The addiction that always beats the odds

Gambling is a serious addiction that continues to affect people young and old, and with betting more accessible than ever before, it is a problem that is only going to get worse.

Ger Cooney, a senior addiction counsellor in the Rutland Centre in Templeogue, has found that gambling is on the rise, especially with young people.

“Studies suggest that gambling is on the rise and our findings suggest that there are more young people being affected and involved in gambling and gaming. The availability of new technology such as smartphones make it more secretive and easier to do so we see more young people getting involved,” said Mr Cooney.

Mr Cooney explained the negative effect advertisements can have on young people.

“More young people are clued in about gambling nowadays and we are surrounded by advertisements. Even in the GAA you see that there are odds and prices attached to all the matches.

“When the people see these ads and the prices, they reckon that they know better. You even see [it] in the papers and online news outlets that they will have pieces on Monday about the bets you should have done and things like this I feel contribute to the problem at hand,” he said.

The reasons for taking up something like gambling are wide ranging and trying to deal with these problems on top of the addiction itself are a challenge that the likes of Mr Cooney would deal with on a regular basis.

“We don’t delve too much into the why until later in the process. We are accepting of anyone who wants to be helped. People who tend to come to centres like ours tend to be struggling with other issues that lead to their addictions. Feelings such as abandonment and neglect tend to rank highly and a lot of people, not just the person addicted, have been hurt by the addictions. They normally see gambling as an escape from these issues,” he said Mr Cooney.

There are groups that people who are not receiving treatment can join as part of therapy to stop their addictions, “We usually have around 20 to 30 people most Tuesdays at these meetings. We have had as much as 40 people at them on some nights. We have begun to notice more young men coming in to these meetings in recent times,” said Mr Cooney when speaking about the meetings they run in the Rutland Centre.

“The only thing we ask for is that people have a desire to stop gambling or gaming.”

Most people that contact people like Mr Cooney are concerned family members of the person who is addicted.

“The very nature of addiction to gambling is that very few people recognise it as an addiction. We usually meet with the family member who made the call or have them alongside the person who is addicted to gambling,” he said.

What does Mr Cooney suggest to help people struggling with  gambling addiction? He says that the reduction of advertisements and increasing awareness will go a long way towards dealing with the issue at hand.

“The bigger betting companies have a lot of sway with the amount of adverts they have. Also, there really is a lack of awareness in regards to gambling addiction. People fail to realise that gambling is a serious issue and one way to stop it is to have less advertisement for gambling companies and more awareness campaigns.”

To contact the Rutland Centre call 01-4946358 or e-mail info@rutlandcentre.ie.

The meetings for the Gamblers Anonymous group take place every Tuesday in the Rutland Centre on the Knocklyon Road in Templeogue.

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