Do you spend way too much time and money gambling?

Does gambling take you away from your family and friends?

Do you often end up maxing out your credit cards and savings while looking for that lucky break at a casino?

Do you spend so much money on scratch tickets or pull tabs that you have trouble paying your bills?

You’re not alone.

It is estimated that approximately 56,000 Minnesota adults meet the criteria for a gambling disorder. According to the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling, another 200,000 meet the criteria for mild or moderate gambling problems and 10,000 Minnesota high school students report that they are at risk of developing a gambling disorder.

The alliance and the National Council on Problem Gambling are working together to raise awareness of the problem in March – Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Problem gambling is defined as any gambling behavior that compromises, disrupts or interferes with personal, family or work activities, according to the alliance.

Major signs of problem gambling include preoccupation with gambling and loss of control over one’s gambling, such as continuing to gamble despite adverse consequences. According to the alliance, other signs of problem gambling include hiding evidence of gambling, feeling bad about one’s gambling, and not letting family and friends gamble.

“Sometimes the gambling problem is temporary and disappears. Sometimes it plateaus and holds for years, and sometimes it progresses to catastrophic levels,” the alliance noted on its website, mnapg.org. “Regardless of the course, problem gamblers typically experience intense shame, financial conflict, and family issues. »

The alliance pointed out that virtually anyone – male or female, young or old, and those of all religions, races and socio-economic backgrounds – is at risk of developing a gambling problem. They can play horses, slot machines, lottery, drawbars, cards and bingo.

Some compulsive gamblers commit illegal acts to support their gambling or to pay off gambling-related debts. Problem gamblers also have the highest suicide rate among behavioral addictions. The good news, the alliance pointed out, is that help is available and working.

“Across Minnesota during Problem Gambling Awareness Month, the Minnesota Alliance on Problem Gambling is committed to ensuring that the public can recognize the signs of problem gambling and, most importantly, the resources available to get help. help,” said Susan Sheridan Tucker, executive director.

Sheridan Tucker said this month’s focus was two-fold:

  • First, encourage all health care providers to screen for problem gambling, a common codependency often accompanied by depression or anxiety. Upon receiving an affirmative answer to any of the three screening questions, providers can take steps to seek additional resources. “The comorbidity rate is around 65% and we know that many who seek treatment for a substance use disorder or mental health issues are not being assessed for gambling issues,” said said Sheridan Tucker. “We would like to see this change.”
  • Second, the alliance highlights the issues that families experience when living with a loved one with a gambling disorder. “For too many families, they live in silence due to the stigma associated with addiction to gambling. game,” Sheridan Tucker said. “For every problem player, 7-10 others suffer harm, whether financial, emotional, physical or legal.”

Families need to know they are not alone — that help is available and free, Sheridan Tucker noted. The Minnesota Problem Gambling fund allows up to 12 hours of counseling for families, if they connect with a state-licensed provider.
This month’s aim is to bring together a wide range of stakeholders, including public health organizations, treatment providers, people in recovery, advocacy groups and gambling operators, including Allied Charities of Minnesota, Canterbury Park, Running Aces, Minnesota Indian Gaming Association and Minnesota. Lottery.

“We are working together to let people know that hope and help are out there,” Sheridan Tucker said.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the Minnesota Helpline at 1-800-333-4673, visit www.mnapg.org/help or text “HOPE” at 53342 for confidential assistance. For more information on problem gambling and how to increase awareness and action on problem gambling, go to www.mnapg.org