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In Maryland, Gambling Addiction is Rampant; Treatment Options Lacking

In Maryland, Gambling Addiction is Rampant; Treatment Options Lacking

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Gambling can stimulate the brain’s rewards system much like drugs and alcohol can. Gambling addiction is a serious condition that can destroy lives. When gambling becomes addictive, it means you are willing to risk something in order to get something of even greater value. Sometimes this can mean straining relationships you have with your family and friends in order to satisfy the urge to gamble.

There is a state having a huge issue with gambling addiction and this time, it isn’t Nevada.  The tiny state of Maryland is home to one of the largest concentrated casino markets in the country. As gambling addiction continues to rise, few treatment centers options are available for resident causing their addiction to get worse.

In 2009, a state survey revealed that an estimated 150,000 residents suffer from moderate to severe gambling addiction. The state’s toll-free hotline for problem gambling has taken 619 calls in the past year from people struggling with compulsive gambling up. This number is up from 431 two years prior. Police were called on four different occasions on account of children and seniors being left unattended in cars while their parents or caregivers were inside gambling.

Clearly, the issue is increasing in severity every day. Over 893 problem gamblers, desperate to free themselves of their addiction, legally banned themselves from entering a casino through the state’s Voluntary Exclusion program. Casinos reported 37 people who were unable to follow through with the ban.

Unfortunately, there are no treatment options in Maryland to address gambling addiction. To make matters worse, most of these problem gamblers do not have health insurance or access to funds to cover private addiction treatment. The funds they could have used were gambled all away.

“When gamblers reach out to us, they’re in crisis … it’s out of control, they don’t have any money,” said Deborah Haskins, president of the Maryland Council on Problem Gambling. “When the person doesn’t have treatment as an option, it’s like you’re putting a brick wall in front of them. You’re commending them for taking the first steps, but then you have nothing else to provide them. It’s very frustrating.”

Each year, casinos in Maryland are required to contribute to the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that addresses problem gambling. The casino’s pay $425 per slot machine and $500 per table game each year. The funds only came to only $4 million last fiscal year. Most of the money ended up going to the Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling. The program focuses on increasing the amount of gambling addiction counselors and running the addiction hotline, among other services, but it’s not used for actual treatment

Vegas Came To Maryland

So I’m writing this wondering how a state like Maryland ended up so massive on the casino bandwagon. Five years ago, Maryland had just opened its first casino. Since then, four more have debuted and a giant $1.3 billion resort casino, MGM National Harbor, is set to open next year.

From a financial standpoint, Maryland is cashing in big time. The state took in $1 billion in the last fiscal year. Out of that money, the state’s cut was $487 million and $388 was used for Maryland’s Education Trust Funds.

It’s clear the state made a worthwhile financial investment but the consequences for addiction are all too real.  Gambling is one of the most deceptive of all human vices. It presents the illusion of easy money but can quickly lead into financial ruin. The odds are never in your favor when the purpose of the system is to make a profit.

As a result of the financial stress gambling addiction results in, often gamblers turn to drugs, alcohol and other addictive behavior to alleviate the anxiety brought on by the gambling lifestyle. They may struggle with drug and alcohol addiction for the rest of their life after years of self-medicating to deal with the stress. The stress of it call can result in strained relationships and isolation.

Maryland’s economy continues to thrive from the casino industry however compulsive gamblers have to deal with the consequences of their actions. These consequences include everything from home foreclosure and bankruptcies to domestic abuse, robberies and embezzlement.

Gambling in America costs the United States between $32.4 billion to $53.8 billion per year. The long term costs outweigh the economic benefits by a greater than 3:1 ration. Maryland has a choice to progress toward providing treatment and solutions to the gambling addiction crisis before it gets out of control. The consequences could overpower the risks.

If you feel you are starting to develop an addiction to gambling, seek help before the addiction takes control of your life. Luckily, there is help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135

 

New Jersey Study on Internet Gambling Addiction

New Jersey Study on Internet Gambling Addiction

Author: Justin Mckibben

Addiction is not a word that is limited to drugs and alcohol. Addiction is a powerful and illusive illness that comes in several forms, which include behavioral health issues that sometimes can fly under the radar as a result of being more socially acceptable.

Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder, because there is a complete lack of control over the urge to gamble once it takes hold. Those who struggle with gambling addiction are in the grips of a progressive illness, and a recent study is being done in New Jersey that hopefully can make some notable conclusions regarding the way it affects the general public.

