Sadly, as much as it should be entertaining, gambling has turned into a genuine problem in England and Scotland. According to the survey completed by the Health Ministry in 2017, the problem has turned national with almost 2 million people estimated to have some kind of gambling problems. As compulsive gambling is difficult to change on your own, gamblers are directed to local organizations specialized gambling addiction that can help them. One good example is the international organization Gam-Anon that specializes in gambling addiction and can provide players around the world, including the UK, with the support they need to overcome this problem. 

The Gambling Reality in Scotland

According to the Scottish survey that covered 4,000 subjects, problematic gambling behaviour is a burning subject the Scottish public health sector, we well as policymakers in the industry. With 63 percent of respondents in Scotland having spent money on at least one type of gambling activity in the last year (46% of them focusing on non-lottery related gambling) and 12 percent having played online in the past 12 months at the time the survey was conducted, it is easy to see why Scotland was declared “Gambling Capital of Britain”

Professional Help Needed

Compulsive gambling can be interpreted in many ways. Basically, it is an illness that tends to progress over time and which is almost impossible to cure, but can be kept under control with the right help. Players simply cannot stop gambling and this is affecting every aspect of their life. If you or someone you know is facing such a problem at the moment, you probably have a lot of questions you need answered. As a friend or family member of a gambler at risk, your first step should be to get in contact with a local help center.

The Gam-Anon Programme Also in Paisley

The international Gam-Anon Programme has been designed with these exact questions in mind and they understand the importance of combining both local meetings with the option to get help online for those that live in remote areas. The programme is a fellowship of men and women who are close friends, relatives or husbands and wives of people who have been affected by compulsive gambling. The people there are dealing with the problem firsthand and they can provide great support using their personal experiences. They know how hurtful it is for a promise to be made and broken and what a sleepless night filled with despair looks like.

The Gam-Anon programme strives to provide problematic around the world with the solutions they need so they can live a normal life once again. It teaches patience and humility as well as how face old scenarios with the courage they need. The Way of Life programme will work differently for different people. This means the lives of affected gamblers and their close ones will be affected and changed at different paces and levels. It is a personal experience that should be lived fully in order to benefit from it.

Living With A Compulsive Gambler

Someone who has recently joined the programme will receive the full attention, complete understanding and support of the rest of the members. Problem gamblers will also be allowed to communicate with others about their problems. It is important never to interrogate someone you suspect is dealing with compulsive gambling.

It is important to know that living in a household with a compulsive gambler could lead to you experimenting some form of neurotic behaviour. The Twelve Steps of Recovery part of the Gam-Anon program will help prevent further difficulties, especially if the problem gambler hasn’t completely dropped his bad habits. Also, financial problems are directly tied to problem gambling. Having a Gam-Anon member talk about insurance, savings and bank accounts is a must. Patience is again needed to gradually take care of all financial issues that might have risen over the years.

The programme offers a new way of life to new members, provided they are willing to work the Steps of Recovery and the Unity Programme. It aims to help members change the easy they regard gambling problems and alleviate their anxiety. The programme also encourages members to frequently attend Gam-Anon meetings and get in touch with other members on a regular basis to return to a normal life as soon as possible, especially when slips backs occur. 

If you live in Paisley and want to get in contact with GamAnon they currently meet every 2nd Tuesday at the Ralston Community Center or call the Helpline number 0370 050 8881

Early Signs To Take Seriously

It can be difficult to understand that someone you know may be dealing with a risky gambling behaviour, as most people in this situation will manage to hide the early signs. Early signs are often subtle and family, friends or coworkers usually are left with a “feeling” of something not being right. Recognizing these very early signs is essential to prevent the severe consequences that follows a gambling addiction. 

Here are a few examples of warning signs to take serious; 

  • You “catch” your friend trying to hide his phone or close down the computer screen when you get close
  • You see advertisements for online casinos or betting sites like those here, showing up on your shared computer, mobile phone or email account while your friend denies to gamble online
  • You have a feeling there are more arguments in the family/workplace, not necessarily around gambling or finances
  • You feel your friend/partner is often distracted or absence or is “disappearing” a lot
  • You are hit with financial surprises like bills being delayed or unable to explain certain transactions
  • You notice your friend suffers from sudden or increased sleep issues
  • You see signs of your partner having problems at work, like not meeting deadlines, not completing tasks, arriving late, being absent etc.
  • You have a general feeling your partner or friend is hiding something
  • If you know your friend is gambling but suddenly hear him saying he will “just win back what he lost” then he will stop

These are just a few of many early signs of someone who might be in the risk zone of gambling problems. By talking to a professional from the Gamblers Anonymous Scotland you will be able to further assess the situation and support your friend at an early stage. Don’t wait!