How a former addict recovered from a ‘selfish’ 12 year gambling spiral

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How a former addict recovered from a ‘selfish’ 12 year gambling spiral
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A MAN who lost more than £200,000 has turned his life around after a 12-year gambling addiction.

Starting to bet on football accumulators from the age of 18, Will Halstead quickly became hooked on gambling and online slot machines.

Following his addicitons, Will, originally from Huddersfield, said that his family and relationships broke down and he was taken to the point of being suicidal.

From addict to advocate

Despite repeated relapses and failing to muster any long-term change through therapy, Will finally began to turn things around after emailing the gambling controls service Gamstop.

After being supported through one-to-ones and group sessions over a two year period, Will now works as a project coordinator with the group therapy project GaMHive, the charity who helped him.

Through his work at the Greater Manchester based charity, Will aims to raise awareness and reduce stigma of gambling related harm and encourage the development of research, education, and treatment services.

He also wants to teach people about the gambling industry tactics and work with organisations like Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) to include lived experience in their campaigns.

"Grateful to be where I am"

Reflecting on his addiction, Will said he feels grateful to be in a better place and how he has overcome his battle.

He said: “It sounds odd to say this, but it’s something we sometimes talk about on gambling groups, just being grateful for what you’ve been through because of how much it’s made you look at your life.

“My mum would look at me now and say she’s really proud of how far I have come since stopping gambling and with what I’m trying to do for other people.

“I’m so much more aware now what it takes to have relationships with people because before I was just so selfish. I was really rubbish, whereas now I’m the opposite, I’ll just try to be as selfless as possible.

“Without gambling, would I have had that awareness? I don’t know, maybe, but I’m definitely grateful to be where I am now.”

Will endorses the GMCA anti-gambling harms campaign, to inform people of industry practices that can have negative impacts on people’s health and wellbeing, finances, work, and relationships with friends and family.

GMCA has also awarded £300,000 of grant funding to support organisations and partnerships across the city-region to deliver initiatives that aim to prevent and reduce gambling related harm and tackle inequalities.

All boroughs of Greater Manchester benefit from the funding; from training of community volunteers to bespoke support for people who are currently unemployed.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “As an industry, the main aim of gambling operators is to maximise profits. These profits are the result of customer losses which, particularly during this cost of living crisis, risk having a seriously detrimental impact on people’s lives.

“This campaign in Greater Manchester is the first of its kind in shining a light on harmful industry tactics and supporting people to protect themselves against them. This is particularly important during the World Cup, and the overwhelming amount of gambling adverts that will be appearing on our television screens.

“We are doing everything we can in Greater Manchester to prevent and reduce gambling harms, and we need that to be matched by national action. The review of the Gambling Act is now well overdue, and the Government must take this opportunity to do more to protect our residents and people right across the country from the harmful practices of the gambling industry.”

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