A friend of mine hit a milestone yesterday, it has been exactly 12 months since he stepped foot in a bookies, and 12 months since he gambled. Period. Making use of the help from GamCare, he used the self exclusion service offered by all gambling venues, and has since made a pretty decent recovery.
There are times when the compulsion nearly takes over him, but his will power has allowed him to not fall back into his old ways and compulsively gamble everything away. He does admit, gambling isn’t evil but does stipulate that for some people, the addiction can be not only soul destroying but life destroying. At his lowest ebb, he was taking out high interest pay day loans and using those to get his fix.
Furthermore, he was borrowing money from friends and family, while at the same time not paying bills and getting into arrears with his rent. It all came to a head when the bailiffs turned up at the door and literally emptied his already poorly furnished flat.
Although he’s unsure as to where, when and how it all began, he does think that after serving in the military, something in broke, and as an escape, he turned to gambling, which is common for ex military personnel to do once they leave. Be that alcohol, gambling or harder drugs, just something to help them escape.
The road to recovery is always a long and winding road, but one that can be tread upon, however, it’s time that the industries started to work together to ensure that problem gamblers/drinkers/whatever are either given the option of self exclusion, and it’s made common knowledge among nearby venues, so they can enforce the same, or having more prominent literature around for people that do think they have a problem, and need to talk to someone about it.
At the end of the day, in my friend’s case, it’s pointless himself excluding from William Hill, when the Ladbrokes 2 doors down are going to let him fritter everything away. Same with pubs. Having an alcoholic self exclude from The Hare and Hounds is only going to be effective if The Queens Head down the street and The Ram on the other side of the street are aware of the situation, and no not to serve alcohol to that person because they’ve self excluded.
It’s not too difficult, and all it takes is a few phone calls, simply giving people the heads up that someone wants to self exclude for a certain period, or indefinitely, especially when it comes to the chains like Ladbrokes and William Hill, who in my home city alone, have at least 5 shops each within walking distance of each other.
On a brighter note however, my friend, who I’m not naming has managed to start cleaning up his own mess, and is far happier because with each debt he gradually chips away at, his compulsion to gamble lessens as he sees these accomplishments as far more worth it, than spending that afternoon on a Fixed Odds Betting Terminal.