Addressing the Problem of Gambling Addiction Among the Young
The rise of gambling adverts cannot be underestimated, especially when you consider that the NHS thinks that there are around 600,000 problem gamblers in the UK. Gambling addiction is becoming a huge issue in the lives of many individuals. Many believe that the growth in online gambling and gambling advertising has led to the increased number of people being affected by this destructive illness.
Although gambling can be seen as harmless fun by some, for others it becomes an obsession and one that quickly takes over their lives. Gambling addiction is nothing new, however; individuals have been struggling with this illness for decades, if not more. Nevertheless, it is important to realise that the ability to gamble from the comfort of one’s home twenty-four hours a day has led to a massive increase in the number of those being affected. So although gambling addiction has been around for many years, it is a problem that is getting worse by the day. Many are now of the opinion that more needs to be done to tackle this scourge to society.
The Hidden Addiction
Gambling addiction often goes unnoticed because of the fact that there are no outward physical signs to indicate that a person has a problem. In fact, it is often referred to as ‘the hidden addiction’ for this very reason. This means that many individuals’ gambling addictions go unrecognised until they are in the very late stages and in real danger of losing everything they have.
Gambling addiction is becoming a major issue with young people too; it is easy now for youngsters to set themselves up with an online betting account. Provided they can access a bank card they can set up their own account and start betting. In Scotland, the problem appears to be worse than it is in the rest of the UK. In 2006, a study found that nine per cent of youngsters in Glasgow and North Lanarkshire aged between eleven and sixteen had a gambling problem. This was significantly higher than the data for youngsters in England and Wales. At the time of the study, the authors had noted that there seemed to be a gambling problem among the youth in Scotland.
Studies have also shown that it is vital that early intervention takes place when it comes to tackling the issue of gambling among young people. Research literature suggests that those who work alongside young people should be adequately trained on the subject; this includes youth workers, teachers and medical practitioners.
The national youth work charity, Fast Forward, has been addressing the issue of gambling addiction among the young since 2014, and they are promoting educational and preventative programmes on the subject of youth gambling.
The programme, known as The Youth Problem Gambling Initiative, began with a pilot in Edinburgh and the Lothians back in 2014. From January 2016, the programme was extended to the whole of Scotland, thanks to two-year funding from the Responsible Gambling Trust.
The programme aims to train and support practitioners who work with children by providing them with the knowledge and tools required to recognise those who are at risk of developing a gambling addiction and to then intervene as quickly as possible.
Those who take part in the initiative receive the Youth Problem Gambling Toolkit, which is a manual designed to provide information and resources to practitioners. The manual can be used as a supportive aid for those addressing the issue of youth gambling.
Need for Training
From January to June 2016, fourteen training sessions were run by the initiative, with 137 practitioners taking part. Around eighteen per cent of those who took part said they had had to provide support at least once to a young person aged between eleven and fifteen on the issue of problem gambling. That figure jumped to forty-five per cent for those aged between sixteen and twenty-five.
The need for training was soon highlighted, with most participants saying they lacked the required resources and knowledge to allow them to confidently offer support and activities on the issue. This is a topic that will be addressed by The Youth Problem Gambling Initiative.
The aim is to take the initiative further forward when addressing gambling addiction among the young. Feedback from participants will be used in the final version of the toolkit, which is due to be launched online in 2017.
Help for Addiction
There is no doubting the fact that gambling addiction continues to be a major problem here in the UK. Many adults and young people are affected by this illness, and unless it is treated, it can have devastating consequences for the individual and their families.
Training those who work with young people to spot the signs of addiction is a fantastic idea as it allows for early intervention. Thankfully, there are ways to treat this addiction already in place, with counselling and therapy sessions proving to be very effective.