The growing popularity of casinos across the country has led to more and more people becoming addicted to gambling. This process addiction can be just as real and just as serious as a drug addiction.
Gambling Addiction in America
Gambling doesn’t just occur in Las Vegas anymore. Casinos are popping up all over the place, and they bring with them ruin and devastation for some people’s lives.
Gambling doesn’t become a problem for everyone. Just as drinking alcohol can be done safely and in a responsible way, so can gambling. But for 15 million people in America, a night at the casino is problematic. More than 3 million of these people are considered to be gambling addicts. Just as a drug addiction keeps people coming back for more, a gambling addiction can completely dominate someone’s life.
Problem gamblers spend 10, 15, or more hours a day at the casino. Some can drop thousands of dollars in a day. Others spend relatively little money, but a great deal of time on gambling. Just as with a drug addiction, a gambling problem becomes an issue when it disrupts the person’s normal daily functions. For example, spending 3 days straight at a casino, or gambling all of one’s savings away are definitely red flags that there is a gambling problem. Before it gets to that point, however, a gambler will begin to crave gambling, and will gradually spend more and more time or money on the activity.
Because gambling addicts do not physically show signs, it is known as the hidden illness. A gambler may get very good at lying to family or friends about where they’ve been, or where the money has gone.
The very nature of gambling makes it prone to abuse and addiction. There is a certain thrill that occurs at the prospect of winning large amounts of money. Casino games keep players coming back for more, either for more money that they have been lucky enough to win, or to make up some of their losses. Problem gamblers often believe they have to gamble more money to win their money back, and this often dominates their thoughts.
Too often, however, problem gamblers lose everything to their addiction. Not only will they eventually lose too much money, but the neglect of other things in their life can quickly take a toll on relationships and other important things.
Treatment for Gambling
There is treatment for gambling addiction. Often it involves therapy and learning coping skills for stress and other issues that cause the addictive tendencies. Support groups are helpful, and some recovering gambling addicts find that pairing up with a sponsor is very beneficial in the long run for recovery. It is important for someone with a gambling addiction to realize they have a problem, admit to their mistakes, and get help, in order to turn their life around.