In honor of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the New York Council on Problem Gambling has joined forces with the National Council on Problem Gambling, New England Consortium of Problem Gambling Providers, and New York State Prevention Providers, to encourage families, friends, and organizations, to have the conversation about problem gambling during the month of March.
March has become one of the biggest gambling occasions because of the popularity of the NCAA "March Madness" Basketball Tournament. A 2009 Microsoft survey estimated that 58 million Americans fill out sports brackets each year, and according to a Las Vegas odds maker, about $12 billion is wagered on the March Madness tournament, making March the largest month for individual bets.
March is also Problem Gambling Awareness Month and year's theme is "Problem Gambling: Have the Conversation." Between six and nine million people meet criteria for gambling problems, and it is estimated that each person with a gambling problem affects between 8-10 others. Problem gambling impacts relationships, families, businesses and communities. Gambling disorders create physical and mental health problems including a higher risk of suicide, domestic violence, bankruptcy, and work performance issues.
Only a fraction of problem gamblers seek help. Many who suffer in silence do so because they don't know they developed a problem, what gambling addiction is, or where to get help. Gambling disorders are too devastating to individuals and society to allow to go unnoticed and unattended.
Signs and symptoms that there may be a problem with gambling may include: participating in cards, lottery, or office pools often, using sick time to gamble, talk or worry about money problems, a history of writing bad checks, unable to explain the origin of new items of value and possession, and any change in personality or behavior, particularly hypertension, ulcers, or depression.
Overcoming a gambling addiction isn't easy but there are programs to help. For more information call SCCASA at 518-234-8705. To find out more information call 1-877-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369).
- Norine Hodges