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Declan Cregan’s Triumph over Gambling Addiction and Helping Others

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Declan Cregan's life took a dramatic turn at the age of 16 when a single £1 slot machine bet spiraled into a decade-long gambling addiction, resulting in the loss of his entire £31,000 life savings. Declan's journey from a casual bet to a consuming habit illustrates the gripping nature of gambling addiction and its profound impact on personal finances and mental health.

Declan’s gambling addiction began innocuously, with a win of £7.20 on his first bet. This initial success hooked him, leading to daily visits to the bookies. His gambling habit was so compelling that it was flagged by a concerned teacher during a parent-teacher meeting, but attempts to curb his behavior were unsuccessful. Declan became adept at lying to conceal his addiction, even resorting to online banking to hide his activities.

The turning point in Declan's life came as a sales representative, where despite earning substantial wages, his addiction consumed every penny. Declan recounts days filled with a relentless pursuit of gambling, often ending with nothing to show for it. His addiction escalated to the point where he once won £8,000, only to lose it all within an hour, leaving him unable to even afford a taxi fare home.

Declan's addiction had severe consequences beyond financial loss. He began stealing for basic necessities despite earning a significant income and experienced significant mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. His relationships suffered immensely, and he acknowledges that without the support of those around him, he could have faced homelessness.

Declan's Journey from Gambling Addiction to Advocacy

The road to recovery began when Declan hit rock bottom after losing £17,500. This wake-up call led him to register with GAMSTOP, a free service allowing users to self-exclude from all gambling sites licensed by the Gambling Commission. This service was pivotal in breaking the cycle of addiction, providing Declan with the necessary barrier to stop gambling.

Today, four years and two months since his last bet, Declan has transformed his life. Now working as a teaching assistant and a carer, he dedicates time to outreach work, sharing his story in schools, sports clubs, and youth groups to raise awareness about the dangers of gambling. Despite his improved circumstances, Declan admits to ongoing struggles with mental health but emphasizes the importance of seeking help and the effectiveness of services like GAMSTOP.

Declan's story is a stark reminder of the destructive power of gambling addiction and the importance of access to support and self-exclusion services. It highlights the need for continuous awareness and education about gambling-related harm, emphasizing that recovery, while challenging, is attainable with the right support and tools.

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