March Madness & Problem Gambling [Infographic]

For many people, March Madness is a time to enjoy friendly bets with family, friends, and coworkers. However, for some it can be a catalyst for problem gambling behavior, which can have a significant impact on school, work, and relationships.

If a person currently struggles with gambling addiction or is at risk for the condition, the annual NCAA tournament can create a path toward continued or deepening gambling problems.

Problem gambling isn’t a money issue. It’s a diagnosable and treatable condition in which a person is no longer able to make reasonable choices about betting. Like other addictions, it’s been linked to changes in the brain that affect decision-making abilities.

Signs of Problem Gambling
  • You find yourself lying or acting evasively about money.
  • You neglect responsibilities, like work or school, for gambling.
  • You have mood swings that depend on whether you’re winning or losing.
  • You have arguments with family or friends about money.
  • You’ve borrowed money to gamble or to pay for necessities because you lost money betting.
  • You’ve borrowed money without permission—even though you may intend to pay it back.
  • You’ve taken money out of dedicated accounts, like retirement funds or life insurance, to gamble.
  • You delay or avoid necessary purchases, like groceries or medicine, because you’d rather use your money to place bets.

This gambling infographic from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Rochester Area shares facts and stats about sports betting and March Madness.


Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2017- Stats and Facts

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Gambling addiction is a serious condition with roots in the brain. Biologically, it has much in common with addictions to alcohol and other drugs. Anyone can struggle with it, no matter their gender, age, financial status, or ethnic background. As many as 6 million Americans live with the symptoms–and millions more are left to cope as they watch the condition destroy someone they love.

To learn how gambling addiction has an impact on so many lives, check out Real Stories of Recovery and Awareness from the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

The NCPG also shared this gambling infographic with statistics and other information about gambling in America.

Compass Mark helps individuals, families, educators, therapists, and other concerned professionals find the resources to deal with compulsive gambling. For prevention and education resources, treatment referrals, and intervention information in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, contact our team at 717-299-2831 or use our online Gambling Help form. Our guidance is confidential and judgment free.


What to Do if Someone You Love is a Problem Gambler

Finding help for someone with addiction typically isn’t something we learned in school. So what should you do if you know someone struggling to control their gambling behavior? Here’s what to do if a person you love has a gambling problem.

Learn more about the condition.

Gambling addiction is an actual disorder rooted in the brain—it’s not a matter of having “no willpower” or being a “bad” person. Numerous studies have found that people with problem gambling have some brain dysfunctions similar to those with drug addiction. For example, problem gamblers and substance abusers both show weakened brain pathways that play a role in impulse control and decision making.

To learn if your loved one is at risk for gambling addiction, take the quiz on our home page.

Understand that the gambler will need professional help to stop. 

This is a progressive disorder, which means that if not treated, it worsens over time. That progression time frame is different for everyone; however some evidence suggests women may transition to gambling addiction faster than men.

As the addiction takes hold, problem gamblers may spiral into despair because of their circumstances, which often stay hidden from others until the situation becomes overwhelming. This increases the risk for developing clinical depression or attempting suicide.

Since the condition worsens, it’s critical that the problem gambler seek help sooner rather than later. This is especially true for senior gamblers; they have less time to recover financially from the economic toll this addiction takes.

Long-term recovery from gambling addiction is often supported with a combination of treatments, including talk therapy, lifestyle changes, stress management techniques, and self-help groups, like Gamblers Anonymous.

Take control of your own finances.

If your money is linked to the problem gambler’s finances, take steps to separate accounts so the gambler cannot access the money you need to provide for yourself and your family. In addition to opening a separate—sole—checking or savings account, take your name off shared credit card accounts. Don’t give the problem gambler any access to the new accounts you open (i.e. no debit cards, PINs, or checks).

Seek professional help for yourself and other loved ones.

Like all addictions, problem gambling impacts the entire family—and not just from a financial standpoint. Excessive gambling behavior fractures the trust needed to have healthy relationships with a spouse, children, parents, and siblings.

Regardless of whether your loved one seeks treatment, you and other family members should take steps to heal your own emotional well-being. Talk with a therapist to find out how counseling can help you and others cope with the situation in a healthy way. Also, check out Gam-Anon, a group that provides support to the loved ones of problem gamblers.

