Gambling: When Fun Becomes Compulsive
Surveys indicate over 70% of adults in the US gambled at least once in the past year. Researchers indicate approximately 1% of gamblers meet the criteria for pathological gambling in a given year and another 2-3% experience less significant, but still serious problems with their gambling (i.e., problem gamblers). Seniors were the fastest growing group of gamblers between 1974 and 1989, and online gambling has become increasingly popular among teenagers and young adults.
Pathological gamblers are significantly more likely to have substance abuse disorders, depression, and anti-social personality disorder. In addition, a strong association exists between suicide and pathological gambling.
Problem gambling has been referred to as the “hidden addiction” because there are few outward signs until the disorder is well-advanced. Below is one commonly used screening instrument that can help detect a gambling problem:
Indicators of a Gambling Problem
1. You have often gambled longer than you had planned.
2. You have often gambled until your last dollar was gone.
3. Thoughts of gambling have caused you to lose sleep.
4. You have used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid.
5. You have made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling.
6. You have broken the law or considered breaking the law to finance your gambling.
7. You have borrowed money to finance your gambling.
8. You have felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses.
9. You have been remorseful after gambling.
10. You have gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations.
If you or someone you know answers “Yes” to any of these statements, consider seeking assistance from a professional regarding this gambling behavior.
It’s important to seek gambling-specific help. Utilize services and individuals with experience, certification or licensure in problem gambling counseling and treatment. The NM Gambling Helpline (1-800-572-1142) offers crisis intervention and referrals to certified counselors and support groups 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For further information, visit: www.ncpgambling.org.