With the recent initiatives on the ballot being passed to change the Nebraska constitution to allow slot machines and table gambling, as well as two laws that will regulate and tax casino gambling in the state, gambling has become a hot topic right now. Not to mention football being in full swing, which is one of the most popular sports for betting. Regardless of how good or bad people believe gambling will be for the state from a tax standpoint, it’s important to acknowledge that gambling can be an addiction for some people—one that can lead to family/marital issues, crippling debt, violence, and even suicide. Like any addictive activity—alcohol, drugs, pornography, shopping, you name it—gambling can be a slippery slope. Unfortunately, most people don’t even realize they’ve slipped until they are faced with a consequence or situation they’re unsure how to get out of. This is why it’s imperative to know the signs of a gambling addiction so you can identify it in yourself or a loved one before it gets to that point, and the resources available if help is needed. The Nebraska Commission on Problem Gambling (problemgambling.nebraska.gov) has put together a list of questions you can ask yourself when you’re worried about your own behavior, along with a list of questions to go through with a family member when a gambling/betting problem is suspected in a loved one.
- Have I become restless, irritable, or anxious when trying to stop/cut down on gambling?
- Have I tried to keep my family or friends from knowing how much I gamble?
- Do I have financial trouble as a result of gambling to the point where I had to get help with living expenses from family, friends, or welfare?
- Do we feel that our loved one cannot be trusted with money?
- Have we set aside money to pay bills and discovered the money is missing?
- Have we find ourselves wanting to search our loved one’s clothing, wallets, closets, electronic devices, bank statements, financial statements, etc., for evidence to confirm our suspicions; or have we found scratch-off tickets, lottery tickets, loan books, etc. hidden away in the house or car?
- Has our loved one been inexplicably unavailable and unreachable, neglecting and jeopardizing employment and family responsibilities?
- Have we noticed a personality change in our loved one as their gambling progresses; perhaps their behavior becomes unpredictable with angry outbursts or moodiness or depression?
- When we confront them, they will either deny that gambling is a problem or will promise to curtail or stop it; however, the gambling continues, often in secret?
- Does our loved one justify it by saying gambling will solve financial problems?
- Are we being lied to or manipulated by our loved one—things do not make sense, they make us feel guilty and shift blame onto us, suggesting we are the cause for the gambling?
- Do we feel hopeless, isolated and alone, too embarrassed, or ashamed to confide in other family members and friends about the issue?
Choices Treatment Center is an outpatient treatment and recovery facility committed to helping individuals overcome problems related to gambling, substance abuse, and mental health through a holistic approach so all co-occurring issues may be addressed. All of the counselors at Choices are certified with the Nebraska Gamblers Assistance Program. This program allows them to provide, at no charge to the client, assessments for problem/pathological gamblers, consultations/interventions for problem gamblers and their families, financial counseling, and individual treatment. They offer a 24-hour helpline staffed by licensed counselors, individual and group counseling, and education sessions.