Are you a problem gambler?

Problem gamblers have a difficult time admitting that they have problems with gambling. Thus, it takes a little time to get them hooked up with the help they need to take back their lives and heal.

Sophie works hard to earn her money. She likes to watch her savings increase little by little to a small nest egg. A friend invited Sophie to go to bingo. They enjoyed the good time together, so she continued to go. But she set a few rules for herself:

She spends the minimum amount, around $25, for her cards. That was her original investment, and she won that first night. She made up her mind that she would go to bingo until her winnings were depleted, less the initial investment in the entertainment.

She sees the gambling as a social activity for entertainment. She doesn’t want gambling to become a problem. And she won’t spend more than the $25 each night that she goes.

Bingo isn’t the only form of gambling in the region. There are horse races, lottery tickets and other venues for gambling.

Beginning Nov. 1, the Ohio Lottery Commission’s 6,000 self-service terminals were authorized by the state of Ohio to accept credit/debit cards because these days, fewer people carry cash. There is a daily spending limit ($100) on each card.

The Problem Gambling Network of Ohio is concerned about possible abuses of credit/debit cards and cited the most recent Ohio Gambling Survey (2016-2017) which estimates that 5.2 million Ohioans buy lottery tickets.

Before you jump in and use your cards to play, think about the fundamental rules for gambling:

Use cash only.

Limit how much you will spend and how long you will play.

Play only with an amount of money you can afford to lose.

Think of gambling as entertainment, not about how to make some fast money.

Be sober when you gamble.

Keep it a social activity.

Be aware of the risks before you gamble.

Gambling is “playing games of chance for money; taking risky action in the hope of a desired result.” Compulsive gambling is “the uncontrollable urge” to keep gambling even when it’s in your own best interests to stop.

Think about it. At what point will you be in over your head? When do you cross the line and risk losing everything you have? When the rent or grocery money is lost or before? When you can’t pay the heat bill or before? Compulsive gambling destroys lives. Ask any compulsive gambler in recovery what gambling addiction cost them.

To learn if you are at risk of gambling addiction, take the quiz at beforeyoubet.org/the-quiz. The Ohio Problem Gambling Hotline can be reached at 800-589-9966.

Many people with a gambling problem find it difficult to admit to it. But a person has to admit it to get on with recovery, regaining control and achieving healing. Relapse can happen, especially if you spend time with friends who gamble. Also, it is not uncommon for gambling addiction to co-occur with substance abuse, depression, anxiety or other mental health disorder.

The shame is not in having a mental health disorder, but rather in not getting the appropriate treatment to let you live happy and healthy.

Stay focused on NOT gambling.

Remember and repeat to yourself: Gambling is too risky.

It’s OK to ask for help.

Learn what your gambling triggers are – and avoid them.

Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. FRC is funded, in part, by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Recovery Services.

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