In this story: Gambling /

"It’s important to reduce stigma and recognise gambling as a serious and escalating problem for some people"

“I was introduced through friends to the bookie’s underage. The thing that appealed to me most was the machines, placing that first bet, getting a win and just feeling good.  Then feeling good ran on to become a form of escapism for me.

I kind of knew after a few weeks, after the first big win.  Everything just seemed to be going my way, and then it all changed.  Suddenly I was 21, owing money and I just spiralled out of control.  Before I knew it, I was in thousands of pounds worth of debt. I was taking out payday loans, credit cards, overdrafts and borrowing money from friends and family to gamble with, chase losses and to attempt to pay off my debts.  I went as far as selling a piece of jewellery gifted to me by my Mum and was putting stuff into pawn shops to generate the funds to help me gamble.

It changed me as a person in terms of turning me against my own personal values, as well as low moods, depression and anxiety.  It was just crazy and became a compulsive obsession.  It’s quite hard to describe it in words sometimes, just how much it affected me.  I was really depressed.  Just not really wanting to be here and trying to understand the question as to why I was doing it.  Ruminating over and over it in my head, trying to get to the bottom of it all.  Why was I was behaving the way I was behaving?  Is it trauma, is it genetic, is it environmental, is it a mixture of all of them?

But I feel like people don’t really see it in the same light as drugs and alcohol and that gambling was just something that you could stop.  Therefore, that demotivated me to reach out because I always felt like people didn’t quite understand that gambling is a serious addiction.  I did reach out for support.  I think I reached out and explained to a lot of different people, but I always felt that when you explain gambling to people, it didn’t really register with them.  That’s why it’s important to reduce stigma and recognise gambling as a serious and escalating problem for some people, which I don’t think a lot of people do.”

Read part two of Scott’s story.

Find out more about the Scotland Reducing Gambling Harms Lived Experience Network.

Read more Humans of Scotland stories.

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