Gambling addiction is real and can have very real impacts on the lives of young people. In an effort to help raise awareness of this mental health concern, NJGamblingFun.com has created a scholarship fund for New Jersey students to help overcome the effects of a loved one’s addiction.
What is a gambling addiction/compulsive gambling?
According to the Mayo clinic, “Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means that you’re willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value.
“Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you have a problem with compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets that lead to losses, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.”
In New Jersey, where casinos still stand on the beaches of Atlantic City, online gambling has been legalized, OTB (off-track betting) has been around for decades, and bookies are commonplace, gambling addictions are all too common.
The Effect of a Gambling Addiction
Gamblers are always looking for the next “high,” the win that will keep them from needing to gamble ever again. For the vast majority, that win never comes.
For family members, they find themselves dealing with the same things that families of drug addicts and alcoholics do: lying, stealing, borrowing, missing events, and massive distrust. For married couples, this often leads to fighting and even divorce.
Children are the most innocent victims. They often don’t fully understand what is happening to their family and their lives.
Suddenly, their parents are fighting, there’s no money, and they have to move out of their home. Everything seems to happen at once because parents will usually keep the build-up from the children.
The Long-term Effects
For the children, they will often find that their savings and college funds have been gambled away. They arrive in high school with nothing to help propel them into college.
Very often they experience a lack of emotional validation. The children will distrust their own feelings and perceptions, simply because they didn’t notice that their lives were going to pot when they were younger. They end up fearful, insecure, and struggle to deal with the adult world that expects them to be ready for every situation.
Emotional predictability is another major effect of a parent’s gambling addiction. The parent that was supposed to love them seems to be doing everything they can to destroy their lives.
The children will manifest this in any of dozens of ways:
- Lashing out inappropriately
- Immediate gratification needs that can lead to their own addictions
- Overly-responsible or irresponsible
- Hyper-materializing thinking things will make them happy
- Blaming the non-gambling patre.t
- Fear of crime, especially theft
- Distraction from schoolwork
Many children of gamblers will fear environmental stability. Constantly moving around, lacking a home, not even being able to count on the television being in the house day to day creates a sense of complete instability for the child. They learn to see the world as a place where there is no safe space but the one they can create.
Helping children overcome a parent’s gambling addiction
There are entire organizations and millions of dollars in New Jersey set aside to help people overcome their gambling addictions. There are many fewer resources for the families.
As a caretaker or family member there are some things you can do to help a child recover from a parent’s gambling addiction.
Stability – If possible, offer the child a stable home that they can learn to trust. If you can’t give them a home, at least help them find a stable environment where they can count on everything being there when they arrive.
Honesty – While very young children won’t understand, older children deserve to know the truth of what happened, how their parents got to this place, and what they (the child) needs to do to protect themselves.
Counseling – They will need counseling. A professional can help them see how the events they lived through affect their lives. This can help prevent the child from heading down the same road as the parent, seeking instant gratification and getting lost in the high.
A Little Bit of Help from NJGamblingFun.com
NJGamblingFun.com, an online gambling and casino resource, has created a $1,000 scholarship for students in New Jersey affected by a parent’s gambling and betting addiction.
The website was created by a group of professionals who enjoy online poker games, but recognize that for some people this activity can get out of hand. It can lead down a dark road that takes the children with them.
Students are asked to write an essay (1,000 words) that talks about their parent’s addiction, its effect on them, and what they want to do with their lives.
NJGamblingFun.com will publish the essay on their website and give the student $1,000 toward whatever they need to move their schooling forward.
The student’s real name and school name will be published to make sure that others know that this is a true story. It’s important for other students to understand that they aren’t alone and a powerful essay can help them understand that.
“Gambling addiction awareness is vital,” said Kate Huber, Chief Editor of NJGamblingFun.com. “While gambling and betting on sports can be a lot of fun as a pastime, when it becomes an addiction, it can destroy lives and families.
“This scholarship is our way of giving back a bit and helping to raise awareness of this addiction.”
Free help is available for both gamblers and families at https://800gambler.org/ or by calling 1-800-GAMBLER. They are available 24 hours a day.
Their site also lists where Gamblers Anonymous meetings are and provides resources for addicts and families to find out if they’re dealing with an addiction or not.
“It’s our hope to provide a little support for a young person to overcome the damage done by an addicted gambler,” said Huber. “A little hand up to get them on the road to success might be just the right thing to help them and to raise awareness of this difficult addiction.