There’s nothing better than gathering with your family and spending some quality time together while reading a good book. During National Family Literacy Month, we want to encourage family members of all ages to brush up on their literacy skills as we tackle the growing issue of lack of education surrounding problem gambling.
Next time you’re with your family, we suggest taking some time to learn together about what problem gambling is and how to recognize signs early on. Keep reading for key information that details the importance of prevention and education, what problem gambling looks like, how a lack of literacy can impact at-risk populations, and the hope that’s available for every member of the family.
Problem Gambling Literacy is in Your Family’s Best Interest
Well-developed literacy skills are the cornerstone of a well-rounded education, and at the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG), we want to widen the horizon of general education to include problem gambling warning signs, resources, access to help, and more. As people become more aware of gambling risks , and know warning signs of compulsive gambling behaviors to look for, they can better protect themselves and their loved ones from developing gambling-related problems. .
No matter what life stage a person is in, they can experience unique risks that may make them more vulnerable to problem gambling. This is why it’s important to take this month to reflect on the whole family’s level of literacy as it relates to the quality of education on important topics, including problem gambling. Compulsive gambling is often referred to as a “hidden disorder,” but it is a condition that can potentially lead to severe personal and social consequences. It’s very difficult to detect because there are no visible outward physical symptoms. In fact, gambling problems largely go undetected by others, with even those closest to the gambler unaware that a problem even exists, despite the negative life consequences that the gambler experiences.
Problem gambling literacy is the key to understanding this disease and recognizing the warning signs of a gambling problem. These include, but are not limited to:
- Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
- Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down on gambling
- Chasing losses
- Lying to hide the extent of gambling
- Risking relationships or job security 
Additionally, if a person is dealing with these symptoms of problem gambling but can’t read proficiently, they may have a more difficult time seeking help for problem gambling. Where a simple online search or library trip may help educate someone on the resources available for problem gambling help, those who have poor literacy skills can experience an unnecessary barrier between them and the help that is available. .
As we celebrate Family Literacy Month, it is essential to remember the importance of education on issues like problem gambling; although commonly referred to as the “hidden illness”, its impacts are widespread. Through literacy efforts surrounding problem gambling this November and beyond, we can shine the light on this invisible addiction and provide families with the tools needed to recognize warning signs of a gambling problem in the home, and access appropriate supports if necessary.
Help is Here
Even if a gambler or loved one is unable to read, help and hope for problem gambling can still be accessed. When people contact the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine, they can speak with a live HelpLine Specialist for confidential, multilingual, free, 24/7 support. There are no barriers to getting help through the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine; available resources include the FCCG’s Peer Connect Program, the on-demand “Online Program for Problem Gamblers” (OPPG), A Chance for Change Recovery Workbooks, available in not just print but also audio format for gamblers, loved ones, and senior gamblers, as well as stories of recovery that can be found on our YouTube channel, just to name a few..
If you or someone you know are experiencing difficulties due to problem gambling, start the journey of recovery today by contacting Florida’s Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321-978-0555), emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org), chatting (gamblinghelp.org), or visiting us on our mobile app or social media.
- “Compulsive Gambling.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 June 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/compulsive-gambling/symptoms-causes/syc-20355178#:~:text=Feeling%20restless%20or%20irritable%20when,the%20extent%20of%20your%20gambling.