Gambling Disorder and Help During the Era of COVID-19
What is gambling disorder during the era of COVID-19?
When COVID-19 struck the United States, one of the first things that went were the diversions that we all like to take advantage of, going out to eat, possibly going to picnics with friends, all of these things that we used to do that brought us joy, that brought us pleasure, suddenly were gone. They were unsafe. We couldn't do them. In the place of these activities that we could do together were activities that we could do alone. And one of those activities has been gambling. Gambling that people do from their phones, gambling that people do from their computers. The amount of wagering on horse-racing has been unprecedented. People are betting more on horse-racing today than they ever have before. Many people who are gambling on anything will emerge from this era having lost a few dollars, but their lives pretty much unchanged. Sadly, about 10% of the people who are engaged in gambling will develop gambling disorder. What is gambling disorder? Gambling disorder is when gambling goes from an activity that's entertaining to an activity that is all-consuming, an activity that takes over people's lives, where they spend hours and hours gambling. They gamble more and more money on each bet to try and recoup the losses that they had previously. At times people do not perform their normal daily activities just because they don't wanna be taken away from the ability to wager.
How can I get help?
Just as new technology has led more people to develop gambling disorder, new technology such as video visits on your phone or on your computer can lead you to recovery. The same devices that are leading you towards a life that you don't want can be the devices that help you lead the life that you do want. If you or a loved one are suffering from gambling disorder, I hope that you will contact us at Montefiore Health System, or contact another reputable health system, to get the help that is available, to get the help that you need. And I hope that during this time you stay strong.
How can someone get help with gambling disorder during the era of COVID-19?
During the era of COVID-19 we have had to be separated from many of the people and many of the activities that we love. In the place of these activities many people have started gambling. Gambling has been on the rise. Ratings for horse-racing and wagering for horse-racing have been on the rise. And for most people this will not be a problem, except for negligible financial losses. But when enough people are gambling, enough people, a significant number of people, are actually going to develop problems with gambling. Gambling disorder. Just as this gambling is taking place across platforms, like a phone or a computer, those same platforms can help guide you towards wellness from the comfort and the convenience and the privacy of your own home. Video visits. Video group therapy. Video assessments by a physician for possible medical causes of gambling disorder, which do exist, or assessment of medications that might aid in your recovery. These can all take place in addition to that. Major academic health systems, like Montefiore Health System, we can help you get hooked up to self-help groups, like Gambler's Anonymous, again, which are being conducted via video from people's homes. This is a challenging time, and people are responding to those challenges, unfortunately, occasionally with behavior which is harmful to themselves and harmful to their lives and to their relationships. But it's also an era through video where people are getting unprecedented levels of treatment. And I hope that you will be one of those people who takes advantage of it. Together, through this era, I hope that we will stay strong.