Half of people with gambling disorders have not accessed support

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Just under half of people with a gambling disorder have not accessed treatment or support, according to a study by GambleAware. Of those scoring above eight on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) – considered ‘high risk’ – 46 per cent had not accessed support. 

DDN Gambling and Health guide
DDN’s guide on gambling addiction will help identify problems and guide you through the available treatment options.

The research, which included a YouGov survey, found that up to 61 per cent of the population had gambled in the last 12 months. Overall, 17 per cent of gamblers experiencing harm at any level had accessed support over the last year, with barriers to seeking treatment including stigma, reluctance to admit having a problem and lack of awareness of available services. Perceived stigma or shame was cited as a reason for not accessing support by 27 per cent of problem gamblers. 

In particular, women and people from BAME communities and lower socio-economic backgrounds may ‘not be having their treatment and support needs adequately met’, says GambleAware. Just under a fifth of gamblers from lower socio-economic backgrounds were ‘likely to report that nothing would motivate them to seek support’, researchers said, while women were three times more likely than men to cite practical barriers like time, cost or location as reasons for not accessing treatment. Around 7 per cent of respondents said other people had also been affected by their gambling. 

GambleAware is calling for services tailored to the needs of groups less likely to access services, as well as campaigns to increase awareness and reduce stigma.  

‘This research has shown that there is a clear need to further strengthen and improve the existing treatment and support on offer, to develop routes into treatment and to reduce barriers to accessing help,’ said GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches. 

GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches
GambleAware chief executive Marc Etches

‘Services have to be flexible to meet the needs of individuals and easy to access. Meeting the needs highlighted in this report will require partnerships between the statutory and voluntary sectors, both those services specific to gambling treatment and other health and support provisions. Working with those with lived experiences is essential in designing and promoting access to services, as well as helping to prevent relapse. It is important to engage community institutions including faith groups, to help make more people aware of the options available to them and ensure no one feels excluded from services.’

Treatment needs and gap analysis in Great Britain: synthesis of findings from a programme of studies available here.