Matt is Service Manager at Peer Aid, a scheme that uses lived experience and mentorship to help those suffering from gambling addiction. Matt began gambling aged just 11, losing more than £700,000. The turning point in his addiction came after he tried to take his own life.
How did you start gambling?
My first experience of gambling was when I was 11. I spent most weekends with my grandfather who would bet on horses every week. One weekend he asked me to pick a horse which then went on to win, despite the 33:1 odds. He gave me £30 as a treat. From that moment, gambling became a part of my life.
How much did you spend on gambling?
I didn’t realise how bad my gambling had got. When I eventually realised how much trouble I was in, I’d lost over £700,000.
What impact did gambling have on your life?
It wasn’t just money that I lost. I also lost relationships with loved ones that will never recover and gambling had become embedded in my life and personality.
At what point did you realise that you needed help?
My lowest point came when I tried to take my own life. That is what made me want to make a change.
Where did you go to for help?
I reached out for help and started talking to people. Signing up to GAMSTOP was a total lifesaver for me. Having to exclude from each individual gambling site made it almost impossible to stop, but GAMSTOP changed all of that for me.
Do you have any advice for anyone struggling with gambling?
I would recommend taking a rounded approach. However bad things seem, there are always people out there who you can talk to and reaching out is so important if you are to recover long term. GAMSTOP is a vital tool in allowing you to have breathing space to ensure that when you have an urge or impulse that you can’t place a bet in that moment. That makes all the difference.
My message to others is that there is always hope. Help is out there.
Follow Matt's journey
How are you doing now?
My last bet was in 2018. I’m now using my lived experience to help others as Service Manager at Peer Aid, a scheme that uses lived experience to help those suffering from gambling.
Over 400,000 people have used GAMSTOP to take back control of their gambling. You can read about the experiences of real people who have found self-exclusion helpful here.