Millions of Americans are estimated to meet the criteria for problem gambling, but for many, gambling is a hidden addiction. National Problem Gambling Awareness Month is intended to raise public awareness about problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
How do you know when gambling has crossed the line from a harmless activity to a problem? Signs include:
- Trying to control or stop gambling without success
- Being preoccupied with gambling; planning how to get more gambling money and lying about the extent of the time and money spent on gambling
- Gambling in spite of serious consequences, such as loss of a job, family conflict, divorce, or financial problems
- Gambling more in an effort to win back lost money
- Committing theft or fraud for gambling money
Problem gambling or a gambling addiction can contribute to poor mental and physical health. The good news is, recovery is possible. Treatment for compulsive gambling may include cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy, medications such as anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, and self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous.