Every March the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) campaigns to spread awareness and reach out to those who may be struggling with a gambling addiction. There are many contributing factors that can lead to a gambling addiction: thrill seeking, entertainment, escape from life stressors, and desperation for money. Even if excessive gambling did not start because of money, oftentimes it is accompanied by financial problems such as consumer debt, owing others money, and stealing cash and goods.
According to the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, people who have problems with gambling often have problems with alcohol or other drugs. A recent study found that nearly 73% of those struggling with a gambling disorder also had an alcohol disorder and approximately 38% struggled with a co-occurring drug use disorder. Those struggling with gambling and substance use disorders often share the same traits; preoccupation with activity, intense craving, need to escape the pain, and inability to stop the activity despite persistent negative consequences.
Gambling addicts become fueled by the idea that if they win big or hit the jackpot, their debts and troubles will stop. There have been many Hollywood films that glamorize gambling but one recent release hones in on the addiction aspect and the vicious cycle that is gambling. Mississippi Grind starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn offers insight into a gambling addict’s life. His experiences are filled with highs and lows and a perpetual yearning for his big break that will solve all his problems. I recommend this movie to anyone who has an interest in this topic. You will witness his powerlessness every time he claims he “can’t go home empty handed” or that he will play “just one more round”.
NCPG encourages you to share your story on their Problem Gambling Awareness Facebook page and Twitter, using the hashtag #havetheconvo or #pgam.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction contact the National Problem Gambling Helpline at:
-Brina “BJ” Cash, MA, LPC-I, CART
~For Cease Addiction Now~