BLUEFIELD, WV (WVNS) — Millions of people all across the country struggle from some form of gambling habit. Now with more avenues to feed the urge, medical professionals say the trend could continue growing.
Wendy Young, a therapist with FMRS Health Systems, said a gambling addiction is a disease and could affect anyone at any time.
“Gambling addiction, gambling problems look like this face that you see right here. It looks like your face, it looks like, anyone can struggle with a gambling behavior,” said Young.
Young said because it is like any other addiction, it is just as easy to pick up.
“It can be curiosity, it can be wanting a sense of belonging, to play a part in like your work football pool or card games at someone’s house, it can be very simple as that,” said Young.
The signs can be similar, too.
“It might be your loved, one being gone for hours at a time, maybe they might be asking for help with finances where they weren’t before, so you can see them starting to struggle with finances. The longer it develops, they may become more secretive and have to lie to their loved ones in order to kind of cover their amount of gambling,” said Young.
But is gambling a learned behavior or is it in the makeup of the addict?
“The simple answer to that is both. Maybe you experienced going to the dog track with your dad or your family or your friends. And so it can be a very powerful social component, learned component if that’s something fun that you do together. But it also has a neurobiological component in that we can be more vulnerable to experiencing something like that. Within our family, we may have depression, that kind of chemistry. Or anxiety, more prone towards anxiety,” said Young.
Young said gambling has many faces. It can be slot machines, card game with friends, a friendly wager at the races. She said education is the best way to combat this addiction.
“But the truth is that addiction doesn’t have any boundaries. Anybody can struggle with addiction and the more we talk about it as a community the quicker we can get towards healing and be there for each other,” said Young.
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