WORLD Cup fever and the cost of living crisis may prove a 'toxic' mix for those battling a gambling addiction but there is help - and hope - out there.

Not only is support available, including specialist addiction therapy, but there are also warning signs friends and family can look out for.

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These may help identify a gambling problem in their loved ones earlier so they can get support sooner, providing a potential lifeline in a struggle which can have devastating consequences on those with the addiction and their families.

Priory Private Healthcare has a list of seven warning signs which indicate a problem as a helpful tool.

These are:

  • a lack of control and an inability to resist impulsive gambling urges
  • a loss of interest in other hobbies
  • increasing the quantities gambled to recoup losses or to experience the same thrill
  • concealing the amount of money and time spent betting
  • stealing money in order to gamble
  • denial of the problem
  • physical symptoms including anxiety, irritability, headaches, stomach upsets and stress-related symptoms

Gambling is identified as one of the addictive behaviours most likely to lead to suicide. It is also identified by the NHS as damaging to personal relationships.

Last week we reported on the suicide of Michael Martin, 27, at a level crossing in Malvern on June 24 after he accrued large gambling debts.

Worcester News: Seven signs of a gambling problem Seven signs of a gambling problem (Image: Priory)

The NHS also provides a helpful questionnaire helping people who may have a gambling problem identify whether they have an issue so they can seek help. 

A spokesperson for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust said: "We don’t provide a specific NHS service to support with gambling addiction, but our Healthy Minds service helps people experiencing more common issues such as stress, anxiety or depression and these are likely to be triggered by challenges people experience in their lives.

"We provide a range of online resources, group therapy and 1:1 talking therapies which give people the tools to improve their mental health.

"The service will also signpost people to other organisations which specialise in particular issues, for example, bereavement, addiction, relationships or debt."

Lee Rolleston, Priory Psychotherapist, said: “In the last few months I have talked to a person who gambled away their redundancy money, and another who lost about £200,000.

"The volatility in the markets can cause huge problems for people addicted to day trading - and online casinos and the World Cup, coupled with the cost of living crisis, is a toxic combination for some.

“Gambling is not gender specific and one of the addictive behaviours more likely to lead to suicide.

"Due to the lack of physical effects, gamblers are generally able to hide their addiction for longer than substance abusers.

"As a result, homes, careers, and even lives can be lost when the horrors of their addiction are discovered."

Sources of help

* GamStop (so they can self-exclude from all UK-regulated gambling sites):

People can book a free gambling addiction assessment with Priory experts here:

* Priory:

* GamCare offers free information, support and counselling for people who have problems with gambling in the UK.

It runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and also offers face-to-face counselling. The helpline is free and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

* The National Centre for Behavioural Addictions. If you live in England or Wales, are aged 13 or over and have complex problems related to gambling, you can refer yourself to the National Problem Gambling Clinic, which includes the Young Persons' Problem Gambling Clinic.

* West Midlands Gambling Harm Clinic. The West Midlands Gambling Harm Clinic provides specialist addiction therapy for people who have problems with gambling.