Stigma and discrimination feed each other. This is because when you blame and devalue the people harmed by gambling, it leads to and justifies discrimination. People harmed by gambling are not given the same protections or services as others because they are not seen as worthwhile. Then, discrimination keeps stigma going, as people in society come to think this is how people harmed by gambling should be treated.
Stigma and discrimination are a cause of gambling harm because they mean there are not the protections and services in place for people to stop harm happening in the first place.
Stigma and discrimination are a harm people experience because of gambling. Shame, self-stigma, stigma and discrimination damage people’s self-worth, health, and life opportunities.
And they make the other harms from gambling worse. They stop people understanding they are having gambling difficulties and getting help, so the addiction and harm carry on. The way people are treated in places like health services, criminal justice or financial services adds to the harm people are experiencing rather than helping.
People have said that they want others with gambling difficulties to know how important it is to reach out and get help. They said if they had gotten help earlier, they would not have experienced as much harm. They have said it is important for people with lived experience of gambling harm to speak out and to be listened to, as they know what is actually going on.
But they have also said it is important not to put all the responsibility onto people harmed by gambling to get help and speak out. There must be a change in how the gambling companies behave and how the government regulates gambling companies. There need to be changes in the government policy and how organisations and services address gambling harm in areas like health, education, criminal justice, work, benefits, and financial services.
Otherwise, it will be like another version of ‘responsible gambling’ were the individual is expected to do everything. The individual should not be left alone to suffer this burden and shoulder all the responsibility.
Because unless you’ve got a hold on it, it will get bigger and badder. And if you’re betting stupid amounts of money now, the sooner you stop and the sooner you speak to someone about it, then the more help you can get. And I think don’t get to the stage like I did with being that amount in debt and not reaching out to people because I could have took an easy path and I could have my life. I could have done that. I thought about it because I felt there was shame about what I was doing abut actually, when you do open up the speak people, they understand it and they’re there to help you. So, you know, stop as soon as you can and think about what it is your gambling, what you’re gambling on.
So, it’s become very much kind of it is the invisible addiction. We need to talk about it. And more people with lived experience need to come forward, I think. We need to be utilizing those people, maybe in banks, maybe in governments or whatever it is, just to sort of advice and help from all sectors, you know, young people, older people, affected others as well.
I still feel the stigma related to gambling so I keep it close to myself what I went through, because shame is a normal feeling for a gambler. The more that it is spoken about by the likes of me, can only be positive. That’s where the stigma needs to end because gambling kills people.
I just think if more people talk about the whole process, it will help people. It’s an ongoing thing. Recovery’s forever. If I lived till I’m 40, then I’ve got nine years of recovery, and if I lived till I’m 80, then I’ve got 39 years of recovery. Recovery is forever. I think need to understand that a bit more that recovery can take time and go a lot of different ways throughout it. There will be hard times, there will be better times, but it is forever.