What do alarms and problem gambling have in common?
Waking up in the morning for me consists of no less than 3 alarms, all set to go off in 10-15 minute increments. Three is my safe number. The first alarm is for when I am feeling ambitious. This alarm is the least utilized but still in the running just in case I decide to dig for that extra motivation that will allow me to make coffee, spend time on my hair and makeup, and possibly consume a bowl of cereal. The second alarm is so I have a normal amount of time to get ready and eliminates rushing around trying to get out of the door on time. The third alarm is the final reminder that I have to wake up and get out the door in a mad dash. The third alarm usually results in dry shampoo and a ponytail. Sometimes I will throw some eyeliner and mascara on for good measure and give the appearance of being more awake than I actually am.
At what point does my alarm dependency become a problem? I know I have to wake up in the morning. I know I have to make myself presentable before leaving the house. I know I have committed to arriving at a specified time. Yet, I still gamble with time when I shut off the first and second alarms, only to wait for that third blaring signal to let me know I am out of time.
What do alarms and problem gambling have in common? Pay-day is here and I am at the convenience store fueling up and getting a snack for the drive home. Those scratch-off tickets behind the counter call out to me. I have a little extra this week. Why not try my luck? What’s that I hear? The first alarm. I turn it off. I know I have a little bit of room to play with so this won't hurt anything. I win and a $20 purchase turns into $50.
The second alarm sounds as I take that $50 dollar win and purchase more tickets. Thinking, I more than doubled my money the first time around, this will only add to my total winnings, right? By the time I hear the third alarm I have lost my initial $20, but by this point, I have bought so many tickets that the next ticket has to be a big winner, right?
Daily, I am working to silence the alarms going off around me alerting me to a problem. No longer is that first alarm a couple of tickets on pay-day, now it’s waiting for pay-day because I know this time I’ll get lucky and I’ll stop right after I hit it big this one time. The second alarm is no longer a caution that I’m ahead but an annoying reminder that I am in the hole. The third alarm is so loud and signals that I’m late, late on paying my overdue bills but I’m determined that with this borrowed $20 I’ll pay off everything when I hit the jackpot, but I am out of time.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, problem gambling—or gambling addiction—includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt, or damage personal, family, or vocational pursuits. Anyone who gambles can develop problems if they are not aware of the risks and do not gamble responsibly. When gambling behavior interferes with finances, relationships, and the workplace, a serious problem already exists. Gambling becomes a problem when it begins to negatively impact one’s life. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, there is help.
When seeking treatment for gambling it is important to know that no single treatment approach is appropriate for all individuals. The National Council on Problem Gambling has resources and guidelines to help you discover the solution that is best for you.
If you or someone you know experiences problem gambling, know that you are not alone. There is help. Please reach out today.
NATIONAL PROBLEM GAMBLING HELPLINE 1-800-522-4700
For Help in Kansas Check out the following:
KANSAS COALITION ON PROBLEM GAMBLING
Facebook: Kansas Coalition on Problem Gambling
Author: Felicia Lama