For confidential guidance or referrals in Lancaster County, PA or Lebanon County, PA, contact the caring team at Compass Mark. Call 717-299-2831 or use our Gambling Help Form.


Super Bowl Gambling Predicted to Near $50 Billion in Bets – Will You Lose to Problem Gambling?

The upcoming Super Bowl is expected to generate $4.7 billion in bets, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA). The vast majority of those wagers will be illegal.

It’s estimated a whopping 97% of bets placed on the big game will take place illegally in office pools, between friends, and through offshore gambling operations, according to the AGA. Check out its Super Bowl gambling infographic:


Many people placing bets will be able to do so without harming themselves or inflicting negative consequences on friends or family. However, for some, sports betting can lead to problem gambling, a recognized condition in which a person can no longer make reasonable decisions about wagering. Gambling in at-risk people triggers some of the same brain regions as in those who abuse substances.

Problem gamblers may:

  • Gamble away paychecks;
  • Become unable to pay for living expenses, like rent, food, or prescriptions;
  • Call in sick or tardy in order to gamble;
  • Borrow, steal, or commit crimes like fraud to fund their behavior;
  • Become more vulnerable to alcohol abuse, depression, and suicide.
Don’t let sports betting bring you or a loved one down.

If wagering on the Super Bowl or other sporting events is causing anxiety or if it’s causing problems in your relationships, seek help. Gambling addiction is treatable, often with a combination of talk therapy, self-help groups, and lifestyle changes.

The Lancaster and Lebanon areas offer a number of counselors trained specifically to work with those addicted to gambling. See our list of Treatment Providers or contact Compass Mark for confidential guidance. You can also assess your risk (or that of a loved one) by taking the simple gambling assessment quiz on our home page.

To learn more about sports gambling and addiction, check out:

Tips to Resist the Urge to Gamble on the Super Bowl
Gambling Addiction: Taking the Fantasy Out of Fantasy Football
Fantasy Football: Priming Kids for Problem Gambling?


Parkinson’s Meds Linked to Higher Risk of Problem Gambling [Research]

Common drug treatments for Parkinson’s disease are linked to compulsive gambling and other conditions, according to a recent scientific review by a team from Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The review linked the class of drugs, which controls tremors and other symptoms, to a range of impulse-related disorders, including problem gambling, hypersexuality, compulsive eating, and compulsive shopping.

While it’s possible to treat the impulse issues by switching, reducing, or stopping the suspected medications, patients are often reluctant to change Parkinson’s treatments because they fear their condition will worsen, according to the report. Stopping the drugs may also produce withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks in some patients.

The review’s authors suggest that alternative strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, could help manage impulse disorders in patients. They also stressed the importance of the role of Parkinson’s patients’ family members. Along with caregivers, family members can help by reporting out-of-character behavior that suggests an impulse control disorder.

Signs of Gambling Problems in Seniors
  • Acting evasively or lying about time or money spent gambling;
  • Inability to account for time spent gambling;
  • Uncharacteristic decline in personal care, which may include not taking necessary medications;
  • Increase in calls from bill collectors;
  • Engaging in frequent arguments about money or bills;
  • Cashing out life insurance policies, retirement funds, or other earmarked accounts;
  • Selling valuables or heirlooms.

If you’re concerned about an older loved one’s gambling behavior, reach out for help now. Talk with the Compass Mark team for confidential guidance or referrals to resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA.


The Holiday Gifts You Shouldn’t Give to Your Kiddos: Problem Gambling Prevention

Got your holiday shopping wrapped up yet? (Pun intended!) Well, if you’re still hunting down presents for your younglings, there are a few ideas you may want to avoid: gambling-related toys and games.

What harm can gambling toys & games do to kids?

These types of gifts can increase a child’s potential for developing problem gambling, a diagnosable condition that impacts the gambler and their loved ones emotionally, physically, and financially.

Children and teens who begin to gamble at an early age are at higher risk for gambling problems later in life. However, a specific type of game may be putting even more kids at risk: gambling apps. Many kids’ wish lists include tablets or other mobile devices that give them access to games, including those with gambling themes.

Research suggests that youth who play simulated gambling games—those that don’t require actual money to play—are more likely to report gambling problems. Experts believe this is because gambling-type apps reinforce winning behavior without exposing kids to the real-world consequences of losing. Learn more in Simulated Gambling May Be a Gamble for Kids.

