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Gambling harms - what are they?

They are the negative effects gambling can have on someone you care about. They can affect any and every aspect of their life, including health, mental health, money, relationships, education or work. They can also affect the people around the person who’s gambling, like you.

You might be a loved one or close to someone harmed by gambling and feeling the effects.

It’s important to know it’s not their fault or yours. The gambling industry has designed addictive products that make people want to gamble and keep gambling.

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There are many impacts

Knowing what to look for can be a helpful first step in protecting a loved one. Some include:

  • Feeling anxious, down or depressed

  • Being stressed or irritable

  • Not sleeping well

  • Having thoughts of suicide

  • Previous suicide attempts

  • Gambling or thinking about gambling often

  • Not being able to stop gambling, despite wanting to

  • Feeling disconnected from people and situations

  • Not focusing on relationships

  • Being changeable, where your mood goes up and down

  • Being short of money

It is important to be aware that gambling is highly correlated with suicide, and is linked to up to 10% of suicides in the UK.

Anyone can be affected

From business owners to new mums, to young people and the elderly. Whatever their faith or background, anyone is at risk. But the younger someone is when they start gambling on the more dangerous forms of gambling, the more likely it is that harm will be caused – the brain is more flexible and vulnerable until the age of 25.

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    Some gambling is more dangerous

    Some forms of gambling are more likely to bring about addiction and harm. This can depend on the structural characteristics of a product, its design features, and the environment it’s played in and its accessibility. These factors impact addiction developing in the brain.

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    Gambling affects the brain

    Some gambling products have a faster and greater impact on the brain than others, which leads to negative consequences. The strongest indicators of whether someone is likely to be harmed by gambling are which gambling products they’re being sold, and how often they’re using them.

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    Help and support is available

    Find out more here about the things you can do and the help and support available including accessing NHS services.

Are you or someone you care about affected?

If you answer yes to any of the questions below, your loved one could be experiencing gambling harms. Be assured, there’s help available that works.

  • Do they seem worried or anxious? Are they having thoughts of suicide? Are they not sleeping well? Do they seem disconnected from life or have a short attention span?

  • Are they borrowing money regularly or being secretive about money? Could they be having money struggles, be in debt or even bankrupt?

  • Have some of their relationships with important people in their life changed or become strained, even broken down? Is trust being affected?

  • Is their work or education affected? Are they losing concentration or making mistakes?  Are they missing days off work, lessons, or lectures?

Find out more here about what you can do and the help and support available

For many months I'd experienced changes to [my partner’s] behaviour (moods, anger, being disconnected and distant), when he'd always been so loving and caring. At that time I was naive to believe it as I'd never experienced or knew about the impact of gambling addiction on someone.
Laura, partner of someone in recovery from a gambling addiction