Certified Gambling Addictions Coach: Pathological Gamblers Need Your Help, You Can Bet On It!
In the United States, a report by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide. The Council also said suicide rates among pathological gamblers are higher than any other addictive disorder. The suicide rate is higher for people who gamble, and for their families. Those with mental health issues are at an even greater risk. Those addicted to illicit drugs and alcohol are also at greater risk.
I remember when I was in Blackjack Dealer School in 1993; they said that within a few years there would be casinos popping up in every state, they were right. Gambling, it’s everywhere you look! In every gas station, grocery store, liquor store, the internet, and casinos are everywhere! Don’t forget the Stock Market, thousands of people gamble every day. Scratch-off instant lottery tickets sell for as high as thirty dollars each. There are fifty or more different types of lottery tickets and all kinds of weekly lottery games. There are even vending machines that sell scratch-offs. There are advertisements everywhere, billboards and commercials. The casinos use a player card system where they give comp dollars for average bet and time played. An average player will get free rooms, food coupons, free play, free shows, invitations to parties, etc.; high rollers don’t pay for anything, plane tickets, limo service, free meals, etc. This feeds right into the damaged ego of the addict. Imagine someone who has low self-esteem who suddenly is treated like a king or queen. This is a fantasy world that ends when the money runs out. If you have seen the movie “National Lampoons Vegas Vacation” and Rusty Griswold gambles (with a fake ID) and pretends to be Nick Papagiorgio. He wins and they comp him like crazy. That is a little bit like it really can be for high rollers.
Even the tough economy that we’re all living with doesn’t stop gambling. The hope of the big win keeps the rich and the poor gambling. The recent closings of The Revel Casino and The Showboat casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey show that the casino industry isn’t doing that well. People have less money for entertainment. The pathological gamblers won’t slow down because of the economy. In fact, it may even make the situation more extreme.
In 1998, Planet Poker dealt the first real money online poker game. In 1999, Late Night Poker debuted on British television. Beginning in 2003, major poker tournament fields grew dramatically, in part because of the growing popularity of online satellite-qualifier tournaments where the prize is an entry into a major tournament. The 2003 and 2004 World Series of Poker champions, Chris Moneymaker and “Fossil Man”, Greg Raymer, respectively, won their seats to the main event by winning online satellites. Certain networks started using table cameras so that those watching on TV could see the player’s hole cards. This helped the popularity of poker to explode!
Problem gambling, or ludomania, is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling often is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behavior. Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria. Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs. “Pathological gambling” is the most severe form of problem gambling and has been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a disease since 1980. Gaming or gambling is supposed to be for fun, for entertainment.
Teenagers are 3 to 4 times more likely to become problem gamblers than adults. 90% of High School students have gambled at least once in the last year. In the USA ages 14-21, 2.1% struggle with Problem Gambling, another 6.5% are at risk. Every year, 2% -3%, 2M U.S. adults are estimated to meet the criteria for disordered gambling, while another 4-6M individuals are problem gamblers at risk for serious addiction consequences. Men make up 2/3 majority of Problem Gamblers.
The process addiction is growing! If you work in the recovery field you should learn about this specialized field. Millions of people need help! Are you prepared to help a pathological gambler? The Addictions Academy is offering training monthly. Call Cali Estes at 1.800.706.0318 to register for class today. www.theaddictionsacademy.com.
-Rev. Kevin T. Coughlin, PHD. Faculty at The Addictions Academy