Chris Murphy

Thirty-two-year-old Chris Murphy from Leeds is now a successful sports journalist and darts commentator but life could have turned out very differently for him.
Chris said: “I first started gambling when I was 17 and I can still remember my first bet – a £2 accumulator which won me £350. To me that was a lot of money and it felt amazing.”

Despite being thrown out of college due to missing lessons through gambling, Chris got a job and lots more disposable cash. “I became obsessed with money. My life was getting paid on a Thursday, then going out drinking and gambling Friday, Saturday and Sunday, being skint on a Monday and then doing all again the next week.”

On his 18th birthday he got a bank loan and was gambling every day. Chris thought it was working as he always had access to cash, not considering the debt he was racking up.

When he was 19, his mum realised that he was in difficulties. She drove him to a gambling support group a few times but when she stopped taking him, he pretended to go but instead went gambling.
He lost another job, but Chris thought he was OK as he still had some cash and tricked himself into believing he could somehow make a living through gambling. Then the money ran out. He got any work he could but still continued gambling.

At 23 he decided to try and win enough to pay off everything he owed. Incredibly he succeeded but he couldn’t walk away from the addiction. During the 20 minute wait for the bus home Chris decided to place another bet – and lost everything.

“I said to myself – I’m going to win everything back with the little money I’ve got, or I’m going to kill myself.”

Chris attempted suicide but fortunately he didn’t succeed. He went home to his parents and he returned to the gambling support group. For 18 months he didn’t gamble at all, he went to university, got into a new relationship and his mum and girlfriend handled all his finances.

In his second year at university he took out a student loan and relapsed – gambling and losing all the money he was able to access that day.

His recovery became a repeated cycle of months of abstinence interrupted by relapses, which where damaging financially, emotionally and mentally to Chris and the people around him. “My relapses were very short lived, but very damaging.”

Chris added: “The new NHS service is important because it will help people at point of crisis when they need it. It will also start to bring it in line with things like drugs and alcohol.

“Gambling addiction should be treated as a health issue. If recovery is only based on physically preventing gambling, it’s just papering over the cracks.”

Chris has worked hard over nine years attempting to treat his gambling addiction. He feels that he now has the chance to give back by making his negative experiences a force for good and help strengthen his own recovery, while carrying the message to people still struggling.

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