Messages for people experiencing gambling difficulties

People want to share their messages for people who may be going through something similar to what they have.

People stress the importance of being aware of when you are starting to experience difficulties, such as spending more money and time gambling. Because gambling is so easy to hide, other people may not notice when you are struggling. People have said that it is only once they accept that they are experiencing difficulties and realise that they do not have to go through it alone, that they are able to start their recovery journey.

If you think there’s an issue, there probably is one. If you think you need to talk about it, then you do. There’s so many other people going through the exact same thing. You think you’re alone when you’re gambling. You think everyone else around you’s got control and you haven’t. It’s okay to admit you don’t have control over something. You can get control over it. However much money you’ve lost at this point, you’ll get it back in the future and more but not through gambling. It’s got to come from getting well first and then the money comes back. The main thing is just focusing on getting well, getting help, and just accepting help is the main one and just talking. I don’t have some big profound thing I can say that it’s just talking. Bottling things up is what makes things spiral. At the end of it, you think that’s the end of your world and it’s not. There’s tomorrow to live. Tomorrow’s always going to be a better day than today, but you just got get through to that day. You’ve got to make the most of your future. It’s never the end. There’s always possibilities there.


Just talk about it and acknowledge it because it’s easy to hide it. It’s really easy to hide it because if you gamble during the night, no one’s going to know. I think it gets to the point where it’s gone too far before you realize that it’s gone too far because it doesn’t affect your body as such. It doesn’t show to other people. You’re still the same person, but you’ve got so much going on in your head when you’re thinking about gambling and knowing that you should stop and then the financial side of things and then how it impacts your family unit at home.

You can talk to people till you’re blue in the face, and until that person acknowledges that they’ve got a gambling problem, anything that you say to them will just go completely over their head. People used to accuse me of having a gambling problem, and I used to say, “I haven’t got a problem.” They said, “Well, pack it in.” I said, “I can pack it in when I want.” They said, “Well, pack it in.” “But I don’t want to.” The sooner people realize that they do have a gambling problem, the sooner that they can do something about it.

Many people emphasise how important it is to tell someone what is happening and ask for help. They know how hard it is, but nobody regretted making that first step. They want to encourage others to speak to someone they trust early on. They want people to know that they are not alone and that there are safe spaces out there, where they can talk about their gambling with other people who will not judge them.

The biggest thing I would say to anyone experiencing it is reach out and get help… It’s scary. It’s daunting because there are so many ways in why you’re using gambling, whether that’s to escape from something, whether it’s blocking out emotions, feelings or whether it’s enjoyable and it just got out of control. Whatever the reason, a life without gambling is better than what you’re doing and facing up to problems and fears. Once you take the gambling away, life becomes more manageable. Life is better after gambling, and it was the best decision I ever did was to reach out and get help.

I think you’ll find that first conversation you have with someone on opening up can sometimes be the most powerful and life-changing, one of the most life changing experiences you could ever have. If you are ready to admit you have a gambling problem, that’s a huge thing to admit to yourself and to others that you’ve got a problem. A lot of people don’t, like I said, some people get dragged into GA and that kind of stuff. So just… Again, this is why we’re trying to tackle the stigma. Find someone you trust and respect who are not going to judge you to have that safe conversation saying I’ve got this problem and I need help and that can be powerful. And yeah, so I always tell them to seek help and to look for it because it is out there.


For some reason, my life is complete in a way that it hasn’t been for as long as I can remember. I don’t wish I hadn’t tried to kill myself, but I just wish that everyone who had been or has been or is in the state that I was in, would have the good fortune to meet someone, whoever that someone is to help them. The only other piece of advice… The hardest thing to do is to ask someone to help you. It’s the hardest thing in my life, even now. The second hardest thing is to listen to someone who is trying to help you. I mean really listen and really hear. Because I don’t deny that one of my worst personality traits is that I am or was arrogant in terms of being an arrogant male, but also in terms of believing that everything in my life was under control as long as it was happening to me. I was dealing with it, which I wasn’t. Listening to people is nearly as important as asking people to help you though.

