Hi, I'm Christopher Gilham. Most people call me Chris. I am one of the co-founders of Gambling Education Network.
I have personally experienced gambling harm, as well as alcohol dependence. I have been gamble free and sober since October 2017.
Since a child I have battled with my mental health. I started to drink and then later gamble as a way to cope. I only started gambling at the age of 30. Gambling was never something I had been interested in though.
However seeing relentless advertising on TV which portrayed gambling as a fun and danger-free activity, I downloaded my first gambling app to place a football bet.
Within weeks I was hooked. I was no longer just betting on the outcome of football matches but on in-play football, horses, dogs, virtuals, slots, roulette and blackjack. Once I had downloaded the apps to bet on football, the cross-selling of the more dangerous casino products began.
I had tried to stop gambling by 35. I had self-referred to the NHS Problem Gambling Clinic. Each attempt was unsuccessful until following a 4 day gambling binge, when I was planning to win and leave money to my young family before ending my life, I found recovery.
Instead of winning I lost every penny. I'm very grateful to have lost that night and hit my rockbottom. I could end my life but not as planned because I hadn't won the money for my family or I could start my recovery journey. That week I attended my first Gamblers Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Since entering recovery things have got so much better. I feel comfortable with who I am. I love myself. I take each day as it comes. I have learnt how to deal with my feelings through communication and other tools rather than through gambling and drink.
Starting the @allbetsareoffpodcast_ in April 2020 was a huge step for me and then founding Gambling Education Network was the icing on the cake. I am passionate about using my lived experience and that of the team to prevent gambling-harm.
I am incredibly proud to be a part of an amazing gambling harm prevention community. I am lucky to have this unique insight that only those of us with lived experience have. I have so many opportunities and so does everyone else.