Effect on Family
Many people are used to sharing information that will help keep their family and friends safe. Often we not only talk about these things, but also text and email about them. We email links to “Things you should know…” and text warnings about upcoming events. It seems easy to understand why we do this—we want each other to be aware of relevant safety factors.
Because awareness is preventative.
One of the things we need to be aware of in our community is the phenomena of problem gambling. Our family, friends and community should be aware that gambling can and often does become a very serious problem for some people. They should know that gambling problems can cause consequences as tragic as any notorious addiction and that people can and often do become hooked, losing money, become wildly indebted, destroying relationships, warping their futures and sometimes ending their lives.
In short, problem gambling can be devastating.
So if my grandma tells me she goes on a weekly senior bus ride to the casino or my college son starts playing fantasy football or my best friend spends a lot of time doing scratch-offs I am at least going to mention it. “Did you know that problem gambling is an underestimated addiction that affects millions of people?” Or “Have you seen that video on fantasy sports addiction?” Or perhaps simply something like: “Hey, you doing okay with that?” This can definitely be a casual question, but it is still an important-to-ask question. Problem Gambling is commonly called “The Hidden Addiction” because it is it typically easier to keep hidden then struggles with drugs or alcohol, so it is also helpful to be aware of the associated warning signs. Understanding such warning signs will help you to recognize the potential or existence of a problem.
When a concern or problem is recognized there are various forms of help.
Options for treatment, recovery support and topical education are available for both the gambler and as well as affected friends and/or family members. We should note that this help is available even in cases where the gambler does not want to participate. Dealing with someone else’s addiction can create personal crisis. As a result parents, spouses, siblings and friends of problem gamblers can be helped by talking with therapists and/or attending Gam-Anon meetings.
If you have a concern about problem gambling the New York Council on Problem Gambling has many resources that can provide helpful information for any member of your family you might be concerned about. Below are links to some of these additional resources.