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Deyan Dimitrov February 2, 2024 3 min read
Breaking the Silence: Former Gambler Advocates against Stigma
Gambling-related stigma remains a significant obstacle preventing individuals struggling with addiction from seeking timely help
Liam Colebrook, 40, a former problem UK gambler from Ripley in Derbyshire, is challenging the stigmas surrounding seeking addiction support. Colebrook, who described himself as on a “one-man crusade,” aims to break the silence and encourage open conversations about gambling addiction. His stance matches that of several leading gambling-related charities hoping to encourage more people to step forward and get professional assistance.
Victims Often Feel Pressured to Hide Their Condition
Speaking for the BBC, Colebrook admitted he had suffered through a divorce, financial losses, and struggles with mental health. He emphasized the difficulty of pinpointing when his gambling problems first surfaced, highlighting the societal acceptance of gambling as part of social activities, making it challenging for individuals to recognize when a habit turns into an addiction.
His addiction led to significant losses, not just financially but also emotionally. Despite external success in the workplace and maintaining a facade of normalcy, Colebrook admitted to losing everything, including his emotional well-being. The man hid his problem from family and friends, but after two stints in rehab, he is now committed to dispelling the stigma associated with seeking help for gambling addiction.
Embrace every bit of help you get and understand no one will judge you, and you won’t be the first person to be struggling with this, and unfortunately, you won’t be the last.Liam Colebrook
While sharing his story, Colebrook acknowledged the societal misconception that gambling addiction is a simple matter of willpower. The man was adamant that any long-term solution included openly discussing the problem and seeking help. He encouraged empathy and understanding, emphasizing that recovery is possible and individuals can reclaim their lives.
Professional Help Is One Call Away
According to gambling harm support group GamCare, its National Gambling Helpline experienced a record number of calls and online messages in 2023. The helpline received 52,370 calls, a 24% increase compared to 2022. The charity also noted a significant rise in calls during the festive period, with December 2023 seeing a 39% year-on-year increase.
Gambling-related stigma has been one of the primary issues facing leading charities. GambleAware, another leading UK gambling support organization, holds regular campaigns aimed at challenging stigma and encouraging individuals suffering harm to seek help. The charity revealed that 62% of the people who know problem gamblers would negatively judge them, impeding timely assistance.
As individuals like Colebrook bravely step forward to share their experiences, the hope is that it sparks a broader conversation about gambling addiction, reduces stigma, and encourages more people to seek help. Organizations like GamCare and GambleAware will remain available to those in need, providing assistance and spreading awareness. Effective regulations are also a necessity, safeguarding gamblers from addiction.