For some, gambling is just a playful roll of the dice or being dealt the perfect hand of cards. To others, it becomes a debilitating addiction where taking chances become a necessity.
Identifying a gambler with a problem can be difficult because there are no specific physical signs. The first indication is usually when financial resources significantly decrease.
"When it comes to questionable money missing, especially in checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement accounts; those are the types of things (to watch for)," said Patrick Damond, supervisor of the Substance Abuse Services Program with Family Services of Warren County.
Other warning signs include the person spending excessive amounts of time gambling at the expense of his or her job and family, or having frequent mood swings depending on if they win or lose.
According to Damond, there are two types of gambling.
The first is passive, which are activities like bingo, slot machines, pull tickets and lottery tickets.
The second is active, which includes horse racing and various card games.
"The active gambler loves to be challenged," Damond said, adding that such gamblers try to develop a formula on how to consistently win.
With the depressed state of the economy, more people are desperate to earn money quickly and may turn to gambling as a solution.
"I wouldn't be surprised to see where a lot of gamblers begin to increase (wagering) because of that," said Damond.
Convincing a person addicted to gambling to seek treatment is not always easy, according to Damond, because of the emotional toll it takes on an individual.
"A lot of times, because there is such a sense of guilt and embarrassment and resistance, you're lucky if you can keep the person in treatment for three sessions," said Damond. "A lot of that is tied into the emotional part of 'I just ruined our family's wealth.'"
Many times the treatment involves working with the family over the person with the actual problem.
"You spend a lot of time working with the family, who has to deal with this person who is gambling their fortunes away and helping the family set up ways to deal with that," said Damond.
He suggested changing the name on banking accounts and canceling credit cards to limit accessibility.
Another option is a harm reduction plan, which is a way to reduce the amount of gambling without completely stopping the activity.
"Sometimes it's a matter of trying to reduce the amount of damage that they're doing to the family," said Damond.
Damond is currently seeking certification as a nationally accredited gambling addiction counselor.
Family Services of Warren County is located at 185 Hospital Drive on the Warren State Hospital grounds. For more information on gambling addiction or Family Services of Warren County, call 723-1330.