Family Matters is dedicating an episode to the topic of gambling addiction next season. Problem gambling is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. It can cause serious issues for the problem gambler, their family, and their friends.
Gambling is not confined within the walls of casinos, horse races, and bingo halls. People can also gamble through the increasingly popular online gambling sites. Even investments in the stock market are forms of gambling where people bet on the future viability of individual companies and organizations. With this greater accessibility to gambling comes a greater risk of developing a gambling addiction.
Most people can engage in gambling without the risk of addiction, but many others feel the temptation is too strong. Some experts liken gambling addiction to substance abuse and point out many similar links of it with depression, domestic abuse, and crimes like fraud and theft. It can lead to a vicious cycle where problems in one’s life lead to gambling addiction, which causes even more problems in one’s life. On top of the serious psychological and family issues, compulsive gambling can also destroy an entire family’s financial security very quickly. Because of the serious repercussions excessive gambling can have on an individual, their families, and their community, people should recognize the signs of problem gambling and receive help as soon as possible.
Many symptoms of gambling addiction are similar to signs of substance abuse. Signs include when someone is missing for long unexplained periods of time, have mood swings and sudden outbursts of anger, neglect responsibilities, show indications of financial problems, and are withdrawn from friends and family. Counseling and support groups are recommended long-term strategies to deal with gambling addiction. Each province has its own confidential helpline for gambling addiction, many of which are open 24 hours a day. They are listed on Canadian Centre’s on Substance Abuse website:
Gambler’s Anonymous is a very popular and successful support group for problem gamblers; their website is listed at: http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/.