We all know that gambling addictions can take people to some very dark places. But sometimes it’s important to hear testimonials from people who have actually been through it and seen the other side. Noted Ohio publication The Columbus Dispatch recently did just that, dedicating a headline article to the topic and highlighting real voices from people in recovery.
The Dispatch piece touched on everything from drugs and alcohol, to suicide attempts, to crime and robberies; all stemming from the urge to gamble. It ties into the theme of March being Gambling Awareness Month and it is certainly not coincidental that these 31 days align with the popular NCAA basketball tournament known as “March Madness.”
Sports, of course, play a big role in driving people towards these types of addictions. And just like the excitement of seeing a team score a big win or hitting three sevens at a slot machine, there are psychological components that can classify this as a disease on the same level as alcoholism. Stacy Fronhapfel Hasson, prevention chief in the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Bureau of Problem Gambling, spoke to the Dispatch about the strong similarities between all of these types of dependencies.
“You can do a brain scan on someone using cocaine, and a scan on someone who spent the last 24 hours at a casino, and all the same parts of the brain are lit up,” she explained. “People addicted to drugs or gambling are getting a rush, or a high, from their behavior, which leads them to chase that feeling.”
Gambling recovery advocate Jess Stewart was also interviewed for the article. He explained how compulsive betting destroyed his life and nearly pushed him to kill himself. Finding ways to support his habit led Stewart to commit armed robbery, which led to a three year prison sentence.
Advocates Bill and Andrea McGovern also had powerful words to share about problem gambling. Their son, Michael, took his own life at the age of 28 after experiencing some devastating financial losses due to compulsive betting. The McGoverns speak out across the country about this issue, emphasizing the importance of seeking out help.
“We do this because we both feel this isn’t a secret, we need to tell people,” Andrea said. “We had a really typical family, the kids had nice lives and were loved and we did everything we could, and this happened to us. People need to know this can happen to anybody.”
If you or anyone you know is struggling with a gambling problem, please reach out and let us help begin the recovery process.