It can start with a simple bet-perhaps a few bucks in the office pool for the NFL. But it could soon spiral out of control, landing a person in such debt those homes and families are lost. There are numerous opportunities around us to gamble-a lottery ticket, the horse track, casinos-even sports.
There are many signs that one can watch for that someone you know has a gambling problem. Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska offers the following as signs of a becoming gambling addict:
- missing work to gamble
- borrowing money or using credit to gamble
- becoming careless about the welfare of your family
- gambling until your last dollar is gone
They also describe three stages of gambling addiction. These include 1) Search for Action or Winning Phase; 2) Chase or Losing Phase and 3) Desperation Phase. This runs the gamut from losing seen as bad luck to possibly suicide if it continues to get out of hand.
There are different types of therapy that will help an individual with gambling addiction. Individual and group therapy, educational classes, psychiatric evaluations, financial counseling and work with Gambler’s Anonymous are just a few ways in which one can get help. There is also help for those that live with or have grown up with gambling addicts. Gam-Anon is a resource of a support system for those who are not addicts but struggle with the problems gambling addiction can cause between families and friends.
Those that find themselves addicted to gambling have many options which can help them find a way out of the problem. Gamblers Anonymous is one such option. They believe that compulsive gambling is a progressive illness that can be arrested but not cured. “The Gamblers Anonymous concept is that compulsive gamblers are really very sick people who can recover if they will follow to the best of their ability a simple program that has proved successful for thousands of other men and women with a gambling or compulsive gambling problem.”
The National Council on Problem Gambling says that “2 million or 1% of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4-8 million (2-3%) would be considered problem gamblers; that is, they do not meet the full diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling, but meet one of more of the criteria and are experiencing problems due to their gambling behavior. Research also indicates that most adults who choose to gamble are able to do responsibly.”
Gambling crosses cultural boundaries, as well. The Niagara Multilingual Problem Gambling Program offers help in many different languages including Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi and Portuguese. It offers information that is culturally appropriate as well as linguistically.
The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling says it is not the responsibility of the casinos. “The cause of a gambling problem is the individual’s ability to control the gambling,” the website said. “The casino merely provides the opportunity for the person to gamble. It does not, in and of itself, create the problem any more than a liquor store would create an alcoholic.”