New Money in New Jersey

Since November 25th 2013, internet gambling has become legalized in the state of New Jersey. With internet gambling in the state of New Jersey beginning to generate a considerable amount of discussion, not to mention a lavish payout of more than $102 million in increased tax revenues. The new gambling income has shown a significant amount, though also considered less than the $200 million predicted by the New Jersey Department of the Treasury and Gov. Chris Christie.

Eight other states have legislation pending that would allow Internet gambling. Delaware and Nevada began offering some online gambling this year, but New Jersey is considered the first true test case because it allows a full range of casino games, not just poker, and its much larger population allows for a more in-depth look at how the internet gambling market will be able to flourish.

This new industry has created a growing community of Internet gambling in New Jersey, and that community was launched by the state as a means of aiding the state’s faltering casino industry, which has been in decline since 2006.

Four casinos in Atlantic City, including the Trump Plaza, have actually been closed for business this year. Internet gambling is also legal in Delaware and New Jersey, though neither state has launched any studies to determine the impact of the decision, positive or otherwise, of increased access to betting on its constitutes.

New Study in New Jersey

Rutgers University is now making a considerable attempt to measure the impact of Internet gambling on addictive behaviors. Funded by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement and health department, the three-year study will generate an estimated cost of around $1.2 million, but Lia Nower, professor and director from the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers’ School of Social Work, says it will allow researchers to,

“identify what type of person chooses this very private form of gambling, who develops problems, and how those problems are different from other forms of gambling,” 

The survey will initially interview:

  • 1,500 adult New Jersey residents by phone
  • 2,000 residents via the Internet

The interviews will collect information from the citizens about their personal gambling behavior and Internet gambling. After which the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers’ School of Social Work will then provide four yearly reports to Governor Christie based on statistical analysis of betting behaviors.

The Underlying Issues

With the results of this new study still pending, and the market not making as much money as initially anticipated, the question may be does this new internet gambling industry have a potential to create a surge in gambling addiction, and if not, what about internet addiction?

Even if the revenue is not there on the books of these online casinos, is this new wave of internet gambling going to help contribute to the growth of the underlying issues here, which are not only gambling addiction, but internet addiction as two separate behavioral health problems that in this capacity can feed off of each other.

More is being done elsewhere so that internet addiction is being taken more seriously while ‘Generation D’ texts, tweets and tags its way through social media and online entities. With gambling addiction already being taken into consideration, what more will be discovered about the developing habits attached to these from the New Jersey statistics?

Impulse-control disorders like compulsive gambling addiction usually go hand in hand with other addictions or compulsions, and it is a wonder if online gambling will also contribute to internet addiction. Often times those who have a gambling addiction can also abuse alcohol and other substances, all to deal with more personal issues. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 

6 Ways Addiction is in Our Blood and is Being Exploited

6 Ways Addiction is in Our Blood and is Being Exploited

You might be a recovering addict but, I’m willing to bet there are other areas of your life that would qualify as active addiction. About 20% of you are smokers. For those without a recognized drug addiction – normies as we call them – about 10% use some other illicit drug; admitted alcoholics make up about 10%.

For the rest of you – the ones who think they’ve got addiction ‘licked’ or for those who don’t consider themselves to have any addiction problems at all, you’re about to lose a game you don’t even know you’re playing.

Here are 6 ways addiction is in our blood and is being exploited:

#1. Everyone has a vice

If you insist you’re not an addict because you’ve never bought pawned anything to pay for your habit or had to get what you needed in a dark alley, think about this: caffeine and nicotine are addictive substances, too…have you ever experienced a headache or irritability if you go without that morning cup or smoke (if you do smoke)? If so, you’re having withdrawal symptoms and that’s a sign of addiction.

Tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine alone probably cover just about everyone reading this and that leaves out other “gray areas” of addiction that we’ve just begun to understand and accept as real issues: food addiction, sex addiction, internet addiction and so on. That is, if it’s not illicit or prescribed drugs, coffee, or cigarettes – then it’s probably food (ever eaten something you regretted or too much at a meal and hated yourself for it?), or some behavioral addiction, such as compulsive gambling.

#2. We’re hardwired for addiction – all of us

The first act of human civilization was to make beer. It’s true.

The ancient Sumerians, the first humans to establish something what looked like an actual civilization, used half of their grain in order to brew beer. The importance of that, alone, is that it is believed to be the driving force behind why humans went from nomadic hunter/gatherer tribes to settling in large cities and, later, nations. Alcohol is difficult to make on the run and therefore the answer was to settle down and brew it. Ironically, having to deal with the complexities of civilization is the reason most of us turn to alcohol.