Steve #2

I think, like we say when we’re going to the meetings, I think if you’re really struggling, I think the first thing you need to do is– I suppose it can work either way, but accept that you’ve got a problem first of all, and that you need help. Second of all, be open and honest with the people that you trust, whether that be your partner, whether that be your best friend, even someone at work. I know some people are close to people at work, others aren’t, but anyone at all. I know, obviously, people are very scared of being judged, but if you’re close to that person, if you feel as close to that person as you feel in your heart, then you shouldn’t have a problem explaining anything to them, and just get help as quick as you can. There’s plenty out there. I didn’t realize how much there was out there until I did a bit of research for myself. Obviously, I used Google, and you’ve got GambleAware, Gamban, GamLEARN, there’s stuff out there for families. I think in hindsight, if I knew what I did back then, then I wouldn’t be where I am now, if you know what I mean. I feel like I had to do it myself to be here now, so I’m just glad that obviously, everything’s happening and stuff like that.


That they’re not alone. Certainly. Well, I would certainly let them know that they have a safe place to talk where there’s no judgment, you know, hey, there’s no judgment here. And, you know, that there is a way through, really. Not everyone wants to stop straight away. It’s hard to, so hard to just stop. You have to keep, you get to a point where you actually, well, I know I did for me, you know, it was just like it was going and going and going, and it was just like, you finally got stuck in the mud. It wasn’t giving anymore. It’s like the car slowing down and not giving you that last bit of sort of juice as it were of the engine. It will grind you down and you’ll either end up killing yourself or you’ll just come to that reality or realisation that you have reached the end. So yeah, not everyone will stop immediately. But there is, you know, obviously we know how to control it. There are ways to control it. We know that there are the stops that can be put on. Going cold turkey is the hardest thing in any addiction. You can be severe yourself or, you know, you can sort of take a softer route, but whichever way you have to be prepared for that, for the ultimate fallout that it’s going to cause, because it will cause more damage to continue. I’d just initially would offer them a safe space to talk, and I’d let them know that, you know, they’re not judged and they’re not alone because, you know, as many, as many of us have come here before.


You do not have to do it on your own. There are different options available that can support you in your recovery. They suggest trying different treatment or support services to find out what works for you. They also advise putting in place all the barriers you can to stop being able to gamble.

Don’t do it on your own. I near enough did it on my own. I’ve seen the value of groups, of treatment groups, of recovery groups, and it’s not for everybody. There are lots of people out there with lived experience that are always happy to listen. In not even a formal capacity. Social media’s good, it can be a bit hectic on there sometimes, but it’s that thing of reach out and you can do it anonymously. We recognize that people are not ready to put their name to something and that’s okay. Just you have choice. There is quite a few things out there now, and just try, just try all you can do, and get hold of your recovery, and give it all you’ve got.

I think some people come into recovery and go, what are you going to do for me? You’re going to make me better. That isn’t the right way of looking at things. It’s what can I get out of you? How can I make myself better? Not to make it all feel like it’s all on your shoulders. There’s lots of people out there who offer support, but it is that thing of wanting things to be different.


I would encourage anybody to access absolutely everything. National Gambling Helpline, counselling, Gamblers Anonymous, make use of all the GamStop, GamBan, all these different self-exclusion things. There’s different things. It’s difficult in person because obviously you know your self-exclusion is only as good as the staff member, you know, and it’s not often – they can’t be expected to remember everybody. But put as many barriers as you can in place. You know, if you speak, speak to people, friends, to family, if you’re comfortable doing that.

