Gambling Addiction Rapidly Growing Problem for Youth in Iowa

Gambling has become practically a national pastime. Recent reports suggest that more money is spent on gambling than other entertainment venues combined. Along with this love affair for risk has come a growing addiction.

In a recent Sioux City Journal article, gambling therapist Matt Cihak believes it is only a matter of time before his clientele takes on a younger average age. “Our gambling patients still tend to be in the late 40s or early 50s,” he said in the Journal. “But with an increase of poker on TV and a host of Internet sites available, kids have never been exposed to gambling more than they are now.”

Gambling is considered a form of risk-taking rebellion, according to Cihak. Family history can play a role in increasing the risk, much like it does in alcoholism and drug abuse. Warning signs can include a teen preoccupied with gambling. He or she will also be excited by the results and become irritable when asked to stop.

Too often, even with these signs, a gambling addiction can still remain under the radar. “Obviously, if your child said he’s going over to his friend’s house to drink and do a lot of drugs, a parent would be outraged,” Cihak said. “But if your child said he’s going to play cards with his friends, most parents would think nothing of it.”

The National Council on Problem Gambling found in 2006 that one percent of Iowa’s adult population struggles with pathological gambling; two percent of the state’s adolescent population struggles with pathological gambling; two percent of the population of Iowa struggles with problem gambling; and four percent of adolescents in the state struggle with problem gambling.

Based on these statistics alone, Iowa is set to see an emergence of significant gambling problems and the need for addition treatment among the adolescent and young adult sector.

There is still hope.

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