Gambling: Fun or Addiction?

Gambling is a fun way to blow off  steam or even get lucky and make a few bucks..right?  For most people, this is true.  However, some people struggle to stop gambling and the games go from fun to addicting.  Gambling addiction (sometimes called problem gambling) can be hard to detect and even those struggling with the addiction may not realize it.  Often, by the time the addiction is uncovered, there are devastating financial consequences.

Some signs of a gambling addiction may include: excessive, unaccounted for time away, up and down mood swings, disappearing items of value or constantly thinking of how to obtain more money (to gamble), and secrets-like hiding tax documents or lottery tickets, or lying about whereabouts or income, etc.

Often, those caught in a gambling addiction will use excuses such as, “it’s been a long day (or week, or whatever) and I just needed to unwind a little.” Gam-Anon is a “12 Step self-help fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem of another.”  Their website ( has a very helpful list of 20 questions that you can ask of yourself or your loved one if you are concerned about a gambling addiction. These are listed below:

1      Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?

2      Is the person in question often away from home for long unexplained periods of time?

3      Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?

4      Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?

5      Does this person promise that he or she will stop gambling, yet gambles again and again?

6      Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended?

7      Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses or to win more?

8      Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties?

9      Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?

10    Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling?

11    Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses?

12    Do you search this person’s clothing, go through his or her wallet, or check on his or her activities?

13    Do you hide his or her money?

14    Have you noticed personality changes in him or her?

15    Does this person consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?

16    Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibility for his or her gambling onto you?

17    Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods to try to control his or her life?

18    Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling sometimes to the point of self-destruction?

19    Have you ever threatened to break up the family because of the gambling?

20    Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

If you or your loved one is suffering from a gambling addiction, it is vital that help is sought for the addict as well as involved loved ones as a gambling addiction can severely impact more than just the addict.

underagegamblingMiddle School Students and Gambling

Because gambling and addiction often go hand in hand, a recent study was aimed at examining the link between substance abuse and gambling in middle school age students. The study, published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics followed 1,325 students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. Interestingly, all of the students who participated in the study were also part of the school’s drug and alcohol prevention program.
The students were surveyed about their drug and alcohol use as well as their gambling behaviors including: online betting, scratch lottery tickets and/or played video poker.

Although many view gambling as an adult behavior, the study results surprisingly indicated that there was a high rate of gambling in this middle school age group. In fact, around 35 percent of girls and 46 percent of boys in eighth grade participated in some sort of gambling. The most common form of gambling was scratch lottery tickets. Further, those who reported gambling also indicated a higher rate of substance use. The study reported that about 60 percent of the gambling students smoked cigarettes, 63 percent smoke marijuana and 73 percent consumed alcohol.
Because other studies involving older participants also link gambling and substance use disorders, more research is needed to implement prevention at younger ages to discourage these addictive behaviors.


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