For many, gambling can be as addicting as heroin.Byline: STRAIGHT STUFF By Jerry Gjesvold For The Register-Guard
Once a year, I head to Reno with a group of old friends. We play golf, and we do a little gambling. When we sit down for blackjack blackjack, one of the world's most widely played gambling card games; also known as twenty-one or vingt-et-un. Despite contesting claims between the French and Italians, its origins are unknown. , we'll take most of a table, socializing while we play. We generally lose more than we win, but that's not the point. It's entertainment. We do it for fun and enjoy it.
As much fun as gambling may be, it's something to be treated with caution. Because I'm recovering from chemical dependency chemical dependency
A physical and psychological habituation to a mood- or mind-altering drug, such as alcohol or cocaine.
chemical dependency , I know I have to be careful. I know how addictive and compulsive behaviors can take control of my life. I don't want that to happen with something I enjoy from time to time.
Sadly, there are people experiencing that kind of devastation right now. For them, gambling is clearly a kind of drug. It's a mood-altering activity as powerful as crack, methamphetamine and heroin are to the drug addict.
To be sure, compulsive gambling compulsive gambling or pathological gambling, a psychological disorder characterized by a persistent inability to resist the impulse to gamble. affects only a small percentage of those who play. Most people handle it fine. Still, the damage done can be very serious, affecting many people in addition to the gamblers themselves.
Like alcoholism or drug addiction drug addiction
or chemical dependency
Physical and/or psychological dependency on a psychoactive (mind-altering) substance (e.g., alcohol, narcotics, nicotine), defined as continued use despite knowing that the substance causes harm. , this disease doesn't respect age, class or ethnic background. I remember a dealer telling me that they always know when the college loan checks come in, and gambling among retirees is a growing concern as well. People regularly lose their homes, jobs and families to it. Some even commit suicide Verb 1. commit suicide - kill oneself; "the terminally ill patient committed suicide"
kill - cause to die; put to death, usually intentionally or knowingly; "This man killed several people when he tried to rob a bank"; "The farmer killed a pig for the holidays" .
Many of the symptoms of problem gambling Problem gambling is an urge to gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. The term is preferred to compulsive gambling among many professionals, as few people described by the term experience true compulsions in the clinical sense of the word. are similar to those of chemical dependency. It moves in a well-known progression, requiring more and more time and money to get the same "high." When the game stops, the person experiences withdrawal symptoms Withdrawal symptoms
A group of physical or mental symptoms that may occur when a person suddenly stops using a drug to which he or she has become dependent. such as irritability, restlessness and depression - symptoms that can be alleviated only by time or more gambling. There's little or no pleasure in the game. It stops being fun.
One major red flag is borrowing money to play. (Casinos actually encourage this by loading up their facilities with ATMs.) Problem gamblers lie to themselves and others about their wins and losses, or talk only about their wins. They are constantly trying to "get back to even." They fantasize about gambling as a way to avoid uncomfortable feelings - they feel better just thinking about when they'll play again. And it's not unheard of Not heard of; of which there are no tidings.
Unknown to fame; obscure.
See also: Unheard Unheard for people to use drugs such as methamphetamine to "keep the game going."
Fortunately, there is hope and help for the gambling addict. The public is now aware that this problem exists, and that in itself is a big step forward. There are now treatment options, both inpatient and outpatient, for this addiction, and 12-step groups including Gamblers Anonymous, particularly combined with psychotherapy, can be very helpful. (For more information, see the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services Noun 1. Department of Health and Human Services - the United States federal department that administers all federal programs dealing with health and welfare; created in 1979
Health and Human Services, HHS Web site at www.oregon.gov/DHS/addiction/gambling.shtml or Google "Oregon gambling.')
Because gambling addiction is understood to be chronic, progressive and incurable, those who have progressed to the later stages of the disease may well have a stark choice to make. They have to take responsibility, choosing between giving up gambling for good - one day at a time One Day at a Time is a long-running American situation comedy that portrayed a divorced mother, played by Bonnie Franklin, her two teenage daughters (Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli) and their building superintendent (Pat Harrington, Jr.). - or losing everything that matters to them.
But admitting they have a problem, entering treatment if indicated, working the 12 steps and getting the help they need offers an effective alternative. It's a proven way to shift the odds in their favor for good.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer. As Serenity Lane's statewide coordinator of employer services, Jerry Gjesvold helps companies across Oregon create and manage their drug-free workplace policies and programs. More information is available on the Serenity Lane Web site at www.serenitylane.org.