Gambling Addiction in the Military Posted On
As gambling has continued to increase in our society, we have taken a closer look at the destructive addiction that has followed for many individuals. Approximately 2 million adults meet the criteria for disordered gambling each year, including men and women of all ages.
You may be surprised to learn that our military service members are vulnerable to problem gambling. As discussed frequently by both health professionals and reporters nationwide, military personnel deal with serious consequences of substance abuse, mental health problems and suicide. It’s important to note that all of these issues highly co-occur with incidences of problem gambling.
Why Is There Gambling Addiction In The Military?
Military personnel are prone to having gambling opportunities readily accessible. With free time often taking place in secluded areas with limited access to entertainment, some service members choose to gamble to pass time and enjoy its thrill. Gamblers also bet as a way to cope with boredom, loneliness, anger, stress and depression. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, it’s estimated that between 36,000 and 48,000 active duty service members have gambling problems.
Veterans are susceptible to problem gambling as well. Difficulty readjusting to civilian life and post-traumatic stress disorder are two common reasons veterans seek escape methods such as the repetitive nature of many popular gambling methods. Finding work in a downturned economy is already a stressful undertaking, and bad memories of their military duties can result in serious addictions.
With healthcare resources for veterans already limited, service members struggle to find the treatment options they need. For many military members, they feel that hiding their problem gambling is the only option, and they are not eager to ask for help. Amy Kaplan of the US Department of Veterans Affairs told the Boston Globe, “Veterans are less likely to tell us they have a problem with gambling because they’re afraid it will affect their VA benefits.” This is not the case, but it explains why veterans are not seeking help when they need it most.
Consequences of Hidden Military Gambling
The effects of problem gambling have serious implications for active members of the military because addiction can harm their on-duty focus and damage careers. Problem gambling can lead to a loss of productivity, rank or ultimately even lead to becoming discharged from duty.
At home, problem gambling can cause financial woes and property loss, as well as significant disruption of close relationships with family members and friends, among other serious gambling addiction consequences.
How to Help Our Veterans
We need to raise awareness of gambling addiction and educate the public about the treatment available for problem gambling. The addictions of our military members should not remain hidden. There are counselors throughout New York State that are ready, able and willing to help you or someone you know on your road to recovery.
Find more information about problem gambling among military veterans and active members, as well as problem gambling in groups such as women and seniors, in our latest e-book, “The Hidden Addiction.” You ‘ll learn more about why the consequences of gambling addiction can go unnoticed, and what you can do to help raise awareness.