My Hidden AddictionBy Carol O’Hare, Executive Director, Nevada Council on Problem Gambling
In the beginning I gambled because it was fun. It was magical the way gambling freed me from the worries, fears and frustrations of everyday living. When I was tense, gambling relaxed me. When I was angry, gambling calmed me down. When I was happy, I celebrated feeling good by gambling. Slowly, over time, gambling became the only coping mechanism I knew, and when the financial problems grew and the stress of the money overwhelmed me, I convinced myself that one more bet would solve the problem. Of course one bet led to the next, and the next, and even if I won, it was never enough.
Problem gambling has been called the hidden addiction and I hid it well. My family, friends, and coworkers saw me struggle, but I always had an explanation. I couldn’t admit to anyone what was causing the problems in my life, because I was afraid – afraid of their judgment, their anger, and afraid that If I told them the truth, they would know that I was crazy. I didn’t know that I was suffering from an illness that can be treated; I thought I was insane. After all, wouldn’t you have to be crazy to become so obsessed with something that you would lie, cheat, steal, and risk the lives of your children for it?
While it is true that everyone makes a personal choice whether or not to gamble, NO ONE asks to become addicted. So before you judge the addict, please learn about this addiction and the treatment and support resources that are available to help problem gamblers and their families.
Problem gambling can affect anyone… anywhere… anytime…, but help is available!
When the Fun Stops…Help is just a call, or click, away.