This column appears in the Nevada Appeal’s Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Gambling comes in many different forms, including slot machines, betting on sport books, buying raffle tickets or lottery tickets, or playing bingo. Throughout Nevada, gambling seems to be a part of our social culture and many residents and visitors view it as harmless fun. However, according to the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, 6 percent of adults in Nevada, or one out of every 17, struggles with problem gambling that negatively impacts their life. Problem gambling is defined as any behavior toward gambling that disrupts a person’s life, causes conflict in their relationships, causes financial strain, or even interferes with work.
Residents of Nevada are not alone when it comes to problem gambling. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, approximately 4-6 million Americans are considered problem gamblers nationwide. Oftentimes, a gambling problem is also associated with other addiction issues; approximately 75 percent of gamblers have had problems with alcohol, 38 percent have had issues with drugs, and 20 percent have attempted or thought about suicide.
In addition to substance use and mental health concerns, there are other consequences that come along with problem gambling. A majority of problem gamblers will suffer financial consequences such as being short on money, overdue bills, no savings, and in some cases homelessness. Another consequence that comes with problem gambling is the emotional impact it has on the gambler’s life and the lives of their family and friends. Problem gambling, like most addictions, does not discriminate. While it is not possible to predict exactly who may develop a gambling problem, once identified, it can be treated and people do recover.
March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Have the Conversation.” If you suspect you, or someone you love, has a gambling problem, Carson City Health and Human Services encourages you to talk with your family, friends, or health care provider. If you are unsure if a gambling problem exists, a few signs that could point to a problem include:
Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling;
Gambling when there is no money left;
Knowing a problem exists, but denying the existence of a problem.
There are numerous treatment options for those suffering from a gambling addiction. Having a conversation with your healthcare provider can help get you connected to right kind of treatment for you.
The more aware we are as a society about problem gambling, the better prepared we are to “have the conversation.” The National Council on Problem Gambling provides different resources through its website, www.ncpgambling.org, to help with a problem gambling. It offers screening tools to see if you have a problem, it can help find counseling providers in your area, and it has a national help line, 1-800-522-4700, that you can call or text at any time of the day. Its website is a great support system for anyone who is struggling with a gambling problem. You can also access assistance through the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling website at www.nevadacouncil.org. We encourage you to seek help for you or your loved ones if gambling is a problem.
For information about services and programs available to you through Carson City Health and Human Services, please visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/cchhs, or call us at 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.