Problem Gamblers Get More NHS Clinics
UK’s NHS to Expand Gambling Treatment Centres
This week it was announced the NHS is to open 7 more gambling clinics nearly doubling England’s total to 15 treatment centres for problem gamblers. Gambling is a cruel occupation financially – just a few hours indiscipline and loss of self control can lead to consequences that will take years to resolve although in most cases the financial damage is gradual and snowballs until the addicted gambler has no further access to funds. Sadly, that is the crisis point many will reach before they take action and reach out to the services provided by the NHS, carrying emotions such as anger, guilt, sadness and fatalism regarding their lives.
Treatment of Problem Gamblers
Treatment is no magic bullet and can be quite arduous and complex as it’s a psychological addiction. There can be underlying mental health issues partly behind a patient’s problem gambling, stress, perceived lack of enjoyment of general life, childhood influences from family gamblers etc. For many it’s simple escapism from the toil of daily life where the patient doesn’t feel they have fulfillment. The clinics need to isolate and identify the underlying reasons and treat accordingly as this is the first step to changing the pattern of harmful behaviours of the problem gambler.
Two Basic Questions?
The bottom line is: “Why do you gamble?” (see a few of the possible reasons above) and “Why can’t you stop gambling?” of which there are many answers possible. The mindset of a problem gambler in serious debt, which sadly most are, plays a big role in future decision making. The logic tends to be that if the gambler stops playing and concentrates on their finances, they see just years of repayment ahead of them with no holidays, new purchases or very little socialising while this occurs. So they will often regard stopping as pointless and excuse that logic by the fact the future is now bleak and will offer little enjoyment. Therefore, they may as well continue to get what little pleasure they do from gambling, as a debt that will take 3 years to pay off will simply increase to 4 years so what difference does it make to me right now?
As said earlier, the financial break-point decision tends to be forced upon the problem gambler at the time where their means to gamble have evaporated.
Logic or Lack Thereof
Gambling is designed, in every aspect or type, to make you lose money. It’s called among other things ‘the house edge’ which is 1-2% on blackjack say, 3% on roulette, 3-8%+ on slots and betting and an incredible 50% on the lottery. If you do find a way to beat the system (i.e. card-counting in blackjack or only betting on horses you have inside information on and therefore getting and staying well ahead) you’ll be very quickly barred from the casino or refused bets by the bookmakers.
Psychology of Gambling
The psychology here is the feel-good factor when you do win and the sense of unearned free money, that you are smart and have beaten the system. Yes, you did on that occasion and every gambler does some days. If you accept that was straightforward luck and you’ll likely lose next time, than all’s good and you will make judgements accordingly. It’s then a bit of fun.
Unfortunately, for some the thrill of this unearned money can quickly induce them into having a belief that they are smarter than the system, that they can live from it, stay ahead of it.
This delusion is highly dangerous and by the time this becomes apparent, the damage is done and you have a problem gambler. The endorphins, the adrenaline kick of gambling now takes control. At this point, the gambler never wins, even when he does. In other words, the monetary gain from a successful session is meaningless in terms of maybe treating themselves, buying something or paying debt down. The monetary gain is nothing more than satisfying the means to continue gambling until it’s lost again. The function of money to the problem gambler doesn’t have the same definition it would for a normal consumer.
These NHS England facilities will save lives. They will save relationships. They won’t be successful alas with every patient, the same as every medical treatment. But they will be extremely benefical to many and I’m pleased to see the NHS has reacted to the increase in problem gambling and recognised the impact.
There is a video underneath from a channel where ‘Phil’ has vlogged about his stopping gambling, the problems he had and the way he changed his decision-making. It provides a great insight into the process of quitting.