For many people, buying lottery tickets, betting on horses, playing cards for money or feeding slot machines is nothing more than a fun pastime.
But for some people, gambling games can become an uncontrollable and necessary part of life. In these cases, the need to gamble can turn into an addiction known clinically as pathological gambling. The key to overcoming gambling addiction is to identify the problem and find help.
Recognize the symptoms
You might have a gambling problem if you have the following symptoms:
- You gamble because you’re bored or alone.
- You constantly think about gambling, and you want to play to win money.
- You want to gamble more, and you dedicate more time to gambling than anything else in your life.
- You spend most of your money, and you have trouble paying your bills.
- You feel guilty after gambling, but you don’t stop doing it.
- You lie to your friends about your habit because you feel embarrassed by it.
- Gambling interferes with your work, and it causes problems with family and friends.
Look for help
If not treated, a gambling addiction can lead to anxiety, stress and depression.
If you think you have a problem, reach out to a trusted family member or friend, and seek help from a therapist. You can also attend recovery programs that offer group sessions or individual treatment.
There are nonprofit organizations that specialize in helping people with their gambling problem. Gamblers Anonymous and the National Council on Problem Gambling are good resources and have hotlines all over the United States. If you need immediate help, you can call the national hotline 24 hours a day at 1-800-522-4700.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, which helps raise awareness of the resources available to those who are feeling anxiety and depression that could lead to suicide.
Some warning signs of suicide can include:
Talking about being a burden to others
Intense mood swings
Withdrawing from their normal routine
Behaving unlike themselves, sometimes recklessly
A rise in their drug or alcohol use
National and local events are being held throughout the week including ribbon awareness day, a live Twitter chat today and many other opportunities to get involved and help your loved ones.
Join the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for a Twitter chat today at 2 p.m. ET. Dr. Lisa Horowitz, a senior clinician on the Psychiatric Consultation-Liaison Service in NIMH’s Office of the Clinical Director, will be chatting live. She developed a suicide screening tool that emergency department doctors and nurses can use to detect youth at risk for attempting suicide.
To join the chat, follow along on Twitter @MIMHgov and use the #NIMHchats hashtag.
If you or someone you know has talked about suicide or is thinking about committing suicide and needs help please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Asked by Anonymous
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Assistance Program provides children and people with low incomes access to food, a healthful diet, and nutrition education. They offer a number of programs, such as:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also called food stamps,
- school meal programs, and
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides assistance to pregnant and postpartum women, and their children.
SNAP benefits, or food stamps, are handled at the state level. Find out how to apply for food stamps in your state.
Learn more about nutrition assistance programs and find out if you qualify.