Many young people don't know it, but betting or gambling can become addictive. In the same way that people become addicted to drugs and alcohol, some individuals can experience difficulty trying to stop gambling. Teens and young adults with gambling problems often have much higher rates of alcohol, drug, and tobacco use, struggle with depression, are more likely to commit crimes and to participate in other illegal and at-risk activities.
Gambling can become addictive, just like alcohol and drugs. However, compulsive gamblers often appear “normal” to others since there are no visible symptoms. Ultimately, college students with a gambling problem can risk ruining their lives at a period in time when they are first gaining independence and self-reliance. Gambling-driven decisions made by college-age students can have lifelong negative impacts.
College students with a gambling problem may:
•Spend money they don’t have
•Max-out credit cards
•Lie to family and friends
•Borrow and steal from others
•Use other people’s credit cards without permission
•Argue with family and friends about gambling
•Lose scholarship and job opportunities
•Commit crimes to gamble or pay off losses
•Fail or drop out of school
•Become depressed and have suicidal thoughts
Gambling among older adults is on the rise, largely due to the availability and accessibility of options in the state. When gambling becomes a problem among seniors, it can be particularly challenging since it occurs at a time in a person’s life when recouping financial losses can be very difficult, if not impossible.
For many seniors, gambling is an escape from boredom brought about by an increase of unstructured time after retirement, or following the death of a spouse or other loved one. For many, their social network may not be large enough to draw the necessary support. By 2020, there will be approximately 15 million Americans ages 65 and older living alone. As a result, many elders may turn to gambling, not only as a social and entertainment activity, but also as a means of trying to deal with the loss, the grief, and the time. However, gambling is not a risk-free activity, particularly among this population.
Anyone can suffer from a gambling problem, regardless of educational, cultural, financial, vocational or other background. The compulsive gambler could be your spouse or partner, friend, parent, child, co-worker, employer, or anyone else you know. It could even be you.
It’s important to acknowledge that compulsive gambling is a mental health disorder of impulse control and the effects can be devastating to individuals and those closest to the gambler. Fortunately, compulsive gambling is treatable. With proper help, problem gamblers can regain their lives, and family and friends can learn to cope and handle presenting challenges.
Who We Help
Similar to other addictive behaviors, problem gambling can be considered a precipitating factor in numerous ailments. Whether it is a mental health problem, increased chemical exposure and dependency or the overwhelming level of stress and anxiety, it's not too late to get help. By recognizing early signs of problems and motivating patients or clients to seek help, health care professionals for medical, addiction and mental health can help bridge the gap between another psychiatric disorder and a physical decline in health. Often, one of these patients is sitting in a health care facility waiting to be seen and hoping to be treated.