I became addicted to gambling after having a baby' - BBC News

I grew to become hooked on playing after having a child’ – BBC Information

  • By Rachel Stonehouse
  • Newsbeat


Rebecca was 19 and a younger mom when she first developed a playing behavior

“I bear in mind simply getting scratch tickets, profitable, shedding, opening increasingly accounts on-line – and earlier than I knew it, I used to be a playing addict,” says 28-year-old Rebecca, whose playing started when she struggled with the publish workplace. – postpartum despair.

After the scratch playing cards, Rebecca began betting on horses, though she knew nothing about racing. “I used to be searching for this dopamine hit — that facet of my mind was going: gamble, gamble, gamble,” she says.

Final summer season, Rebecca spent 5 weeks on the UK’s first women-only playing centre, the place addicts who’ve hit all-time low are given an opportunity to show their lives round.

The BBC was given unique entry to the middle – a modest terraced home in Birmingham.

Rebecca says it was upsetting to be away from her kids for therefore lengthy, however since leaving the clinic she has not performed and is feeling optimistic in regards to the future. She says relapse is “not an possibility”.

Letter of Desperation

Like Rebecca, playing utterly took over 34-year-old Caroline’s life. She as soon as spent 30,000 on-line in three months.

She would maintain taking part in in her bed room till the early hours of the morning.

“You haven’t any idea of time. You isolate your self,” she says. “It was the bottom level in my life as a result of I destroyed the whole lot round me.”


Caroline says she misplaced all sense of time when she performed

Earlier than she obtained remedy on the clinic final October, issues obtained so unhealthy that she thought-about ending her life. It is clearly nonetheless painful to speak about, however she needs to share her story within the hope it will probably assist others.

“I felt the one method was to not be right here,” says Caroline. “Life can be simpler for everybody. It will be cheaper for everybody.”

She chokes up when she tells me that final Could she sat in her automotive and wrote a final letter to her mother and father – till she had a change.

“It wasn’t value taking that route as a result of I knew I may get higher if assist was there – I maintain that letter as a reminder to myself now.”

A protected area

The remedy middle is situated in central Birmingham. Once you stroll within the door to the townhouse, you might be instantly greeted with a poster filled with messages of help, written by girls who’ve been by means of this system themselves.

One message reads merely: “This place saved my life.”

Art work and messages of positivity embellish each floor – even inside kitchen cupboards.


Art work made by residents with optimistic messages decorates the home

The place feels homely, with comforting particulars. Every resident is welcomed with a letter written by the girl who final lived of their room.

The clinic is run by the Gordon Moody charity and that is the primary time they’ve allowed the media in since opening in direction of the top of 2021.

In that point, the variety of girls searching for remedy on the clinic has greater than doubled, from 77 within the first 12 months to 210 by the top of March this 12 months.

Girls can confer with the middle themselves, or it may be carried out by a well being skilled or one other gaming group.

The centre’s director, Harp Edwards, says the ladies handled listed below are at a “peak stage” of want as a result of they might hurt themselves or really feel suicidal.

“They really feel prefer it’s the final straw for them, so moving into remedy is form of like their final possibility,” she says.


Middle supervisor Harp Edwards says all the ladies who take part have helped form this system

Through the keep, the ladies have restricted entry to telephones, cash and any on-line companies, so they can’t play. However the middle additionally limits the ladies’s publicity to their each day lives, “so all of the stress of the surface world is form of gone,” says Edwards.

The housing program is designed round girls’s wants.

“I believe the significance of getting an all-female remedy is that it permits a lady to be in a protected area and in addition deal with points which can be just for girls,” Edwards says.

Info and help

The keep for ladies is shorter – solely 5 weeks in opposition to 14 weeks for males – as a result of they usually have kids to take care of. And Edwards says there are different variations too, for instance, girls will focus extra on what private experiences could have led to their playing and the way it impacts their relationships.

“Males have a tendency to speak about playing first earlier than we take a look at trauma, whereas girls go straight in with the influence that playing could have had on them,” she says.

The intensive five-week program contains each day remedy and psychoeducational periods, in addition to artistic workshops the place the ladies are inspired to precise their emotions.


In a craft workshop, Rebecca, Caroline and Elissa paint masks with contrasting playing and gambling-free faces

Elissa, 36, admits she wasn’t concerned within the workshops when she first arrived, saying she was too “stiff” – now she jokes she’s “not stiff, simply garbage” on the craft.

She says she began taking part in slot machines in arcades when she was simply 9 years outdated.

She managed to maintain it a secret from her family and friends for years, however issues actually escalated when she began taking part in on-line in any respect hours of the day – together with at work.

“In between each job, I might play. If I used to be on responsibility at work, I might play,” says Elissa.

“I might come house from work and play earlier than the youngsters or me the spouse got here house. I began taking my telephone into the toilet after I was within the bathe, stuff like that.”


Elissa says she stored her recreation a secret for years

Since leaving the centre, Elissa has moved to a different a part of the nation and is now coaching to run playing restoration teams herself.

Stricter guidelines?

An estimated 22 million individuals play each month within the UK. The variety of girls receiving playing help has greater than doubled in 5 years, with 1,134 girls receiving remedy in 2015-16 and a pair of,423 in 2020-21, in keeping with figures from the charity GambleAware.

Elissa, Caroline and Rebecca all really feel there’s a want for extra regulation within the playing sector, in addition to extra remedy applications like this – that are largely paid for by the playing trade. However Rebecca questions the motive behind this funding.

“Are they doing it as a result of they’ve basic issues about their clients spending hundreds and hundreds of kilos on their web site?” she asks. “Or have they got to place it in place as a result of it is the legislation?”

The Betting and Gaming Council – which represents the trade within the UK – informed the BBC in a press release: “We’re inspired by the newest figures from the impartial regulator, the Playing Fee, which present that drawback playing charges amongst UK girls are 0.1% – down from 0.2% the earlier 12 months.”

They added that the trade will donate 110 million. subsequent 12 months to sort out dangerous playing and that promoting and sponsorship should adhere to strict pointers.

The home in Birmingham is a brief base for the clinic, which is shifting to a extra everlasting and bigger web site in Wolverhampton later this 12 months. Then it will likely be in a position to accommodate three extra girls on every program – at present it will probably solely take 5 at a time.

They may also have restoration beds for individuals who want to remain longer on the finish of their remedy.

This implies they are going to be capable to assist extra girls like Rebecca, Elissa and Caroline, who credit score the clinic with altering their lives for the higher.

“Thanks for the whole lot,” Elissa tells the employees. “You’ve got taught me to like myself.”

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