As the Super Bowl pulls in record wagers, more people are seeking help for problem gambling. Christians can pull lessons from the opioid crisis to help with treatment.
Americans are gearing up to bet billions on the Super Bowl, but the quick expansion of gambling is leaving a trail of addiction in its wake.
Troy Adams is one of those in recovery. When he was a 22-year-old US Marine, Adams went with some other Marines to a Las Vegas casino the weekend before they deployed to Iraq. They played baccarat and won a lot of money. The casino offered them all free rooms and other comps.
“We were young and dumb and didn’t realize why they were doing these things,” he remembered. Years passed without him going to casinos again, but that feeling of winning stuck with him.
Years later, in 2016, he craved that feeling again when a lot of crises piled up: Massive flooding hit his home in southern Louisiana, his brother’s wife died unexpectedly, and his dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
“I started going to the casino as an escape,” he told CT. “It became my safe haven and my refuge.” Like any other addiction, he said, “you physically cannot stop. You can’t see a way out.” It began to take over his life.
The science of gambling addiction works similarly to addictive substances. The American Psychiatric Association added gambling to its category of behavioral addictions in 2013, based on research that it is similar to substance abuse in “clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, physiology, and treatment.”
It was the first non-substance behavioral addiction to be classified this way, but Americans still don’t see gambling as a potential problem like drugs or alcohol. And churches often don’t see the moral hazards of gambling or the need for recovery ministry for gambling.
Kentucky is one of the few holdout states …