According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), 294,000 adult Iowans experienced a problem related to their gambling in the past year, potentially creating significant social and economic costs for individuals, families, businesses and communities. Governor Branstad will sign a proclamation Thursday, March 2, designating March as Problem Gambling Awareness month in Iowa – an opportunity for Iowans to ‘start the conversation’ with friends or family who may show signs of a problem with gambling, or to have an honest conversation with themselves.
“We know the majority of Iowans who gamble do so because it’s fun and they don’t have any problems as a result of it,” said Eric Preuss of the of the IDPH Office of Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention. “A good example of what most people see as ‘harmless gambling’ would be friendly bets based on the March Madness brackets. For those with a gambling problem, though, March Madness can mean big financial losses. Many suffer in silence because they don’t know why they developed a problem, what gambling addiction is, or where to get help.”
Have a conversation about how gambling affects your life if you or someone you know shows symptoms of problem gambling, including:
- Thinking a lot about gambling, such as past gambling experiences, future gambling ventures, or ways of getting money for gambling
- Needing to gamble with larger amounts of money or with larger bets in order to get the same feeling of excitement
- Repeatedly trying to cut down or stop gambling without success
- Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling
- Gambling to run away from problems or to get relief from feeling depressed, anxious, or bad about yourself
- After losing money gambling, often returning another day in order to win back losses
- Lying to family members, friends, or others in order to hide gambling activities from them
- Losing or almost losing a significant relationship, job, or an educational or career opportunity because of gambling
- Relying on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling
The Office of Problem Gambling Treatment and Prevention works to reduce the harm caused by problem gambling by funding a range of services for Iowans. These services include outpatient counseling for problem gamblers, concerned persons and family; recovery support services; financial counseling, including budgeting and debt reduction plans; and state-wide information and referral services through 1-800-BETS OFF and www.1800betsoff.org. In addition, the program funds targeted prevention and education services for schools, community groups, casino employees, and other groups.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-BETS OFF or go to www.1800BETSOFF.org.