Gambling Addiction: 'I became very depressed and suicidal', says Matt Zarb-Cousin

Gambling Addiction: 'I became very depressed and suicidal', says Matt Zarb-Cousins

The thrill of winning at the slots can be highly addictive

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, has told talkRADIO his addiction almost drove him to suicide.

In an interview on the Paul Ross Full Set Breakfast show, Zarb-Cousin said he became hooked at the age of 16 and for almost four years he was a regular at the bookies. 

"You never know when you reach the peak, so you keep going," he said. "You experience rapid highs and lows. One minute you're £1000 up, the next you're £2000 down. If I didn't gamble, I would have felt incredibly low, erratic, and angry. It's poorly understood."

The problems of a gambling addiction aren't merely financial. It can impact an individual's relationships, create legal issues, and lead to mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.

By the time he hit rock-bottom, Zarb-Cousin had barely scraped into university and was borrowing money from every possible option. When he finally lost it all, he planned to end his life by jumping off the top of his halls of residence.

"I had to admit I couldn't gamble anymore," he said. "I became very depressed and suicidal. Thankfully, my parents got wind of it [his suicide plan] and drove up to Birmingham and talked me out of it."

Matt underwent cognitive-behavioral therapy to control his addiction, and eventually brought it under control. He explained to Paul what he's doing to ensure others don't suffer in the same way he did.

"I'm now working on a campaign against fixed-odds betting terminals," he added. "What we're trying to go is get the maximum stake reduced to £2 a spin."