Gambling , as viewed by some psychologists, is "the addiction of the 90s," and teenage gambling deserves to be viewed with the same alarm directed at drugs and alcohol. In fact, surveys show that youth are at four times the risk of adults for developing compulsive gambling. It is no surprise, since many states have legalized and glamorized various forms of gambling. Some examples include state lotteries, playing horses, and casino gambling. Because o these temptations, gambling is very common among todays teenagers. In New Jersey alone, 90% of 3000 students questioned had gambled at least once a year, and 30% at least once a week. For may, it is an addiction, but it can be treated.
If you already have a gambling problem you may be feeling very desperate or depressed. Gambling has taken over your life and is a priority over food, sleep, common-sense and socialization. In a way, a compulsive gambler is driven to gamble in the same way that an alcoholic needs a drink. However, it didnt start out that way. What once may have been simple poker bets has now turned into an obsession. So if you are just stating out with periodical gambling, you may be at risk of becoming a compulsive gambler.
The following is a trace of the progression of the problem. Here are some factors to look for if you think you or a friend may have a problem.
The "search for Action" or Winning phase:
In this stage, winning enhances your self-image and ego. Losses are viewed as just being bad-luck. Gambling may be considered your most exciting activity and can be day dreamed about to escape reality. You may spend your free time or lunch breaks gambling.
The Chase or Losing Phase:
Losses increase and self confidence plummets. You may borrow money to get even and continue betting, or you may sell prized possessions to cover increasing bets. Lies to loved ones and family disputes are more frequent. Additionally, you may miss school, work or other events because of gambling activities.
The "Desperation Phase" or Rock Bottom:
Gambling has become a full-blown obsession and it becomes harder to get even and pay off debts. You may experience mood swings, start failing in school and commit crimes such as stealing or selling drugs to get money. At this point you feel that nothing or no one comes before a bet. In extreme cases, suicide is considered as an escape.
Fortunately, there is a safer and much better way of recovering. Try the following steps:
Step I: Take stock of the situation.
Step II: Get support.
Step III: Create a plan of action.
Step IV: Develop a new mental outlook.
Step V: Prevent relapses.
Dont test yourself with tempting situations,
even a simple poker game.
Remember: Its never to soon or too late to change your ways!
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Revised: August 15, 1996.