“Even as I approach the gambling hall, as soon as I hear, two rooms away, the jingle of money poured out on the table, I almost go into convulsions.” - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Since the passing of the Massachusetts Gambling Bill in October 2011, the debate rages on about the impact that casinos will have on MA residents. The Boston Globe has an entire section online dedicated to updates regarding gambling in MA. Depending on who you speak to, it’s either a financial windfall that will boost our cash-strapped state or the beginning of the end of our communities as we now know them.
Whatever your opinion, there is no doubt that in the same way people can misuse drugs, alcohol, food, and sex, leading to major abuse and addiction, gambling misuse can also lead to addiction. The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling shares the following statistics on their website: “Research has estimated that … approximately 2-3% of [Massachusetts]'s population has experienced disordered gambling in their lifetimes”. If MA has approximately 6.5 million people living here, that’s up to 200,000 people. This addiction could now be impacting maybe up to a million people, if you consider that for every one person living with this addiction, there are at least 3-4 people who know and care about this person (family, friends, roommates, partners, children etc…). With numbers like that, up to 1 in 6 being impacted, it’s hard to say ”I don’t know anyone who has this problem!”
Compulsive gambling can result in social, emotional and financial devastation, including loss of relationships, homes, emotional or physical health, and career or educational opportunities.
We at the IIIC have seen how pathological gambling (in it’s most serious form) can lead to stress, depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide. With that in mind, it’s vital to share the key signs and what support is available for those living with this addiction.
No one plans to have a problem with gambling but ask yourself the following: Have you ever borrowed money in order to gamble or to cover lost money? Have you ever thought you might have a gambling problem, or been told that you might? Have you ever been untruthful about the extent of your gambling, or hid betting slips, lottery tickets, gambling money or other signs of betting from others? Have you ever tried to stop or cut back on how much or how often you gamble? Do you think you love a Problem Gambler?
Check out the signs here: http://www.gam-anon.org/living.htm#grow
Change is ALWAYS possible but sometimes we need support. We never plan to have problems with gambling but if you are worried, there is support. Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling (www.masscompulsivegambling.org or their free helpline: 1(800) 426-1234) offers information and support from specially trained helpline and one to one counselors. If you are not sure if you do have a problem, contact Danielle, in confidence and without judgment, at the IIIC, by phone at 617-542-7654 ext. 14 or by e-mail at dowen@iicenter.org.