Recognizing and Addressing Gambling Addiction - Home

Recognizing and Addressing Gambling Addiction

Date: February 1, 2017

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), problem gambling includes all behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal family or vocational pursuits.  The essential features are an increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money, more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop and a loss of control, in spite of mounting negative consequences.

Gambling can lead to the following negative outcomes and behavior:

  • Financial ruin
  • Legal problems
  • Loss of career
  • Loss of credibility in the community
  • Family and marital turmoil
  • Personal injury or suicide
  • Negative health effects include lack of sleep & anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Violence

Anyone who gambles can develop these problems if they are not aware of the risks, including limitations on potential financial losses and control over their actions.  There may be a link associated with genetics and the desire to take chances and gamble, or also social upbringing and moral attitudes towards gambling.  Gambling addiction does not only affect those who gamble illegally, but also those who play at casinos and even the lottery.  The amount of money waged, won or lost does not determine who has a gambling problem or is a compulsive gambler.  It is a problem when negative health, social, family, work, legal or financial effects occur to an individual.  According to NCPG, 2 million or 1% of adults in the United States meet the criteria for pathological or problem gambling in a given year.  There are approximately another 4 to 6 million or 2% to 3% that meet at least one of the criteria to being a problem gambler.  Children can also be affected as many states do allow for kids to gamble at age 18.  Internet gambling seems to be a growing concern relating to children and the ability to gamble without anyone being aware of such.

Below are some signs or indicators that someone may have a gambling problem or addiction:

  • Preoccupation with gambling (making plans to gamble or looking for opportunities)
  • Becoming uneasy when trying to stop or limit gambling opportunities
  • Committing crimes to pay for losses
  • Seeking more money to increase pleasure of gambling with higher stakes or frequency
  • Risking relationships or employment for the purpose of gambling
  • Showing aggressive or violent outburst while engaged in an event involving gambling
  • Asking friends or family for money that they cannot pay back
  • Being withdrawn from family, friends or work following losses
  • Attempting to injure oneself or attempted suicide due to feelings of failure or desperation

If you have a gambling problem or have a loved one or friend that you believe has a gambling problem, there are programs available to get help.  Support groups are available, such as Gamblers Anonymous  http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/ which provide a sponsor to guide and work with you to change your patterns related to gambling through mutually shared experiences and personal hardships related to such.  In addition, there are other therapies available such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy which looks to change unhealthy gambling behaviors, thoughts and urges.  It all starts with recognizing the symptoms and wanting to address the problem.

For more information on gambling addiction and problem gambling, please go to the following websites:

http://www.ncpgambling.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1                                                      http://www.800gambler.org/                                                                                                                                              http://www.healthybergen.org/                                                                                                                                              http://www.vantagenj.org/         

For more assistance on how to proceed with addressing gambling addiction, please contact Township of Teaneck, Social Services Specialist, Gloria Andrade at (201) 837-1600 (x1503)   or   gandrade@teanecknj.gov