Drink and Drug news’ this month has a great article on the funding (or lack of) for services to help problem gamblers. Did you know there is NO NHS provision for this? It is entirely funded by the third sector; mainly by the gambling industry?  Check it all out on drinkanddrugnews.com .

For the last year I have been working 2 days a week for a third sector organisation providing a counseling service in partnership with Gamcare. With many years experience using Motivational interviewing and CBT to help people with the substance addictions I’ve enjoyed using these skills in a new context.

What’s different?

  • At the moment we mainly see people who have chosen to come albeit under some informal duress

  • The most common major harm we see caused by gambling is financial and its’ consequences for relationships/families rather than health or criminal justice issues

  • There are no medications available to help recovery

  • Withdrawal symptoms are not life threatening although there is a very high suicide risk to be aware of

  • If they come at all people turn up sober/straight for appointments

  • It is possible to self-exclude (ask/demand not to be allowed in) from  gambling venues and you can’t do this from licensed alcohol premises or from your drug dealer

What’s similar?

  • Big overlaps with other addictions and with mental health problems (which may be either cause or effect;( I gamble because I am lonely/depressed or I am lonely/depressed because all I do is sit on my own and gamble)

  • Stigma and shame

  • Recreational use becoming dependence over time for vulnerable people

  • A way of coping becomes yet another thing to cope with

  • Good and bad things about gambling leading to ambivalence about change

  • Need to support families too

  • A change is the way people think is important

From now on I shall be including gambling examples in my courses and make the training relevant to practitioners in this field.