Gambling addicts typically educated and middle class

Monday 5th October, 2009

The first NHS gambling centre has revealed white-collar males in their mid-30s as the typical patient receiving treatment for gambling addiction.

Research from the National Problem Gambling Clinic found addicts were typically educated and middle class and having to hold down one or two jobs to fuel their gambling problem. Many had developed the habit while studying at University.

The findings go against the usual sociological patterns of gambling addiction which tend to be among working class individuals. Money pressures caused by the financial crisis may have triggered the psychological problem as well as increasing the likelihood of people seeking help.

The audit of 260 patients found the average age of those seeking treatment was 36 and two thirds were in employment. Only 3 per cent were women.

Consultant psychiatrist Henrietta Bowden-Jones who set up the NHS first gambling clinic stated that overall the group of people seeking help were highly functioning individuals who are both skilled and trusted in their jobs. Their debts ranged from £2,000 to £500,000.

Dr Bowden-Jones emphasised the importance of NHS intervention as until now gambling addiction treatment could only be found within self-help groups, private clinics and charities.

Depression and anxiety among those seeking help was higher than expected at 93 per cent and 91 per cent respectively.

People signing up for the clinic from GP recommendation or self-referral receive nine weeks of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) to understand what triggers their addiction and discover ways to control spending and temptation.

Industry watchdog ‘The Gambling Commission’ estimates there are 250,000-300,000 problem gamblers in Britain.



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