Roll the dice – you might make a score. The lure of quick cash is very powerful. Most gamblers get hooked by one big score, but when they try to repeat their luck, no luck. That is how gambling addiction can start, chasing one time success. You can win five or ten dollars and then decide to but more tickets. Once you get the gambling bug, it’s a short step from buying a lottery ticket at the convenience store to pulling a chair up to the slot machines in a casino.
With so many online gambling sites, it’s easy for anyone to gamble even those who are underage, and teenage gambling addiction is growing. The sites say you have to be over 18 or 21, but who’s checking the IDs? Teens are three times more likely to get addicted to gambling than adults. Some rack up thousands of dollars in gambling debt before they’re even old enough to get a driver’s license!
Gambling is a hidden addiction because it’s more likely to be done in secret than on a night out to a casino with friends. As the addiction increases, gambling interferes with work, social, mental and physical aspects of your life.
Up to 4% of Americans have a gambling addiction. If the thrill of the hunt is the hook for you, and risking cash to win big is the lure, you’re an action gambler. But if you’re more likely to gamble when you’re upset or in some type of life crisis, then you’re an escapist gambler. Women are more likely to be escapist gamblers while men are usually action gamblers.
If you realize that you’re driven to gamble and it’s taking over your life, then you need to get help. You cannot beat this by yourself. An addiction to gambling really is as powerful as drugs or alcohol. The following are a few pointers to help stop the gambling addiction:
1. Tell your spouse, significant other, parent or someone close to you. Ask for their support as you confront your problem.
2. Reduce your access to money. Cut up your credit and debit cards. Carry only small amounts of cash in your wallet.
3. Change your path. Stay away from places that are triggers to gamble.
4. Stay away from people who encourage you to gamble. If necessary, change your cell phone number or email address so that they can’t contact you.
Contact the nearest Gambler’s Anonymous group. You and your family members need to attend this group to know what to expect. And find an experienced counselor who can work one-on-one with you.