The Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on commercial sports betting in 2018, making it legal in 32 states and DC
At the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, which I direct, I hear from many people who struggle with problem gambling.
A college student lost all his money, overcharged his credit card, and went broke. He always thought he would win big. He kept telling himself that he didn’t have a problem because he wasn’t fully in debt yet, but that he was close to financial ruin. He eventually had to tell his parents what he had done.
Another player said he had a big win early in his life and felt it made him think another big win was around the corner. He tried to chase his losses and vowed that if he ever broke even, he would quit. That day never came. At one point he became suicidal and sought help from Gamblers Anonymous.
In the United States, according to most studies, between 1 and 6 percent of adults are addicted to gambling. Popular forms of gambling include casino gambling, electronic gambling and slot machines, lottery tickets, horse racing, dog racing, bingo, personal gaming, sports betting, fantasy sports and internet gaming.
Sports betting is growing in popularity and tends to attract a younger, mostly male demographic. Most states already have some form of legalized sports betting, and sportsbooks are moving fast to make gambling accessible from your phone. Sports betting went live in Maryland last week. Sports betting is also finding its way into the stadiums. For example, Maryland’s recent gaming expansion allows for the installation of gaming terminals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, M&T Bank Stadium and FedEx Field.
Is it possible to enjoy the excitement of betting on your favorite World Cup game and avoid the pitfalls of gambling addiction? Look out for these signs that gambling is becoming a problem:
Do you gamble?
A man in his early 20s who gambles turned to our center for help. After graduating from college, he should be looking for a job. Instead, he was busy placing new bets and monitoring games.
If you think about gambling all day and can’t wait to start placing bets online, then you become increasingly concerned with gambling. Constantly planning gambling activities and focusing on getting more money to play with are signs that gambling is having a negative impact on your daily life.
Do you have gambling withdrawal symptoms?
Just like people with chemical addictions, those with gambling addictions can experience serious withdrawal. A young recovering sports player tried to stop gambling. But with his friends betting on sporting events, it made him anxious and irritable.
Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop gambling? Withdrawal symptoms can cause both emotional symptoms, such as irritability and depression, and physical symptoms, such as sweating, headaches, heart palpitations, and muscle tension.
Do you hide your gambling activities?
A man in his thirties had lost all his life savings and was constantly trying to borrow money. His lies and cover-up of his gambling activities had destroyed many of his relationships with family and friends. If you have a gambling problem, you can try to hide your gambling by hiding receipts or bank statements. You can lie about where you want to avoid being questioned or accused of gambling.
When you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, it’s important to know that help is out there and readily available.
How to find advice and treatment for gambling addiction
Some states offer free counseling and treatment. You can call the national helpline for advice and support: 1-800-522-4700. You can also go online to the National Council on Problem Gambling. In Maryland, the Helpline [1-800-GAMBLER] provides easy access to peer rehabilitation support specialists and treatment providers. Text and chat services are also available. Peers are people with gambling addiction experience who can support those struggling with the problem to get the help they need. Assistance is available 24/7 via the Helpline.
If it’s difficult to connect with help, here are some strategies to protect yourself:
Visualize the negative effects of gambling. Imagine what could happen if you give in to gambling. Think about how you will feel after losing all your money and disappointing yourself and those you care about. It takes tremendous strength and courage to commit to and break the habit and rebuild your life.
Connect with people. If a gambling craving arises, consider calling or meeting a trusted family member or friend, or going to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting to avoid isolation. This can help you deal with your emotions and get help from others.
talk about it You can fight the urge to gamble Tell yourself that you will wait five minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour, which will help slow down the urge to gamble and make it easier to resist. Mindfulness and imaginary desensitization, a technique that uses imagery to help people with certain types of disorders with impulse control elements, are key to breaking down maladaptive coping strategies such as avoidance, wishful thinking, social withdrawal, and self-criticism. For example, instead of imagining placing another bet on the game, you would imagine the time you will be spending with family.
Make an alternate plan. Gambling can be a way to calm uncomfortable emotions, relax, or socialize. But there are healthier and more effective ways to control your mood and relieve boredom. Try a different activity, e.g. B. watching a movie or doing relaxation exercises to avoid cravings for gambling.
Mary Drexler, MSW, is director of the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, a program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The center promotes healthy and informed choices regarding gambling and problem gambling.
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