With some many recent large lottery jackpots, who doesn’t spend some time thinking about what they would do with all of that money? We could stop working, travel and afford the house of our dreams. Many of us will purchase a few tickets or contribute to a lottery pool at work. While this may start out as “just for fun” and a few dollars a week, for some it can turn into an addiction and hundreds of dollars a week. In recent years, accessibility to gambling has made it easier for more Americans to gamble on a regular basis. With 43 states that participate in state lotteries, 20 states that allow commercial casinos and the availability of online gaming via the internet, we don’t have to look very far to gamble. Statistics from the National Council on Problem Gambling show that 2 – 3% of Americans or 6 – 9 million Americans will have a gambling problem in any given year. So how do we know if it is a problem, or just having a little fun? If we can answer “yes” to several of the questions below, we may have a problem.
1. Are you spending more than 1 hour per week gambling? Instead of playing only when the jackpot is really high, are you playing every week or every day?
2. Are you hiding your gambling from your spouse or loved ones? Do you cover up your gambling?
3. Are you using credit cards to finance gambling? With credit cards, it is very easy to continue spending without realizing how much you are spending.
4. Are you borrowing money to continue gambling? It can be from family, friends, and banks or in severe cases a loan shark.
5. Are you setting a spending limit, but then play “just one more time”? If you are regularly exceeding the limits that you set for gambling instead of walking away, you may have a problem.
6. Are your personal relationships suffering? Is the time and money being spent gambling causing a strain in your relationships with your family and friends?
7. When you lose, do you attempt to regain your losses by gambling more? Once you lose, do you feel the need to play more in order to “win back” the money you lost?
Addiction is a serious illness. Whether it is an addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling, it should be taken seriously and those affected need to seek help. If you or someone you love is struggling with this addiction, you can find resources for getting help at http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/. Don’t wait until it is too late.
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