Shocking data has revealed that gambling addiction is causing people to be admitted to hospital in the North East.
This comes as it was revealed gambling addictions were diagnosed in 10 hospital admissions across the region last year.
The exclusive NHS data includes people given a diagnosis of “pathological” gambling.
Patients with the illness will have “intense” urges to gamble which are difficult to control, are preoccupied with the idea of gambling, and continue to gamble “despite personal distress and interference with personal function” in their day-to-day lives.
Pathological gamblers may also rack up large debts, lie and break the law to feed their habit, and could also put their jobs at risk because of their compulsion to gamble. Rajesh Nadkarni, Executive Medical Director at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said that help is on hand for problem gamblers and their families.
He said: “Problem gambling destroys lives and families, affecting nine people in every 1,000 in society”.
“We have a number of services available for those with problem gambling. We work with those affected to explore the problem and educate about the potential harms associated with it and we signpost them to the right areas of support.
“We recognise that being close to a problem gambler can be a difficult and distressing experience and provide support for family members and friends who may also be in need of help.
“If you feel like gambling may be a problem for you, all of our resources can be accessed online where there is specific information on problem gambling.”
The figures also include people given a diagnosis of “gambling and betting”.
This includes those whose gambling causes them problems, but is not deemed to be pathological. The NHS rounds the figures to the nearest five to protect patient anonymity.
The 10 hospital admissions was the same number as the year before, and in 2017/18 all were for people aged 26 and over. Earlier this year the NHS launched The National Problem Gambling Clinic in London, which offers specialist help for children and young people aged 13 to 25.
Gambling services for adults are also being extended and rolled out as part of the scheme, with clinics opening in the north of England for the first time.
A total of 14 new NHS clinics will be opened.
At the time of the announcement, Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, said: “The links between problem gambling and stress, depression and mental health problems are growing and there are too many stories of lives lost and families destroyed.
“This action shows just how seriously the NHS takes the threat of gambling addiction, even in young people, but we need to be clear – tackling mental ill health caused by addiction is everyone’s responsibility – especially those firms that directly contribute to the problem.
“This is an industry that splashes £1.5 billion on marketing and advertising campaigns, much of it now pumped out online and through social media, but it has been spending just a fraction of that helping customers and their families deal with the direct consequences of addiction.”
Across England there were 335 admissions to hospital because of gambling in 2017/18 - up from 263 the year before and 297 in 2015/16. Some 44 of the diagnoses were for people aged 25 and under while 284 were for people aged 26 and older. The remaining seven ages were unknown.