With millions of people set to bet on this weekend’s Grand National horse race, the Royal College of Psychiatrists advises those with gambling disorder to protect themselves from any harm caused by increased public attention on gambling.
Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE from the College’s Faculty of Addictions Psychiatry said:
“While millions of people will enjoy betting on the Grand National, others who struggle to control their gambling may find this weekend particularly challenging. If you have a gambling disorder, it is important to seek help from specialist NHS clinics and put appropriate self-exclusion agreements in place to stop you from gambling online and in person. You could also install blocking software to prevent access to gambling websites.
“If you are among those at risk of developing a gambling disorder, this weekend may be a timely opportunity to ask yourself if you are in control of your gambling or if you may need professional support to help you take back control.
“Not everyone who gambles will develop a gambling disorder, but some will. Gambling disorder is a repeated pattern of gambling behaviour where an individual feels they’ve lost control, continues to gamble despite negative consequences and sees gambling as more important to them than any other interest.
“Gambling disorder is an illness and if left untreated can lead to significant depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Addiction to gambling is a serious public health issue. It is estimated hundreds of suicides each year are linked to gambling harm.
“Gambling addiction is treatable. Following a 12-week treatment programme, including cognitive behaviour therapy, about 70% of people will be abstinent. If you think you may have a gambling problem, speak to your GP who can refer you to a specialist clinic for treatment.”
Our website contains further information on gambling disorder.