Gambling for fun or something more?

With the recent increase in casinos and racinos in Southwest Ohio, more and more people are hitting the slots. Gambling can be a really fun way to relieve stress, but too often it becomes a source of stress. How can you tell if you’re addicted to gambling? What are the consequences?

Here are some signs and dangers of a gambling addiction to watch out for.

How can I tell if I might need help?

  • Have you needed to gamble with more and more money to get the excitement you are looking for?
  • Have you become restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling?
  • Do you gamble as a way to escape from a problem, a feeling of anxiety or depression or to feel better about yourself?
  • After losing money gambling, have you returned another day in order to get even?
  • Have you lied to your family or others to hide the extent of your gambling?
  • Have you risked or lost a significant relationship, educational or career opportunity because of gambling?
  • Have you sought help from others to provide the money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling?

What are some ways I can avoid becoming addicted to gambling?

Take only what you can afford to lose.

How much would you spend on a normal night of entertainment? A nice dinner, a few drinks and a movie? A sports game? Don’t take more money with you to the casino than you would spend on a regular night out. Don’t make trips to the ATM while gambling. If you will be tempted, consider not even bringing your credit card.

Limit your gambling time. Set time limits for how long you will stay at the casino. While you are there, consider even setting time limits at each machine or table.

Priorities, priorities, priorities. Keep your priorities straight. You wouldn’t miss your daughter’s birthday celebration, a work event or church for “just a hobby.” Don’t miss it for gambling.

Just don’t go. Of course, the best practice if you are worried about becoming addicted to anything, is abstaining.

For more ways to tell if you are addicted to gambling, or to learn about local counseling or educational programs for gambling addicts, contact Steve Cahill, director of alcohol and drug services at Community Behavioral Health at 513-868-5105 or email scahill@community-first.org.

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