March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM)! The goal of this campaign is to educate the public and healthcare professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and promote the availability of help and hope both locally and nationally. Most adults gamble or know someone who gambles, and therefore could benefit from programs to prevent gambling addiction. Many people suffer in silence because they don’t know why they developed a problem, what gambling addiction is or where to get help.
What is Problem Gambling?
Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits. The essential features are increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide.
Can You be a Problem Gambler if you Don’t Gamble Every Day?
The frequency of a person’s gambling does not determine whether or not they have a gambling problem. Even though the problem gambler may only go on periodic gambling binges, the emotional and financial consequences will still be evident in the gambler’s life, including the effects on the family.
Resources for Gambling Help:
• Gamblers Anonymous (www.gamblersanonymous.org)
Is fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.
• Gam-Anon (www.gam-anon.org)
Is a self-help organization for the spouse, family or close friends of compulsive gamblers.
National Problem Gambling Helpline
The Problem Gambling Network of Ohio
Westgate Tower Building
20525 Center Ridge Road Suite 303
Rocky River, OH 44116