Find the best help that suits you. There’s plenty of opportunity to get the help. There’re organizations that will give you one-to-ones on a weekly basis, there’s residential treatment programmes, if you can go into them, all there waiting to help you out. There is life after gambling. There is ways that you can stop gambling, but you’ve got to have it in your heart, and you’ve got to be in the right space at the right time… My life’s so much better now I can seek help. Get the help you deserve because gambling will only ruin you.

People have said you have to allow time for acceptance and healing.

If you’ve been found out or for whatever reason if you’ve been noticed before you get there, be kind to yourself, let people be kind to you. You’ve got to listen as much as you can be kind and realize that it isn’t just you. It’s difficult to be objective about it, when you are in that moment, when you’re in that eye of the storm because I know what it was like and I know now, and some of my very closest friends, I’m very lucky to still have them. We can joke about and say, “I used to ask you once a month, ‘are you sure you can afford this? You seem to be gambling more.'” They had no idea what I was doing in terms of what I really was doing. That was only on the surface, but I was already in so much trouble then. That didn’t matter because I just wanted to be able to do what I was doing. The main things I would think would be to be kind to yourself, listen, and as easy as it is to say, is to slow down, I suppose.


What I would say, was you are not a bad person, you’re just someone that’s unwell. You need to draw a line under everything that’s happened before. You’re never going to get the money back. That money is never going to come back to you. The only thing you can do is try and move on from that.

People highlight that there is hope out there. They know it is hard to stop gambling, but life will change for the better when you do. They want people to know there is life after gambling.

I just say, reach out, help, there is help out there, speak to somebody, be honest. Don’t just go and pay lip service. Don’t say you’re okay. Don’t say nobody understands because there are people that understand. You know, you can pick up the phone. I know it’s more difficult probably to go to meetings. I don’t know what the meetings situation is. It’s probably improved in the last few months, but you know, there are meetings out there that you can go sit in a room where people with shared experiences can encourage you. You know, this doesn’t have to be the end. You know, there is a life out there. I have got my life back and there is hope, there is hope.

Nick #2

The word I use a lot is hope. There is hope out there. There is hope that you can get away from the unrelenting nature of the compulsion. It’s by no means an easy road. But for your own health, for your family’s health, for anyone that’s related to you or has contact with you, for your mental health, accessing the support as early as possible is crucial. If you feel like it might be starting to become a problem, it already is a problem. So, get the support before it’s too late


People also provide messages for the public. They want them to know that if someone is experiencing difficulties with their gambling, they are not a “bad person”. Gambling is addictive. No one sets out to become addicted to gambling. It could happen to anyone. 

I think it’s really important to break the stigma around it because people are scared to talk to me because people don’t understand. And that’s what they have to do to beat this. If you’re having a problem you have to talk to people about it, and because of the stigma, it really scares people into talking to people about it. And yeah, so I think it’s vitally important if we can make people realize that you know, if someone’s got a problem with gambling addiction, it’s not because they’re a bad person, they’re not evil or whatever. They’ve got a problem which they don’t want. They don’t want to have this problem. And believe me, they’re suffering. They’re not enjoying it. So, yeah, I mean, if people are more understanding about it, then people would be more free to open up and talk about it, and then it won’t get as out of hand. They can get the help they need sooner. It was probably a good 12, 15 years into my gambling before I even started to get help about it. The amount of pain that it’s caused to me and my family and those around me in those years is unbelievable. So, if it could be nipped in the bud in six months, a year or whatever, that’s a lot of pain that you’re saving people having to go through.


They have said not to believe everything that is written in the media or by the gambling industry, as these messages often create and encourage stigma. They suggest that people look for other sources of information and learn about the warning signs and harms gambling can cause. This will help change their perception of people experiencing gambling difficulties.

Don’t believe all the bad press that you read around gambling. Go and find and do some information and research for yourself. And support and campaign for change around gambling advertisements, gambling structures, gambling routines… I would say you’re probably never more than two steps away from a compulsive gambler and one of those could be in your family, so really educate and look at the signs and symptoms so you could be by doing that, helping somebody else.

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