After beer, it was opium (at least 6,000 years ago), then caffeine (going back at least 5,000 years) first in the form of tea and later coffee, which only goes back about 700 years, when it was “discovered” and then promptly started taking over the world.

#3. Addiction is a source of exploitation

Here’s the thing: once we know exactly how addiction works, it will be that much easier to take advantage of it which translates into there being far more money in the exploitation of addiction than actually curing it.

Consider this: just a few decades ago, snack-food makers wanted to boost profits (as any good businessmen do) and so they had a novel idea: seek out scientists and have them figure out how to create addictive foods. Not only do these foods incite powerful cravings for more, they also never actually satisfy your hunger.

Snack foods are created to please your taste buds and the pleasure receptors in your brain, without actually triggering the “it’s time to stop eating” response that every human has as part of their normal bodily function. In other words, they had found out how to manufacture foods that would trigger that same overload of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in the brain as narcotics.

#4.  Addiction and will continue to be exploited because it is profitable

Society wants addicts just so long as they can ‘behave’ themselves.

Any civilization wants citizens who work all day, sleep all night, and spend their free time consuming goods (i.e. spending money) and/or sitting motionless on the couch. This is much more desirable than say, having its citizens wreaking havoc in the streets or else getting (rightfully) angry and demanding “change.” In other words, it wants stability; complacency.

#5. The ‘System’ is totally onboard

As mentioned above, the system wants to pacify you. It needs impoverished customer service workers, and it needs those impoverished customer service workers to be OK with their “lot in life.”

The best way to pacify a person is to simplify their life’s goals to one simple need: feeding their addiction. An addict can become OK with anything – their status in life, their dead-end job, the system overall – as long as they’re getting their fix.

Take for example the recent steps towards weed legalization. It may not be as detrimental as meth, or alcohol, but it’s really good at making you OK with sitting motionless on your couch. If you’re working all day to make money to buy weed, then spending your free time stoned on the sofa, you’re the perfect drone. So many people are OK with living paycheck-to-paycheck as long as they can afford their habit, whether it’s weed, video games, or Twinkies®.

We’re letting someone else hijack our brain’s pleasure centers and placate them with easily-attainable chemicals rather than authentic experiences that we evolved to experience as pleasure:  a high from a successful hunt or winning a battle, securing food, making a friend, or falling in love. In other words, all the things that actually improve your life.

Once ‘they’ can decode how to artificially create those feelings of bliss with various combinations of chemicals or stimulus, we’re screwed; chemicals will always be more easily-acquired than the actual pleasures they’re replacing.

#6. Everyone self-medicates

There’s a double standard when it comes to addiction: they are either harmless or the result of an uncontrollable urge, while others are a result of moral failing on their sufferer’s part. For example, food addiction is a shameful, disgusting display of moral weakness, however, the same person passing that judgment may have Red Bull, beer, and weed in their apartment because, that’s what they need to relax and get through the week. In fact, that fat-condemning person probably boasts about how much weed he smokes, and how much beer it takes to get him drunk. As if all of those are cool, manly accomplishments and not clear-cut evidence of his own lack of impulse control.

This is society’s approach to addiction: the divide-and-conquer tactic.

Addiction is real. And it’s not a choice or moral failing; it’s a disease – one that lasts a lifetime. The good news is that healing and recovery are possible. Call an Addiction Specialist at toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to learn more.

Are You Addicted to Your Cell Phone?

Are You Addicted to Your Cell Phone?

By Cheryl Steinberg

Research on the possibility of cell phone addiction is in its infancy, and much of it centers around the habits of the youngest millennials, specifically teens and young adults, a generation that probably never was without a cell phone or, at least, it’s a blurry memory from early childhood.

The Journal of Behavioral Addictions recently published a study that found that male students report spending nearly eight hours a day on their cell phones and female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day. The study also found that about 60% of study participants self-report that they might be addicted to their cell phones.

In a press release, lead researcher James Roberts, Ph.D. said about his findings, “That’s astounding. As cellphone functions increase, addictions to this seemingly indispensable piece of technology become an increasingly realistic possibility.”

Dr. Roberts is a professor of marketing at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business who surveyed 164 college undergrads about their relationship to their phones. In order to define ‘cell phone addiction,’ he explored which cell phone activities seemed to be most associated with what the respondents considered to be addiction to their cell phones. Roberts found that there were differences in specific cell phone activities between male and female participants. For example, women most often used Pinterest, Instagram and as well as the actual call-making function and Roberts saw these behaviors as possible cell phone addiction (listening to music was not).

On the other hand, men’s possible cell phone addiction predictors were the use of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as were phone calls, texts, emails and reading books and the Bible on their phone.

