Hanover, Va. — When the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers go head to head on Sunday, millions of Americans will be betting on which team will take home the Lombardi Trophy. Unfortunately, no matter which team wins, the outcome will be a loss for problem and compulsive gamblers.
"The game on Sunday is the biggest sporting event of the year, but it's also a major event for gamblers," said Bob Cabaniss, executive director of Williamsville Wellness and a recovering gambling addict. "Big games mean big bets and even bigger risks. All sports fans need to be aware of problem gambling's warning signs so we can protect and help our loved ones before their gambling becomes a serious issue."
Based just outside of Richmond, Va., Williamsville Wellness is the only treatment facility in the United States licensed to treat gambling addiction. The staff also frequently treats depression, emotional disorders and substance abuse, as they are all commonly linked to gambling addiction.
There are more than 3 million problem gamblers in the United States and the number is growing. Gambling addiction is not an isolated illness.
Identifying addiction warning signs can help identify whether a common pastime has slipped into a compulsive, dangerous addiction.
Gambling addiction warning signs in adults can include:
- Talks about betting frequently
- Commits financially driven crimes (ex: check forgery, tax fraud)
- Increase in tobacco, alcohol and drug use
- Reads sports pages compulsively
- Never admits to losing
- Borrows excessive money from friends
- Has multiple credit cards
- Does not pay bills on time or at all
- More irritable, restless and isolative than usual
In adolescents, warning signs for gambling addiction include:
- Frequent dice or card games at home
- Frequent school absences
- Withdrawal from family
- Drop in school grades and extracurricular activities
- Lies about whereabouts
- Increased irritability
- Excessive internet use
Those who identify with several of the symptoms above could be a compulsive gambler and should seek counseling and treatment.