A Doncaster mum is fighting to get gambling recognised as a serious addiction after her son committed suicide when his habit spiralled ‘out of control’.
When Anne Evans’ son, Alan Lockhart, ‘lost everything’ as he was in the grip of a gambling addiction, there was no help available in Doncaster for people battling the same habit.
Anne, of Woodfield Plantation, says she felt ‘helpless and alone’ as she tried to support Alan, whose habit transformed him from a charming and popular person into someone that was unrecognisable to his family.
After running up a massive debt and decades of fighting the addiction, which started when he was just 16, Alan took his own life, citing his gambling habit as being at the root of the problems in his suicide note.
Today, Anne is working with some of betting’s biggest names to create awareness of the dangers gambling poses to hundreds of people across Doncaster.
Alan first began to play on fruit machines aged 16.
His gambling addiction, which in his later years was mainly centred around horse racing and snooker games, led to him ‘losing everything’ including his café business in Thorne and his home.
He also ran up a massive debt, that he was unable to repay.
A gambling awareness campaign has been launched in Doncaster this week - with posters and literature being distributed to every doctors’ surgery and pharmacy in the borough.
Anne said: “The thing is it’s a silent addiction. If someone has an alcohol or drug addiction then it’s visible - you can see it.
“But if someone has a gambling addiction, especially if they lie and conceal it like Alan did, then it can go unnoticed.”
The campaign has been launched in conjunction with the director of public health in Doncaster, Rupert Suckling, and the Senet Group - an independent group that promotes responsible gambling standards.
Anne says she was inspired to launch the campaign, when after looking at what help was available in Doncaster for people with gambling addictions she realised there was no service in the borough that specifically catered to people with the same problem as Alan.
Anne says she believes there is ‘far more support’ available for people affected by the addiction, however both public health Doncaster and Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that neither provider offers any services that specifically cater to problem gamblers.
A spokesman for Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust said: “We do not provide a specific service for gambling addiction.”