Gambling has become a very common past time, expanding across the country over the past couple of decades. Casino gambling was illegal everywhere in the United States outside of Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey, only 40 years ago. Now, some 1,000 casinos are operating in 40 states. Casino patrons bet more than $37 billion annually—more than Americans spend to attend sporting events ($17.8 billion), go to the movies ($10.7 billion), and buy music ($6.8 billion) combined.
Casinos are popping up everywhere. Lottery tickets are readily available everywhere. Online gambling has proliferated as well. The preferred mode of gambling these days is electronic gaming machines, of which there are now almost 1 million nationwide, offering variations on slots and video poker. Their prevalence has accelerated addiction and reaped huge profits for casino operators. A significant portion of casino revenue now comes from a small percentage of customers, most of them likely addicts, playing machines that are designed explicitly to lull them into a trancelike state that the industry refers to as “continuous gaming productivity.” The casinos offer free liquor and other incentives to keep the gambler gambling. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/12/losing-it-all/505814/
The signs of a gambling problem are often the same as the signs of other addictions and include: Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling; Having trouble controlling gambling habits; Gambling when you cannot afford to; Your friends and family express concern about your gambling. Of course, as with any other addiction, the hallmark sign of a gambling problem is that you feel you cannot stop.
If you feel like you or a loved one needs to keep gambling even after severe consequences, or if you or a loved one feels anxious when you think about quitting, it is highly likely you or a loved one are suffering from a gambling addiction. http://www.psychguides.com/guides/compulsive-gambling
If you have a gambling problem:
- Join a support group such as gamblers anonymous. http://www.gamblersanonymous.org
- If you are having a difficult time with someone you love’s gambling problem, there is a support group- gam-anon.org
- Talk to a counselor.
- Medication can be helpful for many people. Talk with your doctor.
- You can request that casinos put you on their voluntary self-exclusion list which bars you from the casinos. Like any addiction, compulsive gambling can be difficult to overcome. You may find it difficult to admit that you have a problem. Healing the shame or guilt that you feel will be a big step on the road to recovery. If you don’t treat your gambling problem, it can lead to serious financial issues. It can also negatively affect your relationships with family members, friends, and others. Effective treatment can help you avoid these consequences and repair damage to your relationships.
Joleen Hartland MS, LCPC