Gambling: Just as dangerous as drugs?

Ashley Langford The LCADA Way

Ashley Langford The LCADA Way

With the Kentucky Derby this weekend, what better time to educate yourself on the potential risks of gambling?

Gambling is the act of risking something of value on an event with an uncertain outcome in hopes of winning something even more valuable. While gambling is a relatively harmless pastime for many, approximately five percent of Ohioans have a gambling problem.

Nearly every month of the year there are major popularized gambling events: the Superbowl (February), March Madness (March-April), the Kentucky Derby (May), major league professional sports (baseball, hockey, basketball), and fantasy football (September-January). Couple this with many ongoing opportunities to gamble: casinos, lottery tickets, Internet cafes and other online gambling, bingo, Keno, and gaming apps, and you can see why a problem can develop. With so many opportunities, it is estimated nearly three-fourths of adults wager money.

Contrary to popular belief, gambling can be just as addictive as drugs or alcohol. Pathological gambling is defined as an uncontrollable urge to continue gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. The American Psychiatric Association has identified pathological gambling as an addiction. Gambling addiction affects two million Americans but only seven to 12 percent of those people seek the help they need.

Here are a few of the risk factors for developing a gambling addiction:

• The three most susceptible age groups are adolescents, young adults, and senior citizens. Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk due to their impulsivity and their desire to re-experience the “thrill” of gambling, while senior citizens often gamble to relieve isolation, loneliness, and depression.

• Many compulsive gamblers have pre-existing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or substance use disorders. While they perceive gambling as a relief from these disorders, gambling actually makes these conditions worse over time.

• Individuals who have a family member with problem gambling are more prone to developing a problem themselves. While this may be the result of early exposure to gambling, research suggests that there may be a genetic component as well.

If you suspect that you or a loved one may have a gambling problem, The LCADA Way can help. The LCADA Way is a nonprofit organization that provides treatment services for problem gambling, mental health issues, and alcohol/drug disorders.

Please feel free to contact us at any time at 440-989-4900 and confidentially speak with someone in our intake department.

Ashley Langford The LCADA Way Langford The LCADA Way