The Wisconsin Council of Problem Gambling (2011), a helpline and educational resource for problem gambling, reports that approximately 333,000 Wisconsin residents are problem or pathological gamblers. Gambling is often identified as a hidden illness, since there are no physical signs of problems or addiction. However, problem and pathological gambling impacts every facet of a person’s life. Problem and pathological gambling also affects families, friends and employers.
If you suspect someone you know has a gambling problem:
- Is the person often away from home for long, unexplained periods of time?
- Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
- Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
- Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
- Does the person faithfully promise to stop gambling, beg, plead for another chance, and yet gamble again and again?
- Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended or until the last dollar is gone?
- Does this person immediately return to gambling and try to recover losses, or to win more?
- Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?
- Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?
- Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extent of committing illegal acts to finance gambling?
- Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses, knowing that you and the rest of your family may go without food & clothing if you do not?
- Does the person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling, sometimes to the point of self harm? Has the gambling ever brought you to the point of threatening to break up the family unit?
* Please see complete GAM-ANON 20 questions on wi-problemgamblers.org
Compulsive gambling is a treatable illness. If you are concerned about someone you know having a gambling problem, a simple and straightforward approach is often the most beneficial.
- Let the person know what your concerns are and what you would like to see happen.
- Don’t bail out your loved one by loaning him or her money to satisfy gambling debts.
- Let the person know there are resources in the community to help.
- Prevea Behavioral Care has providers available who treat gambling problems.
- Support groups like Gamblers Anonymous and GAM-ANON provide assistance to gamblers and loved ones.
- 24 hour help lines, such as the Wisconsin Council of Problem Gambling (1-800-Gamble-5) and the National Council of Problem Gambling (1-800-522-4700) provide additional resources and support.
To schedule an appointment with Prevea Behavioral Care, call (920) 272-1200.