March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
Gambling is all around us and part of our mainstream culture. It’s in the workplace, our restaurants, gas stations, and conveniently online. Gambling itself is not a problem, but it can and has become a problem for some. Problem gambling does not discriminate. It can affect those of all genders, socioeconomic status, race, age, educational levels, etc. However, there are some factors that may put some at higher risk of developing a problem with gambling. Those suffering from mental health disorders or substance abuse disorders are at higher risk, especially personality disorders, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or ADHD. Younger and middle-aged people are at higher risk. Men are at higher risk than women, but women who begin later in life tend to become addicted more quickly. Having friends or family members who gamble increases the risk. Personality characteristics such as being highly competitive, a workaholic, impulsive, restless or easily bored may increase your risk of compulsive gambling.
Who does problem gambling affect?
It can negatively impact not only the gambler and their mental health, but also their family, their workplace, their friends, their financial obligations, and even our legal system as individuals sometimes commit financial crimes due to their gambling problem.
How do I know if someone I care about may have a gambling problem?
- Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more gambling money
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
- Trying to control, cut back or stop gambling, without success
- Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
- Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression
- Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses)
- Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling
- Jeopardizing or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling
- Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money
- Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away
Source: the Mayo Clinic
If you are concerned about yourself or someone you know, the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program (GAP) pays for confidential counseling with certified problem gambling providers to Nebraskans and their families who suffer a gambling addiction.