SOME may feel that gambling addiction is not an actual medical problem, however, the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens recently announced that Premier League Football Clubs need to do more to tackle gambling addiction and that “tax payers and the NHS should not be left to pick up the pieces”.

Sponsorship logos of gambling companies have featured prominently on the football shirts of many clubs for quite some time. However, an undercover BBC report found that the junior fans’ webpages of three clubs displayed gambling company logos, which when clicked on, directed the user straight to that company’s website.

UK Gambling addiction statistics make for uncomfortable reading. In 2016, more than £13bn was gambled away.

There are currently an estimated 600,000 problem gamblers. Half of those have sold possessions to fund their habit. The average debit of those seeking help from one of the dedicated charities is £28,000; the same as the average national wage for full time employees. Sixty per cent suffer depression and more than one in ten have attempted suicide. Yet less than one in 20 seek help for their problem.

The psychology behind gambling is that of risk and reward. Every day we take risks, be that something small like trying a new food, to something enormous like investing our life savings in the stock market. If that risk pays off, we are rewarded, sometimes financially, but always with a sense of wellbeing and even euphoria.

Like a drug, the brain craves that feeling, and with time requires greater levels of risk to achieve the same sensation.

Gambling firms readily exploit this, either with free bets for first timers, beginner’s luck, or the idea that the next bet will make them win big. However, the odds are invariably stacked against the individual and, as the saying goes, the house always wins.

Gambling used to be limited to race tracks, bookies and private wagers between a few friends. However, with the advent of online gambling, you can literally bet thousands of pounds in a matter of seconds, using a smart phone, anywhere and at any time.

The symptoms and signs of problem gambling are similar to that of alcohol addiction. They include a preoccupation with gambling, and having to spend increasing amounts of money to achieve the same “high”.

Withdrawal from your loved ones and society, with gambling disrupting your home life and job are signs of severe addiction.

If you feel that you, or a loved one has a gambling problem, the help you need may depend the level to which you are affected.

If it is mild and you feel you can manage it yourself, practical tips include making sure that any money gambled is an amount you can afford to lose. If you go out gambling, avoid taking debit or credit cards.

If the problem is severe, you can access help through the NHS and three charities, these being GamCare, Gamblers Anonymous UK and the Gordon Moody Association.

It is often better to seek help sooner rather than later.