Published on 21st September 2016 in Alloa Advertiser
SOBER Services is highlighting the reality of gambling addiction following the BBC Panorama investigation into fixed odds betting terminals. The organisation aims to help individuals attain and maintain permanent recovery from a range of addictions and is offering support in facing the problem with the right treatment. Jonathan Edgeley, addiction consultant with Sober Services, said: “Often living dual lives, gambling addicts may appear on the outside ‘together’ holding down jobs, seen as pillars of society, have families and often come from professional backgrounds. “This is a charade, unfortunately, for those that are addicted to gambling their lives are controlled by the obsession to gamble and the compulsion to keep going even when all the chips are down.
“They become completely preoccupied with gambling and even when they are not gambling they are thinking about the next time they will be.
“The reality of gambling addiction is one of crippling financial devastation and mental crisis; many addicts will find themselves in a downward spiral of uncontrollable debt.
“Maxed out credit cards, remortgaging of the family home and unsecured loans are at the top of the list.”
Jonathan says a fifth of UK problem gamblers have reported debts of £20,000 and even £100,000.
People can become addicted to activities, not just substances, with scientists discovering that compulsive gamblers experience the same changes in the brain as those who get addicted to drugs.
While it is not the only chemical at work, dopamine plays a big role in fuelling addictions – whether it is a controlled substance, alcohol or gambling – as people will crave the high the neurotransmitter naturally brings.
With a Westminster inquiry now launched into the issue, it is hoped that the £100 maximum stake per spin will be lowered to as little as £2. But Jonathan believes it will not make the problem go away as it would not curb online gambling platforms.
He added: “The problem is that those who are addicted to gambling will be in either a state of absolute denial of their situation even though they’ve spent the mortgage money and have missed the car payment for the third month on the bounce.
“Or, they will want to stop, however the guilt and shame they associate with their addiction could be preventing them [from doing] so.”
Gamblers Anonymous Scotland is also available for support on 0370 050 8881 or visit gascotland.org.