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Letter: Treatment available for problem gambling

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In the past several weeks, there have been stories in the news about individuals doing unlawful things related to gambling. Three articles come to mind: “State AG Accuses Former CEO of a Syracuse Charity of Stealing Close to a Million Dollars," “Former Byrne Dairy Employee Charged in Alleged Theft of Stolen Lottery Tickets;” and “Syracuse SS Worker Stole $100K, Spent on Vacation, Gambling, and Lavish Living.” As gambling becomes glamorized, more socially accepted, and its accessibility increases, the problems associated with gambling increase too. What these stories do not show is the cycle of conflict, mental distress, and struggles leading up to the alleged crimes.

Every day thousands of people gamble – slot machines, lottery, scratch-offs, poker, sports betting – without issues. But what happens when gambling starts to take over someone’s life? Eventually, people start losing money. The more money they lose the more desperate they become, the more they gamble to try and make up for what they lost. Some may look to support a gambling habit by stealing and doing other things that they normally would not think of doing.

We call problem gambling the hidden addiction because it can often be kept from others until the harm resulting from gambling is too serious to hide. Problem gambling happens over time and can potentially damage relationships with family and friends. It can also have a negative impact on the workplace, especially if that is where the issues are occurring. That is when we see theft, embezzlement, and forgery taking place.

If you are concerned about a loved one or a co-worker, here are a few warning signs to look for: Gambling to escape or avoid worries; neglecting other responsibilities to concentrate on gambling; increasing the amount of money bet to win back losses; relying on others to get out of debt, depression or even suicidal because of gambling.

There may be some consequences that people with a gambling problem must take responsibility for. However, to make sure they can make amends for wrongdoing and avoid future problems, we must promote the individual’s and family’s health and wellness through support, treatment, and recovery for problem gambling and gambling disorder.

The Central Problem Gambling Resource Center is here to support anyone being negatively impacted by problem gambling. If you are dealing with problems related to your own gambling or someone else’s, call (315) 413-4676

Elizabeth Toomey

East Syracuse

Elizabeth Toomey is team leader with Central Region Problem Gambling Resource Center.

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