Monday February 18th 2019

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I Have a Gambling Problem! What Do I Do?

This Year It Will Be Different

It’s that time of year again, the Holiday Season.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably already begun to tell yourself, “This year it will be different!” The ghosts of past holiday horrors taunt you as you vow that this year you will succeed in having that picture perfect holiday you’ve always imagined. So you begin making those same promises to yourself that you’ve made every year before…

“This year I will serve the most scrumptious feast and take photos of my family gathered around the table like a Norman Rockwell painting.”

“This year I will not succumb to the commercialism, the tension, the last minute frantic spending, the irritation of disgruntled shoppers, nor the foolish notion that anyone is ever really as happy as they look seem on social media!”

“Because this year it will be different….”

Many have said those words about the holiday season, time and time again, only to discover like the rest of us that there really is no such thing as “perfect”.

In the same manner, many have promised themselves that “…this time I will control my gambling”, only to find themselves once again unable to walk away.

Just know that you are not alone.

Gambling is an Emotional Behavior

No matter how hard you try, the Holidays can be a very stressful time, and stress can be a serious trigger for anyone with an addiction to gambling. Problem gamblers often use gambling to relieve stress and avoid uncomfortable feelings. Their gambling is more about emotion than money, yet the end result can be financial devastation.

For the husband, wife, mom or dad who loses it all, the emotional devastation can far outweigh the money, leading to serious depression and potentially even thoughts of suicide.

So, how can you identify a problem with gambling?

More importantly, what do you do about it?

Here are some of the warning signs of Problem Gambling:

For the Gambler:

  • Being preoccupied with thoughts of gambling.
  • Borrowing money to pay gambling debts.
  • Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down or quit gambling.
  • Gambling to escape worry or trouble.
  • Losing time from work or school due to gambling.
  • Lying about time and money spent gambling.
  • Neglecting family because of gambling.
  • Unable to stop playing regardless of winning or losing.

For the Family:

  • Emotional distress, anger, depression.
  • Family members working overtime or taking a second job to make ends meet.
  • Items of value lost or missing.
  • Lack of communication among family members.
  • One member (gambler) noticeably absent from or disinterested in normal family activities.
  • Reduced involvement in social/group activities outside the home.
  • Unexplained financial problems.

The good news is that gambling addiction is a treatable disorder.

People can, and DO recover!

If you are facing the Holidays with the fear, guilt and pain caused by a gambling problem, give yourself and your family the most important gift of all: the Gift of Hope!

Call the Problem Gamblers Helpline at 1-800-522-4700.

Use the information and support that is freely offered, and this year it really can be different!

Carol O’Hare, Executive Director
Nevada Council on Problem Gambling

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About The Shannon Bybee Working Group

Authors contributing to this blog on Disordered Gambling are all recipients of the Shannon L. Bybee Award, presented by the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling in recognition of proactive commitment to problem gambling advocacy, education, and research. If you believe that you or a loved one may have a gambling problem, please call the 24-hour national Problem Gamblers Helpline at (800) 522-4700 FREE for confidential assistance.