May is Mental Health Month, so we will take some time to talk about mental health issues and how they can relate to gambling disorders. You may be aware that gambling can lead to mental and physical stress, ranging from anxiety to depression and panic attacks. But, it is a two-way street. People who suffer from those same mental health disorders may be inclined to turn to gambling as a coping method or a solution.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (in 2014), approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (4.2%) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. Disordered gambling may be one of the ways a mental illness manifests; or, those affected by mental illness may turn to the repetitive pattern of gambling to cope with their symptoms.
Individuals who have experienced trauma (at any age) may also turn to problematic gambling as a way to vent or relieve stress. Additionally, the same medications prescribed to treat mental ailments can have side effects that relax you and make you more carefree. Common side-effects of benzodiazepines and tranquilizers include disorientation, confusion drowsiness, lack of energy, and clumsiness. These can be detrimental to somebody at a casino, racetrack, or online wagering site.
Also, people who have experienced trauma or have not been diagnosed with a mental condition can be more prone to placing wagers without knowing that they are at greater risk for developing a gambling addiction. This can result in using gambling as a crutch and not realizing that they have a problem. Once an addiction becomes too serious to ignore, it can still be difficult to reach out for help, especially when you don’t know where to turn. That’s why the Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ has a plethora of resources available 24 hours a day.
Our 1-800-GAMBLER hotline for gamblers in NJ (and the entire Tri-State area), gives gambling addicts and their loved ones a place to call to get help. We also offer a 24/7 text option, a list of Gamblers Anonymous meetings, and a vast selection of specific brochures that can provide support and hope for sufferers who are in need.