Is your grandmother constantly playing Bingo? Do your friends take every vacation in Las Vegas, even though they can’t afford to lose? When relatives come to visit, do they always make a detour to a nearby Indian reservation in order to gamble? You can have a gambling problem the same way you can be addicted to alcohol or drugs?it’s the same personality profile. And just like alcoholics and drug addicts, gamblers need the help of a twelve-step program.

Addictions are heart-breakers because addicted people have to touch bottom before they will face the fact that they need help. Usually they have plenty of what Alcoholics Anonymous calls “enablers”?well meaning friends who actually end up encouraging their addictions. Also, some people seem to have DNA for addiction. Many people abuse both alcohol and drugs, and if you go to an AA meeting, you will find a haze of cigarette smoke, as well as huge coffee urns brewing up caffeine full time.

Psychologist Wendy S. Slutske says, “?Problem gambling [is] significantly associated with?alcohol dependence, cannabis dependence, and nicotine dependence. The associations between problem gambling and the three substance use disorders are similar in magnitude and were nearly as large as the well-established association between alcohol and nicotine dependence.”

All those trips to the casino may just be for fun, but they could also be a sign of big trouble ahead.

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