For most people, gambling is a form of entertainment. Few people realize that for some people, gambling can become a devastating addiction, destroying families and relationships as well as negatively impacting careers. For some, this addiction becomes so strong that it overtakes moral values and results in crimes to obtain more money for gambling. With more and more gambling opportunities becoming available in Maryland, it is essential for everyone to recognize the signs and symptoms of gambling problems and how to get help.
That's why NAMI Maryland has partnered with the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, a program of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to promote healthy and informed choices regarding gambling and problem gambling through public awareness, training, education, prevention, peer recovery support, research, and public policy. NAMI Maryland works with the Center to not only expand outreach and education, but to help understand the connection between mental illness and gambling addiction.
What is a Gambling Problem?
A gambling problem generally has two key features. The first is impaired control. This means not being able to stick to limits of the amount of money and/or time that is spent gambling. The second feature is that the gambling causes personal emotional, financial, relationship, or legal problems.
These issues not only impact the person who is gambling, but also frequently cause distress for family and friends. Gambling problems can be mild or quite severe and often worsen over time.
Warning Signs of a Gambling Problem:
- Spending more money than intended when gambling
- Gambling for longer periods of time than intended
- Getting into serious financial trouble due to gambling
- Lying to cover up gambling losses
- Using gambling to escape personal problems and distressing feelings
- Thinking about gambling to an obsessive amount
- Being unable to set limits
- Gambling in spite of losing more than can be afforded
- Problems paying bills or being unable to pay bills because of gambling losses
- Gambling to cover losses
- Destrorying families and relationships because of gambling
- Borrowing or stealing money from friends, family, or employers to keep up the gambling addiction
- Experiencing poor job performance or losing a job due to gambling addiction
If you are worried you or someone you know may have a gambling problem, you can take this quick online assessment.
Not sure how Problem Gambling relates to mental health? Take a look at these recorded webinars:
- 5/3/21: What is Problem Gambling and How Does it Relate to Mental Health?
- 3/7/23: An Introduction to Problem Gambling and Screening Tools for Gambling Disorder