The term addiction usually brings to mind alcohol abuse, drugs such as heroin, and other dangerous proclivities. However, an aspect of addiction that is often overlooked is gambling addiction. Gambling addiction manifests itself in various different forms, such as spending time and money at the casino, cad game gambling, sports betting, off-track betting, or OTB, and many other ways. Gambling addiction is present in roughly 6-8 million Americans and while many addiction programs focus on drugs and alcohol, gambling addiction plays just as big a role in an individual’s wellness as any other substance.
We find ourselves right smack in the middle of March Madness, or the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. This time of year can be fun for those who enter a small pool at work or amongst a group of friends but for others with a gambling addiction, this time of year presents countless threats to mental health, physical health, and overall wellness.
The addiction to gambling is rooted in the chance of winning and addicts are drawn to the potential of winning large sums of money after entering much smaller amounts. However, when many are able to call it quits and walk away to protect their wellness, addicts are unable to do so. They keep going and going until sometimes, all is lost and they find themselves losing significant assets in the process.
Sometimes, gambling addicts use their house as collateral. Other times, material possessions are involved. Loan sharks, or people who provide money for gamblers to use and pay back upon the completion of gambling exploits, only exacerbate the problem.
In terms of the health and wellness effects of gambling addiction, the list is endless. The mental health consequences of losing large sums of money or assets via gambling are depression, anxiety, and many other conditions, which in turn contribute to a deteriorated physiological health status as well. Countless studies link certain mental health conditions to many chronic diseases. Ken Martz, the head of the Pennsylvania State Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs claims that research in his state has pointed to gambling as the number one underlying cause of suicide.
Gambling addiction is definitely a serious concern and it cannot be forgotten in the midst of increasing addiction programs for alcohol and drug addicts. Gambling addiction is a slippery slope and next time you decide to enter a March Madness pool, ensure yourself that it will not impact your overall health and wellness.
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