Welcome Recovery Friends and New Seekers,
How many times have I heard that one from a new member seeking recovery in my Gamblers Anonymous meetings? A lot! Let me share a few facts that maybe many of others don’t know about gambling, and how easy it can be to become “Addicted.”
If we don’t share the knowledge, then we can not Shatter the Stigma!
Here are a few facts about gambling addiction from “The National Council Of Problem Gambling” who helps so many of us who are in recovery from “Addicted Compulsive Gambling” http://www.ncpgambling.org
What is Problem Gambling?
Problem gambling is gambling behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or vocational. The term “Problem Gambling” includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as “Pathological”, or “Compulsive” Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences.
NOW LETS SHATTER THE STIGMA ABOUT GAMBLING WITH TRUTH;
How can a person be addicted to something that isn’t a substance?
Although no substance is ingested, the problem gambler gets the same effect from gambling as someone else might get from taking a tranquilizer or having a drink. The gambling alters the person’s mood and the gambler keeps repeating the behavior attempting to achieve that same effect. But just as tolerance develops to drugs or alcohol, the gambler finds that it takes more and more of the gambling experience to achieve the same emotional effect as before. This creates an increased craving for the activity and the gambler finds they have less and less ability to resist as the craving grows in intensity and frequency.
Are problem gamblers usually addicted to other things too?
It is generally accepted that people with one addiction are more at risk to develop another. Some problem gamblers also find they have a problem with alcohol or drugs. This does not, however, mean that if you have a gambling problem you are guaranteed to become addicted to other things. Some problem gamblers never experience any other addiction because no other substance or activity gives them the same feeling as the gambling does. There also appears to be evidence of family patterns regarding dependency as many problem gamblers report one or both parents had a drinking and or gambling problem.
Can you be a problem gambler if you don’t gamble every day?
The frequency of a person’s gambling does not determine whether or not they have a gambling problem. Even though the problem gambler may only go on periodic gambling binges, the emotional and financial consequences will still be evident in the gambler’s life, including the effects on the family.
Stages of Compulsive Gambling
- Winning Phase (1-3 years) Gambling wins enhance self-image and ego. Losses are rationalized as temporary bad luck. The gambler feels intense excitement and identifies with being a winner.
- Losing Stage Losses outweigh wins and all gains are wiped out. The gambler begins to chase losses (gamble in order to get even). He/she will borrow money, sell possessions to get gambling resources in the belief that losses can be won back.
- Desperation Stage Compulsive gamblers think only about gambling. They may show visible personality changes. They are driven. Gambling takes priority over work, school, family, and other life aspects. They will pile up sever debts that create more life problems. They often experience sever mood swings and may commit crimes to get gambling money. Compulsive gamblers do not see a future without gambling. Suicide may be considered as a way out.
How widespread is problem gambling in the U.S.?
2 million (1%) of U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4-6 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.
How widespread is gambling in the U.S.?
Approximately 85% of U.S. adults have gambled at least once in their lives; 60% in the past year. Some form of legalized gambling is available in 48 states plus the District of Columbia. The two without legalized gambling are Hawaii and Utah….
I have to add that WOMEN make 50% of all problem gamblers, and WHY? They are BORED. Many women, especially one’s who lose a spouse, life partner, find they have much more time on their hands and as they grief from a traumatic life event such as this, they are MORE at Risk to become addicted if they gamble. Also, 6% of those numbers are now YOUR KIDS! The rate of young adults and late teens, ( High School Teens & College young adults) are now problem gamblers. With many college kids having “Poker Tourney’s” can make it a higher risk for them to become addicted as an adult.
“The National Center For Responsible Gaming” now has an awesome website to raise awareness and help college kids get help from “Problem Gambling” here: http://www.collegegambling,org …
Here are a few Stats about “College Gambling”:
Welcome to CollegeGambling.org
While gambling can be fun if you’re of legal age, it’s not a risk-free activity. For some college students, gambling for fun can turn into a serious problem and have a negative impact on their lives.
College Gambling.org was developed by the National Center for Responsible Gamingrelated harms on campus. This site provides resources to help you learn more about this issue and how to get help if you need it. Another website that is FANTASTIC For Student Gambling Information is the counseling services “Texas State University” offers for their students: Gambling : Counseling Center : Texas State University They have an extensive program to help students with gambling problems, and it is a good “Resource” for information about gambling addiction in general.
Fact Sheet: Gambling Disorders among College Students
- The most recent research estimates that 6 percent of college students in the U.S. have a serious gambling problem that can result in psychological difficulties, unmanageable debt and failing grades.
- Research has shown that teenagers and college-aged young adults are more impulsive and at higher risk for developing gambling disorders than adults.
- Most adults with a gambling problem started gambling at an early age. Scientists have learned that the adolescent brain is still growing, which accounts for the frequently impulsive behavior and unwise decisions of teenagers.
- Compared to female college students, research suggests that male college students are more likely to have gambled in the past year, gambled with more money and reported having gambling problems.
- Gambling disorders are associated with numerous negative consequences and are highly correlated with other risky behaviors in the college student population.
- Compared to students without gambling problems, students with gambling problems are more likely to use tobacco, drink heavily or binge drink, smoke marijuana or use other illegal drugs, drive under the influence and have a low GPA.
- Gambling opportunities, once only available in a few states, have proliferated nationwide during the past 30 years with the expansion of lotteries, casinos, and Internet gambling. Therefore, today’s college students are exposed to not only drinking and drug use but also gambling, both on campus and in the surrounding community.
- While the most recent research estimates that 6 percent of college students have a gambling problem, college students seem to mature out of these problems, as they do with alcohol and drug use, after college. This is evidenced by the fact that only 1 percent of the adult population has a gambling disorder in the U.S.
So parents, I think when you have “THE TALK” with your kids about the dangers of Alcohol and Drugs, maybe think about adding “Problem Gambling” now in the mix. DON’T let gambling become a problem for your kids.
I will close my post with something I learned REAL QUICK in treatment & recovery. It’s called H.A.L.T.
H.A.L.T. stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Each one of these four physical or emotional conditions, if not taken care of, leaves an individual vulnerable for relapse. And I know this first hand. I used to get LONELY when my husband worked out-of-town a lot, so I had time TOO much time on my hands. I know this contributed to my progression of my addiction into uncontrolled gambling. It was also a source of a couple of relapses in early recovery for me. Again, women seem to be more at risk for this.
It takes much work in recovery, meetings, treatment, working the 12-Steps if you chose to. There are many avenues to a path of recovery, the most important is for YOU to just START. There are many resources available today for receiving help to get your life back from Compulsive Addicted Gambling. You only need to take that first step, I did!
God Bless All
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon