Often a silent addiction, gambling can lead to severe personal and social problems. Qualified help is imperative.

Compulsive gambling does not discriminate based upon age, gender, income, education or ethnicity. It is a progressive disorder that can result in the devastation of one's finances, career, relationships and even one's life.

For many, the addiction of gambling takes over the control of a person’s day to day life. Gambling can be found in many different disguises such as bingo, cards, horse or dog racing, and the numerous casinos where the allure to gamble can be overwhelming.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, pathological gambling is a treatable mental health disorder. Some of the characteristics to look for are a loss of control over gambling, chasing losses to regain lost money, lies and deception, family and job disruption, financial bailouts and illegal acts. Studies show that among compulsive gamblers, the crime rate can reach 50-67%. It is estimated that problem and pathological gamblers cost the United States approximately $5 billion per year and an additional $40 billion in lifetime costs for productivity reductions, social services and creditor losses.

Prevalence studies done by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) have documented that adult problem and pathological gamblers are almost four times as likely to have been arrested as non-problem gamblers, and adolescents are also exhibiting illegal behavior related to their gambling. An FCCG study of youth within the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice system found that 17% of adolescents, ages 11-20, attributed their imprisonment in the juvenile justice facility to gambling.

Based on 3,270 calls to the FCCG Help Line (2007/2008), illegal acts fund gambling or to pay off gambling debts has been committed by 30% of the callers (by fraud, embezzlement, larceny, theft and other acts). As part of their educational program, the National Council on Problem Gambling has established a web site to highlight issues and increase public knowledge while celebrating their 7th annual NCPG Awareness Week. The website can be found at:

Gambling addiction, as with any type of addiction, is a disorder that should be treated by a qualified gambling professional. Soundside Wellness Consultants, located at 205 Shell Avenue in Ft. Walton Beach, has a certified gambling professional on staff that will address gambling issues and assist individuals on their path to recovery. If you would like to receive additional information or schedule an appointment for services please call Soundside at 850-226-8585.

Submitted by J. Craig Boydston, LCSW, NCGC-II

For more information or assistance, contact Soundside Wellness Consultants at
850-226-8585 in Fort Walton Beach or 850-689-7844 in Crestview.

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More than 650,000 older adults in Florida report having a problem due to gambling

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