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Problem Gambling Awareness Month

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Did you know that six to eight million Americans meet the criteria for gambling addiction, and many more are affected by an individual's gambling problem? Officially known as "Gambling Disorder", gambling is not a sign of weakness, moral failing or lack of willpower. It was recognized as a mental health disorder in 1980. Gambling addiction is a significant mental health problem, and is classified as a behavioral addiction. Gambling Disorder is a progressive disease, often referred to as a "silent addiction", meaning that the symptoms of compulsive gambling often go unnoticed by family and friends until the gambler becomes desperate or hopeless. Some of the symptoms of the disease include; preoccupation with gambling, irritability or restlessness when attempting to cut down or stop gambling, lying about their gambling to loved ones and "chasing" one's losses.

Eighty-five percent of adults in America have gambled at least once in their lives, 65% within the past year. Gambling occurs at a higher percentage in higher-income households and college graduates are significantly more likely to gamble on sports than non-graduates.

There are similarities and differences between substance abuse and gambling addiction; preoccupation, increased tolerance, restlessness and irritability, repeated efforts to control or cut down, and continue use or gambling despite major consequences.

Gambling addiction has been associated with other problems, such as depression, domestic violence, bankruptcy and substance abuse. 76% of problem gamblers are likely to have a depression disorder. The rate of suicide among compulsive gamblers is among the highest of all the addictions.

Sunspire Health Recovery Road, in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, offers a robust program for those seeking recovery from problem gambling [and substance use disorders and sex addiction]. As with all other chronic illnesses, [compulsive] problem gamblers require integrated treatment that focuses on the deep root causes of such continued risky behavior. The Florida model facility's treatment options include PHP, IOP, and a family program that helps the whole family heal and find long-term recovery.