Gambling Addiction and Its Behavioral Effects

Gambling addiction is a serious mental health disorder, which can be identified in two ways: a person either a) continuously bet on things using money or objects that hold value even though negative consequences arise as a result, or, b) they cannot stop gambling even if they desired to. People suffering from gambling addiction often display a strong urge to bet on a wide-range of gambling mediums-from sports games to poker, to choosing lottery numbers and throwing dice. And although friends and family members of compulsive gamblers don’t see the symptoms physically, like they often do with alcoholics or drug abusers, the consequences gambling addiction has serious implications on their lives as well as the lives of their friends and families. Not realizing its severity or taking it too lightly can be devastating for the addicted gambler in the long run. Gamblers can reach a point of literally losing everything, from cars, to homes, to businesses, and even respect from those they care about.

It’s well-known that Florida is notorious for providing “the hotspot” for gamblers all over the world, as well as its residents. But how many gamblers actually endure financial problems? A recent survey by the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling shed light on card playing, reporting that 70% of these people had trouble paying their bills. But here’s the worst part, which is known to be a side-effect of excessive gambling–1 in 3 of these card players admitted to having participated in illicit activities in order to finance their gambling. Playing cards isn’t as harmless as we thought; criminal activity is still a cause for concern.

Gambling addicts are not always obvious about their situation; sometimes they don’t even realize it themselves. They don’t dwell on what has been lost as a result of their destructive activities and behaviors. Instead, compulsive gamblers only focus on the gains, or the supposed investment aspect of the games they play. And unlike drug or alcohol addiction, a person addicted to gambling will not display symptoms such as heavy fatigue, sickness, loss of energy or dizziness; instead, other factors are apparent, such as falling into deep financial trouble, losing quality time with the ones they love, and heightening the chances of entering into drug or alcohol addiction.

It’s difficult to establish who has a gambling problem and who doesn’t. Where is the threshold between social gamblers, and abusive gamblers? Are there any red flags? The answer is yes. Pathological gamblers often display one or more of the following signs: negligent of family get-togethers, acts on criminal behavior in order to acquire more stuff to bet on, would rather gamble then hang out with friends, talk excessively about gambling and winning money, use drugs or alcohol to distract them from wanting to gamble more, become irritated when not gambling, neglect vital responsibilities for gambling time, and lying to family and friends about going out gambling. A combination of these signs should be a red flag when identifying a compulsive gambler. But remember, none of these signs mention the amount of times a person gambles in a period of time. It’s not about “quantity.” A person can gamble every day and it may not affect his life. Also, gambling addiction isn’t OK if you’re wealthy; rich gamblers can still have issues like neglecting their loved ones and other vital responsibilities.

Florida is well-known for its casinos, entertainment arenas and cruise ship gambling. But environmental factors such as these may cause people to be more susceptible to the development of gambling addiction. Gambling addiction isn’t a problem that stands alone-it may lead to criminal behavior, psychological distress and depression, and fuel other more dangerous addictions. As stated earlier, a person may fall into drug or alcohol addiction in order to supplement or replace their gambling behavior. The combination of multiple addictions can be devastating and more difficult to treat; it would be like tangling a web of loose strings and trying to unravel them all at once.

Addiction specialists and counselors use a variety of methods in treating gambling addiction effectively, including: helping the addict understand what drives him or her to gamble, replacing their betting habits with more productive activities, understanding how it affects the people they care about, and finally, strengthening one’s will to live a more productive lifestyle. If you notice warning signs that you or your loved one is suffering from gambling addiction, it is crucial to intervene and find treatment before it is too late. Doctors treat gambling addiction as a serious brain disease, and people suffering from it are also prone to drug addiction. The importance of acquiring immediate treatment can be the difference between losing everything, and saving someone’s life.

The Gamble Rogers Festival

For those of you who are planning on attending the 12th Annual Gamble Rogers Folk Festival in St. Augustine, Florida on May 4, 5, and 6 of this year, you may know that this festival showcases a variety of musical talent, ranging from Michael Smith, to The Burns Sisters Band, from Amy Carol Webb, to The Cook Trio. You may also know that this festival offers performances by local musicians, contests, arts and crafts, and discounted local accommodations. What you might not know, however, is the story behind Gamble Rogers. It’s not only a tale of talent and tragedy, but also of uncompromised heroism.

James Gamble Rogers IV was born on the last day of January 1937 in Winter Park, Florida. While his father and grandfather were architectural geniuses, Rogers took a path that led him away from architecture and into the open arms of music. He became a folk singing legend – influencing Jimmy Buffet along the way and leading him to dedicate his album, Fruitcakes, to Rogers.

Called a “national treasure” by journalists, Rogers was well known for his songs about Oklawaha, Florida, a fictional town full of colorful characters and stories. He was also known for his guitar playing and uncanny ability to captivate any audience for which he performed. He reintroduced the art of story telling and served as the proverbial father of Florida Folk Music. He also released several albums, some posthumously. His albums included The Lord Gives Me Grace And The Devil Gives Me Style, Sorry is As Sorry Does, Signs of a Misspent Youth, and Good Causes.

Rogers became most revered not for his musical acts but for his act of bravery, an act that ultimately led to his death. In October of 1991, while camping in Flagler Beach, Florida, Rogers heard someone who needed help. He followed the voice to find a man named Raymond Tracey stuck in rough water. Rogers jumped in and made the ultimate sacrifice: he saved the life of Tracey and lost his own life in the process.

Folk singing, unlike other genres of music, does not belong to the young: many folk singers get better with age. Because of this, Rogers, at the time of his death, seemed to be just getting started, leaving the world of folk music to shake its head and wonder what might have been.

For his musical talent, he was inducted to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame in 1987 and posthumously given a Folk Heritage Award in 1993. For his sacrificing act, Rogers was awarded the Kiwanis Award for bravery and the Carnegie Award for heroism. The area of the beach where Rogers met his death was renamed The Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area at Flagler, Beach and a school in St. Augustine was renamed The Gamble Rogers Middle School in St. Augustine. Rogers memory, his songs, and tributes to him also live on at the Gamble Rogers Memorial Foundation, a foundation set up with the purpose of never forgetting a legend.