If you give tech gifts this year, engage parental controls to ensure your child can’t access gambling apps.

Other holiday gift ideas can reinforce unhealthy gambling behavior, too. Avoid giving kids gifts like:

  • Casino-themed card or board games, such as toy roulette sets;
  • Gambling-themed items, like slot machine piggy banks;
  • Scratch-off lottery cards.

Signs of Problem Gambling in Children & Teens

Now and throughout the year, stay alert for red flags that suggest your child or teen may have a gambling problem. Signs include:

  • Experiences mood swings based on whether they’ve won or lost;
  • Neglects school or work responsibilities to gamble or play gambling-type apps;
  • Begins hanging out with a new set of friends;
  • Steals or lies for money;
  • Sells prized possessions;
  • Shows a sudden interest in sports stats or scores (in those addicted to sports gambling).

A counselor trained to work with problem gamblers can assess and diagnose at-risk or addictive gambling behavior in a child or teenager. Call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 for confidential guidance or visit Gambling Treatment Resources in Lancaster and Lebanon.


Prevent Gambling Addiction Relapse: Tips for Navigating the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, stress levels tend to increase—and that sometimes presents challenges for people in recovery from gambling addiction. Here are tips to help you reduce the urge to gamble when holiday craziness starts to get under your skin:

Know your triggers.

Stress is a common relapse trigger, but it’s not the only one. Even if you’ve gone through the process of identifying triggers before, now is a good time to review them. This will help keep them at the top of your mind, so as triggers appear you can recognize them and take action.

Connect with a self-help group.

A community of people living with the same problems and urges as you can be a valuable tool for maintaining recovery. Gamblers Anonymous is a support group specifically for those with problem gambling. Members provide each other with support and share resources in a confidential environment. Find a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in PA.

Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake.

From office parties to family get-togethers, alcohol is common at holiday functions. Be aware that alcohol lowers inhibitions and that can make you vulnerable to relapse.

Avoid situations that include gambling.

Family traditions that involve wagering, like poker games, can be hard to navigate. However, your emotional well-being and long-term recovery is more important than any family tradition. Excuse yourself from gambling-related entertainment, and grab a loved one to do another—healthier—activity with you.

Be vigilant about financial temptation.

The holidays tend to get crazy with errands—errands that often involve money. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or keeping extra money in bank accounts to which you have access. If you start feeling stressed and know the cash is available, it can lead to a gambling relapse.

For confidential guidance or to find gambling addiction treatment resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA, call Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831 or submit this online help form.


#ExtraGive to Help Prevent Problem Gambling in Kids

Would your child know what to say if someone asked him or her to gamble? Every day, whether it’s at home or school, children in the Lancaster, PA community face tough choices about unhealthy behaviors–and gambling is one of those.

Many adults are able to gamble without negative consequences; however, children and teens who gamble are at higher risk for developing gambling addiction later in life.

Problem gambling is a diagnosable condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or financial status. It’s been connected to an increased risk of substance abuse, depression, and suicide.

Learn more in 5 Problem Gambling Myths Exposed.

Help Kids in the Lancaster Community Make Healthy Choices About Gambling

Since 1966, Compass Mark has helped individuals, families, educators, and others prevent addiction in our community. We serve over 17,000 people each year through substance abuse and problem gambling education, youth development, and information / referral services.

We offer a youth gambling and addiction prevention program called We Know BETter to schools in Lancaster and Lebanon. This curriculum, aimed at students in grades 4-8, incorporates age-appropriate activities to help youth learn practical refusal skills and improve coping strategies.

Donate to Compass Mark on Friday, November 18, 2016 during The Extraordinary Give. Your investment in the Lancaster community will help our team continue to teach kids and teens the life skills they need to  make healthy decisions. For more information about this event, visit Extra Give.

5 Problem Gambling Myths Exposed

When it comes to addiction, what you don’t know can hurt you or a loved one. Learn the top myths about problem gambling so you’re better able to identify a potential problem or help a loved one.

