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When gambling becomes a problem; MIND MATTER OVER WITH DR ELLIE MILBY.

Byline: WITH DR ELLIE MILBY

I SAW a man in therapy a few years ago who had won more than PS700,000 playing online poker.

Sounds pretty great, doesn't it? You might wonder why someone with that kind of money and good fortune needed therapy.

Well, due to a gambling addiction, this client subsequently gambled away his winnings, racked up thousands of pounds-worth of debt, lost his house and his marriage and developed severe depression.

For most people, gambling involves placing the odd bet on major sporting events or buying a weekly Lottery ticket. However, for some, as my client's story highlights, gambling can become a big problem with very serious consequences.

It's estimated that around 350,000 people in the UK are addicted to gambling and this figure is on the rise. The economic downturn and online betting forums, which make it easier than ever to gamble 24 hours a day, are thought to be two key factors in the increase in problem gambling in recent years.

There are many reasons why gambling may become problematic.

Some people get hooked on the excitement of gambling, some use gambling as a way to fill an emotional void, while others turn to gambling out of desperation in difficult financial situations.

Psychological factors often also play role in problem gambling. Near-misses - the experience of coming tantalisingly close to winning the jackpot, but not actually winning - are common in many forms of gambling.

For example, if the horse you bet on comes in second or you miss one number in a game of bingo. Studies have shown that gamblers have a tendency to misinterpret nearmisses as evidence that they are becoming more skilled at the game they are playing, when, in fact, it may be purely down to chance.

Unfortunately, very few people with a gambling problem seek and access help. There is help available, including Gamblers Anonymous, which follows the 12 steps approach, gambling support groups and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy.

If you or someone you care about is affected by problem gambling, visit the GamCare website at gamcare.org.uk for free information, support and advice or call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133. | Dr Ellie Milby is a counselling psychologist

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The odd flutter can be fun - unless it becomes an obsession for you

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 11, 2018
Words:390
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