Gambling in of itself is not a bad practice. It can be an economic engine in a community, a form of entertainment, and a Yale University study has even found it to be stimulating to seniors. However, like so many activities, an interest in doing something can shift to become a compulsive obsession. This can lead to financial difficulty and duress upon other aspects of one’s life like marriage, career and future aspirations.
Compulsive gambling is not a physical addiction the way opioids or alcohol is, but it nonetheless is an addiction. Numbers vary, but is estimated that 2.6 percent of the U.S. population (or about 10 million people) struggles with gambling issues. Not surprisingly, statistics show that an estimated 65 percent of marriages with at least one gambling addict end in divorce. More than 85 percent of marriages with at least one gambling face threats from bill collectors and creditors.
Signs of problem gambling
According to the North American Foundation of Gambling Addiction Help, telltale signs of problem gambling include:
- Hiding the behavior: Like any addiction, gambling addicts will hide their gambling activity, including amount of money lost or time spent doing it.
- Unable to stop: There may be no money in the bank and the credit cards are maxed, but compulsive behavior pushes addicts to continue, sometimes even prompting them to steal or borrow.
- Denial: Even when others point out the issue, addicts will often deny the problem exists.
- A coping method: Addicts turn to gambling to solve problems (like debt) or to forget about the troubles they face.
Getting the help you need
Gambling addiction generally does not go away on its own without considerable effort from the addict and additional professional guidance. In some cases, it can lead to other risky behavior including suicidal thoughts or tendencies. Those looking for help and support can turn to a wide variety of resources for gambling addicts here in Colorado, including the state government’s problem gambling resources page.
Spouses of an addict may also want to speak with an attorney about divorce, particularly if the addict causing financial, emotional or even physical harm to the family. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help clients through these most challenging of circumstances.