The typical patient now seen in the National Problem Gambling Clinic (NPGC) is a white-collar male in his mid 30’s who has one or sometimes two jobs to further his addiction.
Psychiatrists reported an alarming number of city workers and graduates who keep their gambling a secret from their colleagues.
The NHS believed their findings to be unusual in comparison with normal sociological patterns of gambling addiction. This type of addiction tended to be greater among working classes but the recession may have caused money pressures and psychiatric problems for those individuals coined as more ‘highly functioning’.
The study, which was compiled in a central London clinic, looked at 260 patients with an average age of 36. Two thirds were employed and many were described as highly functioning. Only 3 percent were women.
Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a consultant psychiatrist who set up a gambling clinic, said “It is very unusual because we are looking at a highly functioning group of individuals overall. These are people who are skilled at what they do and are respected and trusted by their employers.”
The admissions to Bowden-Jones clinic have had gambling debts ranging from £2,000 to £500,000 and rates of depression and anxiety were at a staggeringly high 93 and 91 percent respectively.
In February of this year research was carried out by the clinic, which is part of the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust. The findings showed that many of the patients had their addictions were increased by fixed odds betting terminals and sports betting and that fruit machines and the lottery accounted for only a minimum of cases.
People who sign up to the clinic have ether chosen to themselves or have been recommended by their GP. The treatment consists of nine weeks worth of cognitive behavioural therapy, concentrating on understanding triggers, developing strategies to counter temptation and controlling their spending cycle. This is followed by after-care to prevent relapse.