New women gamblers support group in Leeds

New women gamblers support group starting in Leeds City Centre Thursday 11 May 2017 5pm - 7pm. 1st session free. Book your place now -

Why do women gamble?

Women gamble to escape boredom, stress, and family issues but are neglecting their families, embezzling money and serving prison time, and some are committing suicide. When women battling gambling addiction first approach treatment, they often find themselves baffled by and impatient with their own addictive behavior.

Gambling is known as the hidden addiction and the most carefully hidden aspect of all, until recently, has been what we mistakenly see as the new phenomenon of women becoming addicted to gambling. The 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey suggested that there had been a rise in problematic women gambling from 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent of the U.K. population. And since, the media has grabbed onto the rise in gambling advertising aimed at women, claiming that online gambling has been the trigger for female problem gambling.

Women were gambling problematically long before the advent of online gambling, carefully concealing what they felt was their shameful secret in slot machine arcades. Online gambling has made it much easier to gamble and much more difficult to detect a gambling problem. As long as her smart phone, the tablet, the computer screen is hidden, then so is her gambling.


Problem gambling is about survival; the intention being to change a distressing psychological and emotional state through experiences gained from gambling. With gambling addiction in both men and women, if we peel back the layers starting with the shocking, but really only symptomatic, layer of devastating loss and spiralling debt, we would find that the underlying motivation for gambling is not the desire to win money. Neither is it an ignorance of the odds of a win, or a drive to self-destruction. Problem gambling is about survival; the intention being to change a distressing psychological and emotional state through experiences gained from gambling. So, survival is the similarity across the genders. But, the differences lie in the unique paths men and women take to get there.


Men coming forward for problem gambling treatment are much more likely than women to speak about the rush or excitement from the anticipation of a win. It’s also an excitement about the win to be gained from sports betting, attention enjoying an audience and being recognized as a winner.


Women approaching treatment for problem gambling might also speak of pursuing a win to lift a low mood, but they are more likely than men to choose modes of gambling that allow them to escape a troubling reality with absolute focus on the game. It is common for women to achieve a state of total absorption through staring at the slot machine or the computer screen until all feeling is numbed. Through this escapism, she achieves an almost disembodied, detached state.

This also makes it all too easy for women to detach from how much time and money is overspent, until hugely unaffordable amounts of both are wasted. We can all understand how much less appealing it would be to return to the ‘real world’ when she has now doubled the problems she originally sought to escape, with additional monetary debts and damaged relationships at home and in the office. Performing for an audience is something she rarely wants, and gambling on a slot machine or online is ideal for avoiding the limelight. Performing for an audience is something she rarely wants, and gambling… online is ideal for avoiding the limelight.


Most often the cause of gambling addiction in women is directly linked to her relationships. These relationships either offer too much for her, or not enough. I treat women who have an excess of overwhelming responsibilities.

74 percent of women I have worked with since 2008 are single mothers from deprived backgrounds. Online gambling has leapt the social divide. Society has accepted the picture of the macho male gambler but women have been perceived differently. Women have been portrayed as mature, nurturing mothers, loving daughters and responsible homemakers and the idea of a woman compulsive gambler simply did not exist.

The men did not know what to do with the women who came to the GA meetings. Some were literally chased away after being “hit on” or intimidated by the men and made to feel “less than.” Because of the stigma and guilt and the intimidation from the men, it was difficult for women to find recovery from their addiction because the men ridiculed the games women played such as Bingo, slot machines, and raffles.

When the women joined a 12-step program, they were invited to share their story in front of a group of all males. Some of the women came from abusive relationships and family issues could not be discussed in front of men. Here they were, looking for support and found themselves unable to discuss the reasons they drove to the casinos.

Free Yourself from Gambling Addiction

An addiction to gambling can be even more problematic and damaging than a drug or alcohol addiction, if not more so. Despite the fact that gambling does not directly lead to any physical health issues, it is often easily masked and an addiction to gambling (also known as ludomania) can be extremely difficult to diagnose. This is especially true in situations where the addict in question has access to a large amount of resources and seems to be able to afford her habit.

One of the dangers in gambling addiction is that the only limit on a person is the amount of money that she can get her hands on. When people abuse drugs and alcohol, their bodies have a set limit of how much they can handle. So the potential damage a gambling addict can cause on her life, although different from the damage in drug addiction, is virtually limitless.

Signs of Gambling Addiction

  • Individual commits crimes to fund gambling habit

  • Person becomes irritated and angry when questioned about gambling habits

  • Individual continually lies about amount of money lost gambling

  • Person loses a job or relationship due to gambling

  • Individual feels need to gamble large amounts of money to feel satisfied

A Focus on Total Healing in Addiction Therapy

At Footsteps Counselling I understand that the vast majority of addictions are manifestations of pre-existing mental disorders. People often resort to gambling to escape problems or avoid feelings of sadness, depression or anxiety. Additionally, pathological gambling is a compulsive disorder requiring psychological treatment, heightened self-awareness and behavior modification education to gain control over.Unfortunately, because of it seeming harmless at first, gambling addiction can go unnoticed and untreated until a catastrophic and potentially life threatening event occurs. Examples of this include bankruptcy, criminal charges and physical injuries. Be aware of the symptoms and don’t wait until disaster strikes to take action.

Footsteps Counselling Gambling Addiction support for Women can provide mental health evaluations, psychological treatments, assess the severity of the addiction and create a course of therapy that will allow your or your loved one to gain power over gambling addiction. Call 07769156076 to learn more about our gambling addiction treatment for women.

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