Former Premier League footballer Clarke Carlisle has opened up about his relationship with gambling in a bid to help others deal with similar problems.

The 42-year-old is supporting the latest phase of Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership’s Let’s Keep Talking campaign which focuses on problem gambling.

Being a compulsive gambler can harm your health and relationships and leave you in serious debt.

The UK has one of the biggest gambling markets in the world.

Problem gambling not only harms the individual, but their families, friends and wider society.

In 2018, 24.5 million people in England gambled (54% of the adult population, or 40% when you exclude the National Lottery).

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The North West (4.4%) and North East (4.9%) had the highest prevalence of at-risk gamblers.

There is evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions. However, if left untreated it can lead to suicide.

The former Blackpool, Burnley and Preston North End defender has spoken openly about his problem gambling, his battle with depression and previous suicide attempts:

“Gambling’s always been my little secret and I don’t know why I coveted it so much. I’ve given up smoking and drinking in the past, but gambling was always the one that I kept.

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“Gambling can very, very quickly spiral and affect many different areas of your life. It’s a never-ending chase of wins and losses: it becomes incredibly draining.

“I’ve been actively suicidal on five occasions in my life, and on four of those occasions gambling was a huge factor that took me to those depths. It becomes all consuming, don’t let it get there.

“There might not always be a quick solution but there is always a solution, let’s break that cycle. Help is out there, please reach out.”

The past two years have been a very difficult time for a lot of people. It is more important than ever for people to reach out if they are struggling with their mental health.

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Neil Smith, the Mental Health Multi-Agency Strategic Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership, said:

“Once again, we’re extremely grateful to Clarke for getting behind our campaign. We know his personal experiences will resonate with so many other people – particularly young men.

“Nobody sets out to become a problem gambler, but as Clarke has said, we understand things can quickly spiral out of control for some people. We want people to know there is help out there and the sooner they reach out, the sooner they can start to turn things around.”