Discover how Chris Lee conquered his gambling addiction and founded Chatter Scotland and how they support fellow Scots on their recovery journey. Learn about the importance of finding healthy alternatives, mindfulness, and empathy in recovery. Check out the summary, or listen to the full podcast interview.
Chris Lee shares his 37-year struggle with gambling addiction and how attending a Gamblers Anonymous meeting changed his life. As he recovered, he founded Chatter Scotland, supporting fellow Scots battling gambling addiction. The podcast covers Chris’s views on terminology, the gambling industry, and the impact of addiction on his life. Chris and Brian discuss the importance of finding healthy activities to replace gambling, being mindful of triggers, and connecting with supportive communities.
Top 5 takeaways:
- Chris Lee overcame a 37-year gambling addiction through Gamblers Anonymous and personal growth.
- Chatter Scotland provides essential support for people battling gambling addiction in Scotland.
- Replacing gambling with meaningful activities is crucial for a successful recovery.
- Terminology plays a significant role in how we perceive and address gambling addiction.
- Mindfulness and empathy are vital for supporting others in the recovery community.
In this podcast, Brian talks to Chris Lee about his experience with gambling addiction and his path to recovery. Chris discussed how his gambling began at 14 with a 50p bet on a winning horse. He believes this initial victory sparked his gambling addiction, which persisted for 37 years!
Chris shared stories about the early days of his addiction when he frequented amusement arcades and betting shops. He conceded that he was never a high-stakes gambler. Chris gambled continuously and lost significant amounts of money over time. In September 2019, Chris was made redundant, and with the severance package he received, he started to increase the stakes of his bets. By February 2020, he had lost around 30,000 pounds.
Chris’s Life-Changing Moment with Gamblers Anonymous
On February 2nd, Chris chose to attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, which proved to be a turning point in his life. He acknowledged that participating in Gamblers Anonymous made him realize the magnitude of his problem and, for the first time, felt understood by a group of people who had undergone similar experiences. Although Chris doesn’t adhere to all the steps in the GA program, he continues to attend meetings for the fellowship and support they offer.
Brian and Chris highlighted the importance of finding a support group that works for you and how beneficial it can be to connect with others who share the same struggles with gambling addiction. They urged anyone struggling with gambling to try gamblers anonymous, as it can be a helpful resource in the recovery process.
Gambling Addiction Support in Scotland
Chris and Brian talked about gambling addiction support in Scotland. Chris mentioned that while GA meetings are available in Scotland, he feels there is a lack of specific gambling support for the Scottish community. He also pointed out that Scotland has a high addiction rate in general, contributing to its gambling problem.
Chris founded a platform called Chatter, which aims to provide an alternative source of support for those seeking help to stop gambling addiction in Scotland. Chatter is a peer support network comprising five individuals with lived experience, each sharing their stories about gambling addiction. Chris believes that sharing these stories and offering informal, one-on-one support can help fill the gap in services that currently exist in Scotland.
Chris expressed his desire for more comprehensive gambling support services in Scotland, such as NHS clinics and residential treatment centers like Gordon Moody (An online alternative is QuitGamble.com). He also suggested having more peer support groups available throughout the country to help the potentially large number of problem gamblers in Scotland.
Brian and Chris stressed the importance of raising awareness about gambling addiction and the support available. Chris mentioned that he had used his background in sales to help promote Chatter and make it more visible to those who may need help. He also noted the lack of advertising from GA, which he feels could be preventing more people from seeking help.
In terms of support in Scotland, Chris suggested having more tailored services available in different regions so people can access help more quickly. He also talked about working with Alliance Scotland, a group that aims to connect with policymakers and bring about positive change regarding support for gambling addiction and people who want to help gambling addicts.
Terminology and the Gambling Industry
When discussing gambling addiction, Chris stated that he doesn’t care too much about the specific terminology but has strong feelings about identifying as a “compulsive gambler.” He feels that this label could potentially perpetuate the problem. Instead, he prefers the idea of “discovery” versus “recovery”. Chris believes that discovering one’s true self and focusing on the present and future is more important than dwelling on past behaviors.
Brian and Chris also discussed the gambling industry and whether they thought it took advantage of them. Chris said that, in hindsight, he would have appreciated it if betting operators had noticed his unusual betting patterns and flagged them. However, he also acknowledges that it’s difficult to say whether this would have made a difference.
The Impact of Gambling Addiction on Chris
Chris and Brian discussed their experiences with gambling addiction and its impact on their lives. Both agreed that the gambling industry has been exploiting people’s addiction and that there needs to be less accessibility to gambling.
Chris mentioned that while he doesn’t blame the industry entirely for his situation, he believes they target vulnerable people. He narrated an incident concerning his addiction. In this story, he focused on gambling rather than attending to his girlfriend’s father’s health crisis. It demonstrated how the addiction had utterly consumed his life.
Chris and Brian overcame their gambling addictions and filled their free time with healthier activities. Chris has taken up walking, reading, and running, which has helped him feel more present in his relationships and improved his overall well-being. Brian has devoted his time to staying home with his daughter and running a gambling addiction podcast.
Advice for Those Struggling with Gambling Addiction
One piece of advice Chris offered to those struggling with gambling addiction is to fill the void left by gambling with meaningful activities. He emphasized the importance of finding something to occupy your time and mentioned reading, walking, and running as possible options.
In addition to filling the void, Chris and Brian discussed the need to be acutely aware of the damage done by gambling addiction. They acknowledged that overcoming the addiction is not easy, but recognizing the harm it causes and seeking help makes it possible to recover and rebuild one’s life.
Chris and Brian explored the impact of gambling on decision-making and the importance of being mindful of triggers for others in the recovery community. Chris reflected on how his past gambling behavior may have clouded his judgment and led to poor decisions, but he prefers not to dwell on the past too much, as it doesn’t help him personally in his recovery.
When asked if he ever gets triggered, Chris admitted he doesn’t. He recognizes the importance of being considerate of others who might. He shared an example of when someone pointed out that an image of a roulette wheel on his blog could be a trigger for others, and he acknowledged the valid point made. Brian also agreed that it’s essential to be mindful of potential triggers for others, even though it’s not always easy to predict what might affect someone.
Chris talked about the supportive community he’s found on Twitter, where he’s connected with people like Alex Lewis and Ryan Pitcher, who have similar experiences with gambling. He appreciates the work being done by people fighting against betting operations, money laundering, and gambling-related crime. Even though he prefers to approach his recovery journey with humor and light-heartedness, Chris understands the seriousness of the problem and supports those taking on the more challenging aspects of it.
Chris Lee’s journey demonstrates the power of resilience and determination in overcoming gambling addiction. His story highlights the importance of seeking help and connecting with a supportive community. Through Chatter Scotland, Chris offers hope and guidance to others struggling with gambling addiction in Scotland. By replacing destructive habits with healthier activities, being mindful of triggers, and fostering empathy, individuals can reclaim their lives and positively impact others facing similar challenges.