Gambling addiction is on the ‘point of exploding’- counsellor

Donal O’Regan


Donal O’Regan

Transforming lives: Mike Guerin and Sr Agnes of Bruree House
GAmbling addiction is on the “point of exploding” says an addiction counsellor in Bruree House.

GAmbling addiction is on the “point of exploding” says an addiction counsellor in Bruree House.

Mike Guerin, who works in the centre which is the largest residential addiction treatment facility in Ireland, says betting has undergone a huge change in recent years with websites and smartphones.

“You are drawn in with free bets and free credit - it is becoming far easier now to become a gambling addict. And if you do become a gambling addict it is far easier to keep it secret for a long time because you are not seen going into a betting office or a casino.

“The problem with gambling is there are no upper limits, there is only so much drugs or alcohol that a person can physically take but with gambling no such upper limit exists. It is very, very serious, it is on the rise and it is particularly on the rise in women which is something we wouldn’t have been seen heretofore.

“In years gone by gambling was almost exclusively the preserve of the male but again with the advent of technology and smartphones you could literally lose your house or you business with that device,” said Mike. Gambling related admissions have more than doubled in recent years. Alcohol addiction would have vastly outweighed gambling but now it is as high as four to one.

There is an extensive interview with Mike and Sr Agnes, who is in charge of Bruree House, on the front of the Leader 2 section.

Mike has worked in the centre for the last nine years and in that time has seen a big difference in those presenting themselves for drug addiction treatment as well.

“There is a different pattern in that your typical addict coming in to treatment is younger, probably has less education, has been in trouble more and had a more chaotic life - even in that nine year window. We have looked at this and we predict that this trend is going to continue. The only conceivable explanation for this is drugs and drug taking has infiltrated provincial towns and rural areas. There was a time when it was the preserve of inner city areas of social disadvantage - that is no longer the case. Drugs are everywhere and drug addiction as a consequence is everywhere,” said Mike. Heroin is not necessarily the biggest.

“It is probably viewed by the public as the most serious and worse drug addiction. It is very serious and very dangerous but an awful lot of people don’t realise how serious and dangerous a cannabis addiction is, nor do they realise how serious and dangerous an addiction to prescription medication is and it is probably the hardest of all to detox from and to settle people from - tranquillisers, sleeping tablets etc”, he adds.

It is also revealed that Bruree House has benefitted greatly from the generosity of JP McManus. “I don’t know would we even be operating without his help,” said Sr Agnes.

See Leader 2 for full story