Dating a compulsive gambler I went on to write a novel ‘Gambling Broke Us’ and this drew me to the shocking headlines splashed across British newspapers in recent months–Gambling On The Increase. But what help is out there for recovering gamblers and what is the success rate?
Gambling recovery programmes are woefully lacking and very patchy across the country and shockingly–given that there are well in excess of 400,000 compulsive gamblers in the UK–the NHS has only one specialist gambling clinic, which is in London. Around 15 problem gamblers are referred to the clinic every week, from around the country. The biggest problem is that by the time the clinic sees them they have lost their jobs, homes and relationships. They join a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy programme, talk about their problem and are given strategies to avoid temptation. Six months later about 60% of gamblers have managed to stay away from gambling. If there was a specialist clinic in every town think what progress could be made.
The clinic has been trialing a craving suppressant drug called naltrexone. Maybe this is the way forward but we all know how reluctant the NHS is to take on new drugs, given the cost involved. This drug is seen as a last resort treatment. If the clinic’s trial is successful she wants the NHS to fund a clinical trial.
Is this drug the new breakthrough to tackle this nasty illness that blights so many lives or is the problem much more complex? My gripping new novel “Gambling Broke Us”available on Amazon will give you a good insight into this terrible addiction.
Gambling is in the news again and because I’ve just published a novel about a gambler, I’m interested in what’s going on. From April 1st rules around gambling ads in the UK, including a ban on the use of young celebrities and sports stars, will become stricter, especially online. Gambling operators will also have to ensure that the majority of the audience of any social media influencers they work with are over 18. This is to protect children from irresponsible ads in the light of a recent study suggesting that 450,000 11 to 16-year-olds regularly gamble.
When I told people I was writing a novel about a compulsive gambler reaction was mixed. Most people tutted and said, ‘they only have themselves to blame.’ I found little sympathy for gamblers, most of us can’t understand why somebody would want to pour money down the drain leaving themselves unable to buy food or pay rent. Worse than that were the parents struggling with teenage gamblers. The pain was etched across their faces. These were friends of mine and I had no idea about what they were going through as parents. Flummoxed as to what to do, this made me more determined than ever to bring this problem to the forefront of peoples’ minds through my novel. Most people seem to have an alcoholic in their family or friendship circle, but do you know somebody with a gambling addiction? We all know somebody who likes a flutter, but until a couple of years ago, when I began dating a compulsive gambler, I can honestly say that I had never met a compulsive gambler. Maybe I’ve led a very sheltered life or just mixed in different circles, but it just wasn’t something I’d given much thought to, despite it being all around us. You only have to read about the shutdown of Britain’s racetracks due to equine flu to see the importance of horseracing to the betting industry, because the damage has run into millions. Gambling, whether we like it or not is important to the economy, but sadly it blights lives. But with just one NHS clinic in the UK for problem gambling and an archaic 12 step programme run through Gamblers Anonymous that hasn’t been revised in decades, there’s little hope of us tackling this growing problem any time soon.
I hope that my new novel stirs something inside you. The story is fictional but the addiction is not. The dreadful highs and lows experienced by problem gamblers is based on one man’s tangled and complex emotions, the guy I dated – emotions which are typical of gamblers.