Lad lost chunks of hair and developed skin condition through stress of gambling
To encourage those experiencing gambling harms to start talking about their situation, GambleAware has launched a national public health campaign to challenge negative perceptions.
Jack was brave enough to speak out about the harms he has suffered through gambling and whilst there may have been some stigma around gambling harms, more people are talking about their gambling and speaking out when they feel it is getting too much. Here is Jack’s story.
Jack recalls that his first experience of gambling was when he was really young and he would bet on the horses with his grandad. 20p or sometimes even grapes used to be the currency as it was ‘just a bit of fun’. Growing up he would go to social clubs and watch his cousins play on the fruit machines and he was immediately drawn in to them, he would watch them all night and become slightly obsessed with them.
During Jack’s fight with his gambling, he was completing an apprenticeship and wasn’t earning a lot and ultimately was struggling financially. The struggle continued when he lost his whole month’s salary in one go.
“The first time I lost a lot of money it was despair, you feel like the world is crumbling down on you. You feel sick, anxious and I was embarrassed,” said Jack.
The stress of Jack’s gambling harms got so severe that he developed the skin condition psoriasis which he still suffers with five years later. He also discovered he had alopecia from the stress. Patches of hair would fall out of his head and he would just lie about the reasoning behind it, rather than talking to someone.
“I didn’t look well, I was hiding myself away, going out drinking too much and then obviously adding in the gambling,” he added.
“I was ducking and diving, lying to people about where I got the money from.”
Three weeks before Jack had his last bet, he was in debt and said that if he could win enough money through gambling to cover the debt, he would stop gambling and never bet again. He won enough money to clear the debt and was looking forward to a fresh start.
However, he broke his promise and continued to gamble. Before he knew it, a few weeks later he was in three times as much debt as he previously was. Jack then admitted he had lost control over his gambling and had a problem.
Jack went to Gamblers Anonymous meetings and they pointed him in the right direction to put the practical steps in place such as financial help and reducing access to money.
“To know there were other people out there with the same problem that were doing something about it and were succeeding, it was a great feeling,” he remarked.
“To know that there is a life after gambling and quite a good one, is nice.”
GambleAware wants to break the stigma around speaking about gambling harms and offers free advice, tools and support for anyone who is worried about their gambling. Search GambleAware to find out more and let’s open up about gambling.
Featured Image Credit: LADbible