Roberts asserted that the gender differences could be construed that women use their phone to foster social relationships, while men see their cell phones as a source of entertainment and usefulness.

“Cell-phones have become inextricably woven into our daily lives — an almost invisible driver of modern life,” Roberts concluded in his study. “It is incumbent upon researchers to identify the all-important ‘tipping point’ where cell-phone use crosses the line from a helpful tool to one that enslaves both users and society alike.”

Behavioral Addiction Disorders and the DSM

It’s noteworthy that gambling addiction disorder is currently the only diagnosable behavioral addiction that’s officially listed in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). According to the American Psychological Association, gambling addiction disorder is classified in this way because it is similar to substance abuse disorders in that it can be described in terms of “clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, physiology, and treatment.”

Cell Phone Addiction Around the World

In a 2013 study in the UK, researchers surveyed a sample of 1,529 teenaged students regarding their cell phone use and classified 10% of the participants as “problematic users.” This portion of participants tended to consider themselves to be expert users of cell phones, used their cell phones extensively as well as identified that their peers had a similar problem.

In Turkey, a study of college students revealed that people who scored high on a scale for problematic cell phone use were more likely to come from poor families, have a type A personality and had received their first cell phone at age 13 or younger. Not surprisingly, the researchers other finding was that, as cell phone addiction levels increase, sleep quality decreases.

Study Results: Are You Addicted to Your Cell Phone?

It’s important to note that Roberts’ study shows that, of the people who are “addicted” to their cell phones, most are primarily using them as a way to stay connected to other people. In a 2013 blog post for Psychology Today, psychology professor Ira Hyman, Ph.D., writes that researchers might be making a mountain out of a molehill; what they are observing is the rise of a new norm in social interaction, which is immediate, hyper-connected and here to stay.

“Feeling a need to be socially connected hardly seems like an addiction to me,” Hyman writes.

Are You Addicted to Your Cell Phone? If you’re experiencing a behavioral addiction, such as internet, gambling, or cell phone addiction, or a substance abuse disorder, such as drug addiction, help is available. Please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist. We’re here to answer your questions.

Opinion: What the DSM 5 gets wrong (and right) about addiction

Opinion: What the DSM 5 gets wrong (and right) about addictionThe DSM or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is in its 5th edition and in this 5th edition it has made some edits  to a disease and word that applies heavily to  mine and your life especially if you have found yourself reading this; addiction. The DSM is meant to give doctors and psychiatrists kind of a guide book or bible if you will on how to diagnose disorders and diseases. This guide book should be as correct and science based as possible but due to its edits it has definitely gotten some things wrong, especially when it comes to addiction. Don’t get me wrong though, it has definitely gotten some things right.

This is the opinion: What the DSM 5 gets wrong (and right) about addiction

The DSM 5 has introduced behavioral addictions to the text

What is wrong with this? The DSM 5 has created a slippery slope by introducing the concept of Behavioral Addictions that eventually can spread to make a mental disorder of everything we like to do a lot. Watch out for careless over diagnosis of internet and sex addiction and the development of lucrative treatment programs to exploit these new markets.

What is right with this? The truth is some people need to be diagnosed with the disease of addiction even though they don’t experience the normal suffering of a withdrawal, the buildup of a tolerance and more like substance addicts do. People with gambling problems, sex problems and other behavioral issues can definitely fall under an addictive category but this is tricky and the DSM might have gotten it right but jumped to soon into adding it into the manual.

Substance Abusers or Problem Drinkers will be lumped in with the Hard Core Drug Addicts

What is wrong with this? First time substance abusers will be lumped in the definition of addiction with hard core addicts despite their very different treatment needs and prognosis. Not only does it do this, it also creates a whole new level of stigma against what addiction is. An example would be that someone who isn’t an addict but is diagnosed one based on the DSM 5 would be capable of just quitting. But someone like me wouldn’t be capable of doing that. So now the belief will be held that addicts can just stop. Do you see where I am getting at with this? It is lumping people who don’t really have what I have into a category with me; people who can stop, and don’t end up hurting people. This really could end up making looking addiction look like a moral failing on my part.

What is right with this? Not a whole lot in my opinion. It may save some unfortunate people from moving past the point of just being mere substance abusers or it could do the opposite. I am not really sure what is right about this to be totally honest.

 

Honestly I am not too qualified to be commenting on the DSM 5. All I know is my own experience with addiction. What do you think?

If you or someone you know is in need of addiction treatment please don’t hesitate to call us at toll free: 800-951-6135

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