a whole? According to this report, the financial impact of the harms associated with gambling in 2019 cost £1.27 billion in England alone. Free movie download and online watch movierulz
This figure includes many things. The cost of treatment programmes and gambling-related homelessness are all taken into account. The PHE report is also the first to attempt to include the financial cost of suicide when determining the impact of gambling disorders. According to the report, gambling-related suicide costs the country approximately £619.2 million a year.
These numbers may appear huge or even insensitive, but the conclusion is clear. Gambling addiction is a public health issue. Changing the perspective in it will allow more positive interventions to take place. This means better approaches to prevention and treatment for those suffering.
Rosanna O’Connor, Director of Alcohol, Drugs, Tobacco and Justice at PHE, said:
“The evidence is clear – harmful gambling is a public health issue and needs addressing on many fronts, with an emphasis on preventing these harms from occurring as well as with help readily accessible for those directly and indirectly affected by the wide-ranging and long-lasting negative impacts of gambling.”