Many people enjoy an occasional evening of gambling at the casino. And, many gamblers come home with a little extra money in their pockets and good memories of a pleasant outing with friends. For those of us who live in Genesee County, there are several casinos nearby: Soaring Eagle in Mt. Pleasant, Greektown, Motor City and MGM Grand casinos in Detroit, Saganing Eagles Landing in Standish – all just a short drive away.
Excitement is in the air and the sounds of the bells and whistles from the slot machines draw you in. You’re feeling pretty lucky, so you sit down at your favorite slot machine and go for the big win, play a hand of blackjack or take a spin at the roulette wheel. But as they say, the odds are not in your favor and the house always wins – you’ll more than likely go home with empty pockets or even worse, a drained bank account.
Many gamblers go back again, and again and again trying to win back what they have gambled away. Maybe luck will be on their side this time – maybe not. Some gamblers hide their compulsion from family members and problems are mounting. This eventually begs an answer to the question: Am I addicted to gambling?
Problem gambling isn’t just about losing money, it can affect a person’s whole life. According to greatlakespsychology.com, gambling becomes a problem when it interferes with work, school or other activities, harms your mental or physical health, hurts you financially, damages your reputation or causes problems with your family or friends.
Why do people gamble?
According to the Michigan Association on Problem Gambling (MAPG), for many people, it is a recreational activity, and the loss of money is considered the price of the entertainment. Senior citizens gamble for many reasons including boredom, escape, loneliness and excitement/social interaction. The casino provides transportation and a facility with guards and other watchful eyes, so they feel safe.
Where can you get help?
There are places that can help if you are addicted to gambling. The MAPG is a nonprofit corporation organized in 2003 to help individuals who develop problems related to their gambling. The organization takes a neutral stance on gambling and gaming in Michigan. It is committed to providing education on how to keep gambling a recreation, providing resources for those who gamble more than they can afford, and advocating services for those who develop a gambling disorder. According to statistics, approximately 150,000 people in the state of Michigan have struggled with gambling disorder.
If you think you may have a problem, a trained gambling treatment therapist can help you set up a treatment plan, but it is up to individuals whether they select a goal of abstinence or harm-reduction.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA) requires a choice of abstinence. The gambler may decide, at first, to limit the harm and then discover that it isn’t working and a goal of abstinence is necessary. Some people can bring their life back into balance without the help of therapy or GA. But if you do have a problem, the best chance for recovery, according to research, is gambling-specific therapy and attending GA meetings.
Help is available by calling 800.270.7117 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Help Line receiver will direct you to the nearest trained counselor for gambling recovery. You will also be directed to the nearest GA meeting. Gamblers will increase their likelihood of recovery by attending a minimum of 16 sessions. To find the nearest GA or GamAnon meeting, visit gamblersanonymous.org and gam-anon.org. Don’t bet with your life!
Where to Get Help:
National Problem Gambling Helpline
or Text 800.522.4700
Michigan Association on Problem Gambling
1128 Wethersfield Dr. S.
Portage, MI 49002
Contact: Michael Burke
Self-Help Resources Gamblers Anonymous
Gambling becomes a problem when it interferes with work, school or other activities, harms your mental or physical health, hurts you financially, damages your reputation or causes problems with your family or friends.
20 Questions: Are you a compulsive gambler?
To help you determine whether you have a problem with gambling, visit: gamblersanonymous.org/ga/content/20-questions. Answer the questions (listed below) and then, view the comments based on your answers.
- Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
- Has gambling ever made your homelife unhappy?
- Did gambling affect your reputation?
- Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
- Did you ever gamble to get money for payment of debts or to otherwise solve financial difficulties?
- Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
- After losing, did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
- After a win, did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
- Did you often gamble until all your money was gone?
- Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
- Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
- Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
- Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
- Did you ever gamble longer than you planned?
- Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom, loneliness, grief or loss?
- Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
- Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
- Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
- Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune with a few hours of gambling?
- Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?