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Mad World: I found it almost impossible to get treatment for gambling addiction as a woman

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 19/10/2021 Bryony Gordon, Louisa Wells
The latest series of the Telegraph's mental health podcast, Bryony Gordon's Mad World, is marking Addiction Awareness Week © Provided by The Telegraph The latest series of the Telegraph's mental health podcast, Bryony Gordon's Mad World, is marking Addiction Awareness Week

"When I reflect back on it, I would describe it as if you were fading a record in and out. I faded out the alcohol and turned up the volume of the gambling."

Hayley, now in her forties, spent her twenties in the grip of what she now knows was an alcohol addiction. But it wasn't until gambling took over her life that she got to the point where she had to ask for help.

"When the volume on gambling went up and alcohol went down, and I tapered off drinking, I felt quite cocky about it to be honest. But now I believe that untreated addiction will often just manifest somewhere else. For me, it was gambling, for someone else, it could be food or work or people."

Speaking to Bryony Gordon on a special series of the Mad World podcast for Addiction Awareness Week, which you can listen to using the audio player above, Hayley describes the hurdles she had to clear once she finally accepted she needed help: a huge step in itself.

"I reached out to NHS Mental Health, they did some kind of assessment and they referred me for CBT and I had to wait two months for that appointment. But then I went and at my first appointment the therapist said, 'We can't treat you until you've got your gambling under control', and I'm about ready to lose my mind because I'm like, well, I thought, that's why I'd come here".

From there, Hayley made the decision that she needed to be removed from her environment and that she couldn't tackle her gambling on her own.

"I was put in touch with a gambling clinic in London. They did an assessment, said that I needed treatment, but their waiting list was forever. And then I found this place that specifically was residential for gamblers, but the residential was for men only."

Gambling is often seen as a male addiction, and while men are twice as likely to have a gambling problem, the numbers among women are on the rise. GamCare, the national gambling helpline, have reported the sharpest ever rise in women seeking their help in the last year.

"So the men got 10 weeks residential treatment and the women got a weekend. And I thought, what, is that because I've got to take care of the kids? I was apoplectic, absolutely so angry. I'd done what I thought I was supposed to do. And everywhere was going 'sorry, we can't help you'."

Listen to the new series of our mental health podcast, Bryony Gordon's Mad World, marking Addiction Awareness Week, to hear how Hayley took on the system and what happened when she finally entered recovery. Use the audio player at the top of this article, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your preferred podcast app.

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