If you are suffering from gambling harms or affected by somebody else’s many issues may arise, differently for everybody but sharing common themes. Financial problems, mental health, criminal proceedings, unemployment, relationship and family breakdown to name a few. The first step – which many report was one of the hardest – is to seek support. This may be with a spouse or partner or trusted friend, or via a gambling support line (see the SUPPORT page); some may take the situation to their GP; some will find online forums or join a supprt group such as Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery. Some may do all of these things. In the early days simply opening up and seeking support is tremendously helpful and paople often support a sense of relief.
In a perfect world, an initial approach for support would be able to signpost you to the best pathways to other services which can deal with the several post-gambling issues you have to deal with. However good a treatment plan is for you, one that helps you begin reduce urges to gamble, you may still have considerable legacy burdens to carry such as those mentioned above. Some will have less to bear, some more. One issue that often arises is that a doctor, for instance, does not have the knowledge or understanding to ensure you receive the whole-person support you need; sometimes there are unclear pathways between support options. History suggests – by the voices of lived experience – that if you try such options as those above, especially for many becoming involved in some way with others in recovery, things get better and you find what’s best for you. And, of course, for many the available services, even just one of them, may be all you need.
One particularly useful port of call, even the first place for many, is Citizens Advice. In recent years their staff and volunteers have been trained to advise people and steer them to the most appropriate services for their individual needs. They also work in communities to raise awareness of gambling harms. Included in a news post on 31 August 2022 about their gambling-related services is:
Another key element of our service is providing advice to clients. People come into their local CAB office for advice on a range of topics and usually people need help with more than one issue. Our advisers provide holistic advice to people and equip them with the information they need to decide a way forward.
People who experience gambling harms may be unaware that they are affected, or they may know but are unlikely to disclose this to anyone, not even their family. A key part of our work is trying to normalise talking about gambling harms and reduce the shame and stigma that is associated with it. The more that we can raise awareness and train staff to understand the signs, the more people we can help by signposting or referring them onto specialist services who support people affected by gambling harms.
You can read the whole piece here.
In upcoming posts we’ll look at some of the issues arising from financial harms and gambling, particularly in the light of the cost of living crisis. By its nature, financial issues will also involve other burdens people may carry such as with respect to relationships, employment, mental health and the justice sytem.