Understanding Gambling Addiction


Understanding Gambling Addiction

How long has Gambling been around?

The best I can come up with is that gambling has been part of the human culture for many years, possibly hundreds or thousands in one form or another.

A set of ivory dice dating from before 1500 BC was discovered from Thebes, while specific writings mentioning gambling were found on a tablet in the Pyramid of Cheops.


As early as the 14th century, we have some of the first findings of gambling becoming outlawed; King Henry VIII of England did so when he discovered that his soldiers were spending more time gambling than working on drills and marksmanship.  We have come a long way since this set of ivory dice was found.  One thing I’m sure of, gambling addiction existed back then also.


Sports gambling (wager bets), Casino Gambling slot and card games, Online Casino slot and card games, Horse Racing, Dog Races, illegal cock fights and illegal dog fights are all ways in which  some people gamble.  Casino gambling seems to be what’s taking hold of our society anymore though.  More and more people are spending time in casino’s to socialize, celebrate birthdays, celebrate anniversaries, a or a night out for dinner and of course, to gamble.  Family vacations are also based around gambling for so many people anymore.  Las Vegas is booming all year long with vacationers.  There’s nothing wrong with that either.  An enjoyable vacation or a night out, good food, socializing and having a good time is great.  But it doesn’t always stop there.  For many, this can be the start of bad things to come. 


Gambling addiction doesn’t usually start over-night but can definitely take place in a short period of time.  For many, a small or good size ‘win’ or seeing someone else nearby hit something sizeable at a slot machine or a card table can be all it takes to get the adrenalin going and lose touch with your ‘good judgment or common sense.  The adrenalin rush for many people is all it takes to turn this vacation or enjoyable night out into the beginning of an addiction. 


Do Kids Gamble?

According to the National Research Council (NRC) an article that was written in 2002 suggests that not only do many adolescents gamble, but that they’ve gambled recently.  Card games and sports betting are the most common types of gambling for kids according to this article.  Many parents of teens are concerned that their kids may be gambling on the Internet, where many game operators are operating from servers outside the United States.  This is beyond the jurisdiction of state or federal regulations about the hours of operation, the age of the participants, or the type of game offered.


According to the Federal Trade Commission, it’s easy for kids to access online gambling sites, especially if they have access to credit or debit cards.  At very young ages, our children are forming addictions to gambling for some of the same reasons as adults.  According to this report, gambling in social isolation and using credit to gamble may be risk factors for developing gambling problems.


Many young people, who are under the legal age to gamble, have parents, relatives, siblings, or friends that gamble.  Families take their children out to eat at the casino’s restaurants and buffets at young ages for good food and family fun.  That’s great, they do have good food.  They also see the billboards showing people with big ‘wins’ and big smiles on the side of some highways. I know there are also billboards advertising ‘help for gambling problems’ and phone numbers to call too.  That’s just as important.  I personally just think the ‘big wins’ stick out more.  But what many of us don’t think about is the fact that young people usually only associate gambling casinos with good food, neat arcades, and a whole lot of fun.  What they don’t see is the person that just lost their house payment and it may have only taken an hour to do.  They don’t see the compulsive gambler that lost everything they owned including their families sometimes, due to a gambling addiction.  Educating our young people about limits, responsibility, and the risks of gambling is extremely important in this day and age. 


Compulsive Gambling

For many people, gambling is good fun and enjoyable whether it is slot machines, playing poker and other card games, or betting on horses.  Most people who gamble don’t have a problem.  But some lose control and gambling becomes an addiction.  Some of the signs of problem gambling are as follows:

  1. Always thinking about gambling, compulsive thoughts
  2. Lying about gambling
  3. Spending work or family time gambling
  4. Feeling bad after you gamble, but can’t stop
  5. Gambling with money that you need for other things such as, house payment, utilities, food and other necessities


So many compulsive gamblers have enormous financial burdens.  Many inpiduals have admitted to this after a suicide attempt.  As a result of overwhelming distress of enormous financial problems, spouses of problem gamblers have higher rates of stress related physical problems such as:

  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Asthma
  • Depression 


The suicide-attempt rate for spouses of problem gamblers is three times higher than that of the general population.


If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, there is help out there.  Psychological, cognitive or behavioral and relaxation therapy can be used in treating gambling addiction.  A number to call for more information is 1-800-559-9503.


Gambling Addiction Suicides

Did you know that compulsive gamblers are much more likely to have suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts than those with any other addiction?  Here are some factors that contribute to depression and suicide with a compulsive gambler:

  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Peptic ulcer
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines

Along with other stress related physical problems than those in the general population.


Compulsive gambling is associated with:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Hypomania
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Panic and anxiety disorders

Problem gamblers also accumulate debts that often result in foreclosures on mortgages and bankruptcy.



References:
FTC Consumer Alert
MedlinePlus
High Stakes: Gambling, Depression and Suicide http://www.valueoptions.com/spotlight_YIW/pdfs/articles/High_Stakes_Gambling_Depression_and_Suicide.pdf

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