Every day, millions of individuals across the globe are recovering from mental and substance abuse disorders. Among those conditions is problem gambling, medically defined by the DSM-5 as Disordered Gambling. Problem gambling affects approximately 2 million people nationwide, with another 4-6 million at-risk. During this month of understanding recovery and the disorders and addictions individuals are struggling to overcome, we want to shine light on those affected by problem gambling.
It’s a disorder that isn’t easily noticed, and isn’t often talked about. We refer to it as the hidden addiction because it can be hard to recognize the signs until the disorder has begun to seriously affect the individual’s health or cause significant financial problems.
What is Recovery Month?
National Recovery Month is celebrated by many in the addiction and recovery community throughout September, serving as a way to recognize those who are living with mental and substance abuse disorders, and their loved ones who are fighting the battle alongside and behind them. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides resources and updates, as well as ways to get involved, on their site.
Many organizations are using this month to share recovery stories, organize events and spark a dialogue about mental and substance abuse disorders. While these conversations should be happening year-round, taking a month to recognize the importance of recovery is an important place to start.
If you, or a loved one is undergoing recovery and want to participate in supporting National Recovery Month, there are many ways to get involved, such as getting educated, spreading the word, attending events and much more!
Understanding Gambling Disorder & Recovery
Problem gambling can happen to anyone. It’s a disorder that knows no age, gender or ethnicity. It doesn’t care about your background, or the numbers on your paycheck. There are many ways to gamble, from initially low-stakes to high, and they can all end up costing the individual more than they bargained for.
It’s important to recognize that disordered gambling has a tendency to be co-occurring with other addictions, such as alcohol or drug dependencies. According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), 73.2 percent of people with a gambling disorder also had an alcohol use disorder. Likewise, 31.8 percent had a drug use disorder. While co-occurring disorders aren’t always a part of gambling disorder, it’s important to be aware of the correlation.
Experiencing multiple disorders calls for different approaches to treatment and recovery. In order to get the most effective treatment, it’s important for individuals to acknowledge their gambling disorder and anything else they have recognized is affecting them.
Why is recovery so important? Problem gambling has the highest rate of suicide of all addictions.
The journey to recovery requires a bit of planning and commitment. You can cross the finish line, but you need to prepare yourself for the obstacles ahead.
What are you going to do with the time you used to spend gambling?
How are you going to avoid old triggers?
Will you become dependent on another unhealthy activity or substance?
These are all real, serious questions that many problem gamblers face in the beginning of their recovery. They may be tough to answer, but thinking about them now will help you continue a successful and lasting recovery. You will need to consider your lifestyle, behaviors and habits when embarking on your journey, to be prepared for the challenges you may face. Find more tips on facing recovery in our ebook on staying safe after problem gambling.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help!
Remember, you don’t have to face this alone. You can find support in the stories of others who are experiencing similar problems from gambling, reach out to trusted friends and family members, or talk to a professional who can help you map your recovery.
If you need support or advice for dealing with problem gambling, the NYS HOPEline is available to help! You can reach them free of charge, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week by calling 1-877-8-HOPENY.
For professional support and treatment for problem gambling in New York State, our Gambling Support Directory provides a network of organizations providing services for disordered gambling.
The path to recovery can have its ups and downs, but don’t lose sight of the finish line. You can get through this, and people want to help you! Have a safe, successful Recovery Month.
If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, or just need to talk to someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.