Gambling used to be illegal and now it’s legal in every state except for three: Utah, Hawaii, and Tennessee. Gambling used to be considered wrong and immoral but now it turns out that according to many officials and tv ads - gambling is the new fun pastime. Television spots portray gambling the same way they do alcohol and cigarettes, as a cool fun way to spend your time with no risks, no consequences and even more so they show that “everybody” is doing it which means you should too. This kind of advertising and image portrayal shows our teenagers an inaccurate image of gambling. What they don’t show is the people who waste their lives away sitting in front of a computer screen, betting into the night, or people who lose their homes and valuables and even their families as a result of their betting. This is the kind of truth that our teenagers really need to see as opposed o the glossed over images the media provides them with.
The truth is that gambling is an addiction just like drugs and alcohol that can seriously ruin a teenagers life at an early age. Gambling is an easy addiction because not only of the thrill behind it but because of the potential many teens see in it as a way to make money without the pressures of school or a job. Teens also view it as a way to show off their superior knowledge and intellect - because they’re winning at something and that makes them right. This can be a fun little game until a teen starts losing and once they do it can be an addictive downward spiral. The thrill of the win has gone so they have to keep chasing it to get their kick which means betting more and more money and eventually the teen will get caught up in the shame of how much money they’ve lost which means hiding their addiction habits from those around them.
The best way to deal with a gambling addiction in a teen is to create a safe, positive loving environment for them to share about their addiction and then encourage them down the path of recovery. For some teenagers with a gambling addiction the path of recovery may only require that they go through some treatment and stay away from any outlets they might gamble through for a while. For others it ma require treatment as well as a local GA group and for others it might require some medication or some aftercare as well. It may also require that they have a financially responsible person carry their money for them so that they don’t have access to spend it without the approval of that person.
Once your teenager realizes that he has a safe environment where he can be open about his problem with gambling then its much more likely that, with the support of his family and friends, he’ll be able to recover and begin a fresh new start while placing his addiction firmly behind him.