1. Problem gambling suggests bad morals or a lack of willpower.

False. Excessive gambling behavior is a diagnosable condition, like other addiction-related disorders. It doesn’t discriminate, and it impacts people of any age, gender, or ethnic background. Numerous studies suggest links between compulsive gambling behavior and the brain. For example, those with a weaker neural connection between two specific brain regions are more likely to be risky gamblers. Another study discovered that problem gamblers showed higher activity levels in brain regions linked to rewards.

2. Excessive gambling is a money problem.

False. Problem gambling is a condition related to a range of risk factors, including substance abuse, family history of addiction, and starting to gamble at an early age. Gambling addiction affects healthy decision-making regardless of financial resources or money management skills.

3. To have a gambling problem, the person needs to gamble every day.

False. While some problem gamblers may seem to bet online 24/7 or spend all their time sitting in front of slots, others gamble in intermittent binges. The truth is that gambling becomes a problem any time it impacts the gambler’s relationships, financial situation, and emotional or physical health.

4. A problem gambler will stop gambling if you pay off his or her debt.

False. Paying their gambling debt provides temporary financial relief, however it does nothing to reboot the gambler’s brain so they can start the recovery journey. In reality, paying off the debt can actually drive them deeper into the addiction because they’re prevented from feeling the real-world consequences of their behavior.

5. An elderly person won’t quit gambling.

False. Don’t buy into the belief that a loved one is too “set in their ways” to change. Gambling addiction is treatable at any age. Reach out to a counselor specifically trained to work with problem gamblers. If possible, find a problem gambling counselor who also has experience working with seniors. It is never too late to change. And when the gambler is an older person, it’s critical to find gambling help sooner rather than later.

Take the quiz on our home page to learn whether you or someone you love is at risk for developing problem gambling.

To find gambling addiction treatment or prevention resources in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, contact our team for nonjudgmental guidance. Call 717-299-2831 or fill out our Gambling Help Form.


What to Do When Your Parent or Grandparent Gambles Too Much

Maybe your aging mom has started going on weekend casino binges. Perhaps your grandpa’s so wrapped up in slot machine apps that he now neglects his home or personal hygiene. You sense—or know—there’s a problem, but what do you do next?

Educate yourself.

Compulsive gambling isn’t about lacking willpower or making bad decisions. It’s a diagnosable condition with roots in the brain’s biology. What’s more, some people may be more vulnerable to it than others. Risk factors include starting to gamble at an early age and having a family history of addiction. There’s an additional risk factor for some seniors as well: certain drugs commonly used to treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease can negatively affect impulse control, raising the risk for, among other things, gambling addiction.

Understand that gambling addiction is treatable at any age.

Don’t push aside your concerns because you think your loved one is too old or too set in her ways to change. Professional therapists who are trained to work with gambling-addicted people will offer the tools and resources your parent or grandparent needs to start down the path to recovery.

Don’t preach.

Accusations and heated arguments won’t help your senior loved one realize they may need treatment for gambling addiction. Express your concern using “I” statements. For instance, you might say “I’m worried you won’t have money to pay for your heart medication because of the gambling.”

Seek help sooner rather than later.

Problem gambling is so much more than a money problem, yet there’s no question that money is crucial for supplying necessities like food, shelter, and medication. Younger problem gamblers in recovery may have decades to rebuild their financial security before retirement; in contrast, a senior may already be retired and unable to rebuild the nest egg—and that affects their quality of life. The longer a senior waits to find help, the harder it will be to regain financial stability. Need another reason to get help sooner instead of later? The stress of problem gambling can be the catalyst for serious health issues, including high blood pressure and heart disease.

Take care of your own well-being.

Does your loved one’s addiction to gambling make you angry? Frustrated? Embarrassed? Sad? Those negative emotions can have a big impact on your own life, so don’t ignore them. Talk with a professional counselor. He or she will assess your well-being and provide techniques for dealing with the stress of a loved one’s addiction. In addition, consider going to meetings at Gam-Anon, a group focused on helping gamblers’ family members find comfort and hope.

Take the quiz on our home page to find out if an older loved one is at risk. Then, talk with the Compass Mark team for confidential guidance and gambling resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA. Call 717-299-2831 or fill out the very simple Gambling Help Form.

Learn more in 14 Financial Warning Signs for Problem Gambling and 5 Reasons to Get Problem Gambling Help for a Senior–Now.