Problem Gambling Awareness Month
What is PGAM?
The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) started Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM) in 2003. Groups across America hold conferences, air Public Service Announcements, provide counselor training, host health screening days, run social media campaigns, and many other activities to increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
Our great state of Michigan officially recognizes March as Problem Gambling Awareness Month. This presents a great opportunity to discuss the inherent risks associated with all forms of gambling and provide our community members with information and resources related to the “hidden addiction.”
Every year, Michigan residents spend billions of dollars on legal gambling. Lottery games, pull-tabs, scratch-offs, horse racing, casinos, sports betting, and on-line gambling are all available now. Consumers need to be aware that these activities are not risk-free and can lead to the development of a gambling disorder. If you, or someone, you know needs help with a gambling problem, help is available 24/7 by calling the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-270-7117.
What is problem gambling?
Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family, or vocational pursuits. The symptoms include increasing preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, “chasing” losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious, negative consequences. In extreme cases, problem gambling can result in financial ruin, legal problems, loss of career and family, or even suicide. For more information on the American Psychiatric Association’s criteria for gambling addiction, please see the DSM 5 at www.psych.org.
Who is at risk for problem gambling?
Anyone who gambles can develop problems, and these problems can begin early or late in life. This is why it is important to be aware of the risks and to gamble in a responsible way if you choose to gamble. When gambling behavior interferes with finances, relationships, and the workplace, a serious problem already exists.
Can you have a gambling problem if you don’t gamble every day?
The frequency of a person’s gambling does not determine whether or not they have a gambling problem. Even though a person may only go on periodic gambling binges, the emotional and financial consequences will still be evident in the individual’s life, including the effects on the family.
What are the warning signs?
These warning signs could indicate a need for further assessment to identify a gambling disorder.
- Neglecting bills or other financial obligations
- Using money set aside for savings, investment, or retirement to gamble
- Large credit card debt as a result of gambling
- Keeping gambling activities secret from friends and/or family
- Changes in mood based on wins and losses
- Skipping school, work, or other activities in favor of gambling
- Lying about the amount or frequency of gambling
- Stealing or selling items to get gambling money
- Gambling to help forget problems
- Frequent and unexplained needs for more money
- Possessing large, unexplained amounts of money
For more information and screening tools visit: https://www.ncpgambling.org/
10 Tips for Responsible Gambling
If you do choose to gamble, there are some things you can do to reduce the chances of developing a gambling disorder. Implementing these strategies can help you keep gambling a fun, exciting, and manageable form of entertainment.
- Expect to lose.
- Avoid gambling when angry, lonely, stressed, depressed, or upset.
- Don’t “chase” your losses by making bigger bets to win back the money you have lost.
- Don’t think of gambling as a way to make money, but rather as an enjoyable form of entertainment performed in moderation.
- Set money and time limits for gambling and stick to them.
- Don’t use your credit cards or borrow money to gamble.
- Don’t gamble under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Take regular breaks from gambling and engage in other enjoyable forms of entertainment.
- Create balance in your life.
- Educate yourself about problem gambling.
When gambling starts negatively affecting relationships, finances, and mental health, it’s not fun anymore. If someone you care about might have a gambling problem, you can help win them back by calling the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-800-270-7117.