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No age boundaries with gambling

April 3, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

Cause and effect. We learned about it in science class. For every action there is a reaction. Today, we'll call it action and consequence. The subject: adolescent gambling.

You might say that's not a problem in our area. There was a time when it was commonly believed that domestic violence didn't occur here, either. We know better than that now.

It's no secret that children mimic their role models as they learn behaviors. Parents, that is you, or whoever your children look up to when you're unavailable. Those who know say your teens will openly share their knowledge about gambling: what they know and how they do it. They don't perceive it as a problem because it's everywhere and socially acceptable: raffles at school, lottery tickets, perhaps a parent plays poker regularly. Teens are gambling.

Sports betting, craps, spreadsheets and bookies are terms in their vocabulary. Teens gamble before school, during school, after school and at home. Technology has made everything easier.

Statistics indicate that 4-6 percent of adolescents are pathological gamblers. That would be 16-24 students of a high school student body of 400. Of course, we all know that it only happens to other people's children.

"A significantly higher percentage gamble occasionally," according to Angie Moore, LCPC, CMADC, CCGC, PCGC in an article appearing in the spring and summer 2004 issue of Healing Magazine.

The National Institutes of Health reports, "Gambling is a popular and prevalent behavior among adolescents." Compared to adults, "adolescents have been found to have high rates of problem and pathological gambling. However, relatively few adolescents seek help for gambling problems."

"Pathological" is habitual, maladaptive and compulsive behavior. Gambling addiction is a persistent impulse that, for some, is hard to resist.

Gambling has become widely accepted. It may be a form of entertainment, but for some, adults and adolescents, it becomes a serious problem plagued with more debt than they can repay.

They may sell valued possessions to pay their gambling debts, or resort to borrowing money or stealing to come up with the money to pay their debts. Related problems may include depression or suicidal thoughts, anything that might end the downward spiral they are living.

Some questions to look at to determine if your or your loved one may have a gambling addiction and need help are:

- How much do you and your friends gamble?

- Where do you gamble? When? Do you skip school or work to gamble?

- How do you spend your free time? Why?

- What happens when you are winning? Losing?

- How do you feel when you're losing? Do you think you can win back your losses?

- Do you borrow money so you can gamble?

- Do you hide your gambling from your family?

- Do you fight with your family about your gambling?

- When you lose, how do you feel?

- Have you thought about suicide to resolve gambling problems?

- Do either of your parents gamble a lot?

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities. There is help for gambling addiction. For more information, contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC is funded in part by Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services (ODADAS) and the United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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