Do We Have an Investment Addiction Problem in the UK?

This is a mental health-related article designed to raise awareness about different types of addiction that are currently afflicting the people and economy of the UK. We write this article, so you can find out more about what addiction is, such as gambling or investment addiction and other drug dependency addictions and how you can find help for yourself or a loved one.

What is gambling addiction?

It is only recently that gambling addiction has begun to be recognised and treated as a serious addiction disorder. Gambling addiction is a type of behavioural addiction that can result in serious negative consequences for individuals and their families, including heavy debt.

According to a 2017 report by The Gambling Commission, approximately 430,000 individuals in the UK are struggling with gambling addiction, with a further 2 million at serious risk. A UK government review found that an estimated 0.5% of the adult population have a problem with gambling, 7% are affected negatively by other people’s gambling, and about 3.8% are gambling at at-risk levels.

While many people dismiss gambling addiction, it is a serious issue that can cause grave harm to the individual’s health, lifestyle, and family.  

Can investing fuel a gambling addiction?

When we’ve compared investing & gambling before on Financial Expert, we’ve reached the conclusion that taking measured risks over the long term with very little decision-making is not considered gambling. This is because investing in shares has a positive expected return and is recommended by leading financial organisations for most people saving for their retirement.

However, books about day trading make clear that short term trading bears many of the hallmarks of gambling. The prospect of large wins, short positions and a clear ‘win/loss’ outcome from completing a trade.

Those with addictive personalities may put down their technical analysis books and let their impulse to take risk dominate their investing style. In our guide to day trading for beginners, we explain that investing psychology is vital to a successful outcome, and a large part of this is about maintaining discipline and removing emotion from the equation as much as possible.

What Is alcohol addiction?

Alcohol addiction, also known as alcohol dependence or alcoholism, is the most severe form of high-risk drinking, where individuals feel an uncontrollable desire to drink. People struggling with alcoholism may often think that they cannot function without drinking and that it is the most important factor in their life. They develop increased dependence on drinking and may prioritise it over other aspects of their life.

Statistics by governmental organisations show that alcohol addiction is a serious problem in the UK. There are an estimated 603,391 dependent drinkers in the UK, only about 18% of whom receive the treatment they need.

In England and Wales, there were 7,423 alcohol-specific deaths in 2020, which is a 19.6% increase in deaths from 2019. Alcohol misuse is also the most significant risk factor for death, disability, and ill-health in 15 to 49 -year-olds and the 5th biggest risk factor across all ages in the UK.

About drug addiction

Drug use disorders or drug addiction refers to the misuse of psychoactive drugs, illicit drugs, and legal substances such as prescription drugs. Drug addiction is a severe problem in the United Kingdom, with there being a 17% increase in deaths from drug misuse between 2018 and 2019. The United Kingdom also has one of the highest rates of drug-induced deaths in Europe.  

Statistics also show that in 2018/2019, approximately 3.2 million people in the UK between the ages of 16 and 59 had consumed a drug, with 9.4% of adults and 20.3% of young adults having taken an illicit drug.

Struggling with drug addiction can be a destructive, isolating, and scary experience, but the stigma around getting help is costing people their lives. If you or your loved one are struggling with drug use, reach out for help today.

The economic impact of addiction rates

Addiction disorders are rising across the United Kingdom, and so is unemployment. A report by UKDPC shows that approximately 80% of individuals with drug use disorders in the UK are unemployed. There is a definite link between addiction disorders and the economy, with both changes fuelling the other.

With increasingly competitive workplaces, low job security, and rising unemployment rates, more and more individuals are turning to alcohol and drugs for an escape.

With increasing substance dependency, many individuals tend to lose their jobs, while poverty and low quality of life fuel substance addiction. As the economy struggles and unemployment rates increase, the frequency of both newer addiction disorders and relapses simultaneously increases.

Addiction disorders and unemployment are both standalone issues, but the likelihood of one following the other is significant.

The best economics books reveal a concerning link between addiction and unemployment, with both aggravating the other, leading to many individuals advocating for fighting poverty to fight drug addiction and vice versa.

If you’re struggling with an addiction disorder and cannot afford alcohol rehab, charity organisations and the NHS can cover treatment costs for you.

Covid-19 and addiction

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals struggled with feelings of grief, loss, loneliness, and death of loved ones, worsening mental health and increased dependency on alcohol or drugs.

The charity Action on Addiction reported an 80% increase in the number of people seeking help in January 2021 compared to last year. This shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly hard on individuals living with addiction disorders or in recovery.

Reduced access to healthcare during the pandemic also issued significant concerns for individuals struggling with addiction disorders.

Increased feelings of boredom, loneliness and depression during isolation are all serious factors for relapses and an increase in alcohol or drug dependency. Social support is crucial for individuals in recovery, and the impact of social isolation and limited social contact has been grave.

Getting help for addiction in the UK

Getting help for addiction disorders can be a brave step, which is why working with professionals who can guide you through every step of the way can make it easier for you to find success. Every individual deserves access to treatment and recovery and the chance to lead a healthy, addiction-free life.

Working with professionals can give you the best chance to secure an addiction-free life. It can help you overcome the emotional and physical strain of addiction as well as improve your personal and professional relationships. Getting help is the best way to improve your quality of life, leaving you feeling stable, happier, and healthier. Consider reaching out to health charities, your local medical practice or Citizens Advice for support and advice on how to take positive next steps.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction disorder, remember that treatment is nothing to be ashamed of, and help is always available for those who need it.


Addiction disorders, such as addiction to alcohol, drugs, or gambling, are serious mental and physical health issues that can have grave consequences for struggling individuals and their families.

Statistics on different types of addiction show that there is a serious addiction problem in the UK.

  1. Alcoholism is a serious problem in the UK, with an estimated 603,391 dependent drinkers, only about 18% of whom are receiving the treatment they need.
  2. Drug addiction is also a cause of major concern in the UK, with there being a 17% increase in deaths from drug misuse between 2018 and 2019.
  3. Gambling addiction can have grave consequences on an individual’s health, quality of life, and family relations, and approximately 430,000 individuals in the UK are struggling with gambling addiction.
  4. Poverty and unemployment increase the risk of developing addiction disorders, and about 80% of individuals with drug use disorders in the UK are unemployed.
  5. Social Isolation, loneliness, boredom, and poor mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in enormous stress upon individuals living with or recovering from addiction disorders.
  6. Addiction is treatable, and many have rediscovered the beauty of life after successfully going through a detox and rehab programme at a trusted provider. Aftercare sessions and ongoing support are essential, though, for a continuous recovery.

Life with an addiction disorder can be incredibly hard, but every individual deserves a shot at leading a happy, fulfilled, addiction-free life. If you or your loved one are battling addiction, take the first step on your journey to recovery today.