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Tom P.

Tom P.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available. Learn how to deal with gambling addiction. , , , , For millions of people, the Super Bowl is a chance to gather with family and friends. Super Bowl Sunday is also one of the biggest days of the year for gambling. And for some, it's the day when they finally admit that they or someone they care about has a gambling problem. , , Many people who gamble are able to do so responsibly. People who are compulsive (or pathological) gamblers are not. The urge to gamble takes over their life. They bet more and more, no matter how much they lose. They may do anything to get money to gamble, including stealing from their family or employer. In time, their behavior may ruin their finances, destroy their family and cost them their jobs. They are at high risk for suicide. , , The average problem gambler is a man between 21 and 55. But teens and seniors are also affected, and more and more women are becoming gambling addicts. , , How do I know if gambling is a problem? , If you think you or a loved one may have a gambling problem, answer the following questions. , , Have you or your loved one ever: , , Gambled longer than planned? , Gambled away your last dollar? , Lost sleep because of thinking about gambling? , Gambled with money that should have been used to pay bills? , Tried more than once to stop gambling but failed? , Broken the law (or thought about it) to get money for gambling? , Borrowed money to pay for gambling? , Been depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses? , Felt ashamed or sorry for gambling? , Gambled to get money to pay bills? , , According to the National Council on Compulsive Gambling, answering yes to any of these questions means you or your loved one needs help. If you have thoughts of suicide, call 9-1-1 right away to get help. , , What can I do? , Problem gambling is not a lack of willpower. It's a mental illness. If you think that you or someone close to you is a compulsive gambler, get help. You can call the following groups to find treatment programs and self-help groups in your area: , , The National Council on Problem Gambling's 24-hour hotline at 800-522-4700 , Gamblers Anonymous at 213-386-8789 , Gam-Anon (support for family and friends) at 718-352-1671 , , A compulsive gambler needs treatment. Talk to your doctor. Look for a counselor certified by the National Council on Problem Gambling or another national gambling treatment organization. A good treatment program should include counseling for family members. Many problem gamblers also have problems with alcohol abuse and depression that need to be treated. Regular attendance at Gamblers Anonymous meetings is often an important part of a successful recovery. , , If you live with a problem gambler, you need to protect yourself and your family. , , Keep a close eye on your money. Put the mortgage, checking account, college fund and retirement savings in your name only. Close joint credit cards. , Don't pay off the gambler's debts, no matter what story you're told. , Don't give the person money. Offer emotional support only, and urge him or her to get help.
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