If people could admit ‘I am a problem gambler’ in the same way they say ‘I am an alcoholic’ they could be protected, says the founder of a London clinic working towards a cure
The Friday morning discussion of new referrals to the National Problem Gambling clinic provides a sharp picture of why pathological gambling is such a catastrophe for those who become addicted and their families. Medical staff gather in an airy upstairs room of the Fulham, south-west London clinic and take an hour to fill each other in on the profiles of their new referrals.
The first new patient, a man in his 60s, decided to contact the clinic himself, motivated by a sense of self-loathing after being caught stealing from his wife’s purse; he recently punched his daughter when she confronted him over his gambling, and neither is now speaking to him. He thinks he has probably lost around £150,000 over the past decade, and is about £3,000 in debt; somehow he has managed to keep hold of his job, but his shift patterns make it difficult to attend the clinic’s group treatment sessions. He is feeling suicidal.