Holidays can be a stressful time for problem gamblers

Many Michiganders are looking forward to gifts and gatherings over the next couple weeks, but for some, including problem gamblers, the holidays can cause financial and personal stress.

“As we gather with family and friends this holiday season, we encourage everyone to be mindful of the stress that holidays can cause,” said Nick Lyon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). “Be on the lookout for signs of family members or friends seeking isolation or turning to gambling as a way to escape or to help pay for holiday gifts. Call the Gambling Helpline if you suspect someone you care about may have a gambling problem.”

While social gambling isn’t a problem for most, for those facing a gambling addiction, it provides a sense of control and escape which, over time, can affect other areas of life. To safeguard yourself or a loved one from problem gambling during the holiday season, MDHHS recommends:

– Don’t view gambling as a way to make money. Gambling should not be used as a way to supplement holiday spending.

– Be careful not to use gambling as a way to celebrate or mourn the holidays.

– A gift of gambling is not a gift. Avoid normalizing gambling through gifts of lottery, scratch-offs or other gambling activity; these are triggers to the unknown problem gambler.

– Make gambling a social activity – don’t gamble alone.

– Don’t wager more than you can afford to lose. Establish spending limits and stick to them.

– If you find that you’re gambling to escape the stress of the holidays, consider an alternative form of entertainment such as a movie, dinner or sporting event.

If your gambling is getting out of control, call the Michigan Problem Gambling Helpline at 800-270-7117. The Helpline offers 24-hour support and calls are answered by trained, professional staff who work with a statewide network of qualified treatment providers and have access to community resources to which callers can be referred. All calls are confidential. Those who suspect their loved ones may have a problem with gambling are also encouraged to call the Helpline for support.

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