Gambling addiction is growing especially for the young. The statistics are alarming. A survey of adolescents found that more than 80 percent of those between 12 and 17 say they have gambled in the last 12 months. More than 35 percent say they gamble at least once a week.
Young people begin gambling for innocent reasons, often at a very early age and with the endorsement of their parents and family. Like with alcohol and drugs, young people see people they respect engaged in these activities and deem them to be acceptable. Then when an opportunity to gamble presents itself, they are often more open and accepting.
As with adults, youth gambling addiction can negatively impact every aspect of life, from learning and school performance, to mental and physical health. It can lead to criminal and other anti-social behavior. Studies have found that some young problem gamblers are also fighting alcohol and drug addictions.
As with any addictive behavior, there are clear symptoms of a developing problem.
— Unexplained need for money
— Money or possessions missing from home
— Unexplained charges on credit card bills
— Withdrawal from friends and family
— Missing school or classes
— Frequent anxiety, depression or mood swings
— Dropping of outside activities and interests
— Excessive watching of TV sports
— Undue upset at the outcome of a sports match
— Late night calls
— Sudden drops in grades
— Interest in sports teams with no previous allegiance
— Calling 900 numbers for sports scores and point spreads
— Displays of unexplained wealth
If you suspect a problem, a professional assessment is recommended.