Problem gambling is a progressive disorder in which an individual has a psychological preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling, the outcome of which is the loss of time, money and self-esteem. The gambling can progress to a point at which it compromises, disrupts, and ultimately destroys the gambler’s personal life, family relationships and vocational pursuits. These problems in turn lead to intensification of the gambling behavior. The principle features of problem gambling are emotional dependence on gambling, loss of control and interference with normal functioning.
Just as some people can become addicted to drugs and alcohol, it is possible for a person to become obsessed with an uncontrollable urge to gamble. The impact of this addiction is much greater than the obvious financial losses that can result from repeated gambling. The long-term result is a steady deterioration of the mental and physical health of both the gambler and their family.
|Adam*, a bright, energetic 15 year old, remembers what it was like when his Mom was still gambling. “I ate lunch and dinner at my friend’s house really often. I always hung out there when there was no food at our house, hoping my friend’s parents would invite me to eat with them.” Adam was only eight years old at the time and was unaware that his Mom was spending the grocery money on gambling.|
|Shelly* recalls the humiliation she felt the day a security guard brought her children in to the grocery store to find their mother. She was busy playing video poker and had left her two young children in the parked car. Although they suffered no physical harm, the emotional pain was no less damaging.|
|Richard*, a successful 45 year old executive, began gambling to deal with boredom and loneliness after his marriage ended in divorce. His healthy financial condition enabled him to gamble for many years with seemingly little consequence. Over time, however, the money ran out, the credit ran up, the house went into foreclosure and his depression accelerated. His financial, emotional and physical health deteriorated along with his work performance. The company decided to let him go, providing him with a substantial severance pay for his twenty years of service – which he eventually lost through continued gambling.|
|A high school counselor, concerned about the deteriorating academic performance of a senior honors student, questioned the young man about the situation. After repeated denials that any problem existed, the young man finally admitted that he had no time for schoolwork because he was trying to hold down a full-time job. His reason? Both parents were gambling uncontrollably and he need the income to help make the mortgage payments on the family’s home.|
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Problem gambling, like most addictions does not discriminate. A small percentage of people who gamble will develop gambling problems regardless of age, race, gender or socio-economic status. Although it is not possible to predict exactly who may develop a gambling problem, once identified, it can be successfully treated.
* not their real names