There was a lot to talk about this week at the New York State Council on Problem Gambling conference in Albany. Too many people are being caught up in the thrill of gaming entertainment to the point that their luck just runs out. Problems from gambling debt affect their families and our economy just like any other addiction or mental health problem. Gambling is risky behavior and the odds are always against you. As with any compulsive addictive behavior, it is the risk that gives you the thrill.
Most addictive behaviors begin in adolescence or early adulthood because the immature brain is more compulsive, so that is why we have age restrictions on drinking alcohol and purchasing lottery tickets. Yet, recent surveys showed 48 percent of seventh- to 12th-grade students in New York state said they had gambled in the past year. Children who begin gambling at an early age are at risk of developing a gambling problem as an adult. About 10 percent of adolescents in the state have reported problems from gambling. Many teenagers and adults with gambling problems report they started with lottery tickets often bought by family members. Gambling also is a big part of college campus life, and students are pressured by peers to join in.
Usually, parents have no clue that their teen is involved in gambling activities. Most parents never discuss gambling issues with their children.
Maybe you know someone with a gambling problem. Here are some warning signs:
Gambling is their main free-time occupation.
Thinks they will get rich if continue trying to win.
Chasing losses (trying to win back lost money).
Lying about gambling.
Borrowing , stealing or embezzling money.
Risking relationships or job to gamble.
Help is available at 1-877-846-7369, or from the HFM Prevention Council at 736-8188 or 548-5710.
Prevention educator at HFM Prevention Council