Gambling addicts need help and support

Letters to the Editor

Gambling addicts need help and support

Thursday, February 13, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Gambling in Jamaica has spiralled to an alarming level, with men and women showing addiction.

Richard Henry from RISE Life Management Services concludes that “A gambling disorder falls under the category of an addiction and has been clearly established as a disease with specific criteria for diagnosis as well as course of treatment.”

In a 2012 Jamaica Observer article, the late Janice Budd wrote that “Some gambling addicts have literally spent their last dollar and starved, lost their jobs, had their utilities shut off, lost their houses, stolen from their spouses and children, borrowed loans or had bill collectors hunt them down as they funnelled what money they had left into their gambling addiction”.

This does not only affect the addict, it also affects close relatives, friends, children, spouses and places of employment. I am experiencing the gambling addiction first-hand as I have a loved one who is currently in a similar dilemma. We, the family members, are experiencing hurt, distress, sleepless nights, shame and embarrassment all because of this person's addiction to gambling.

The gaming industry needs to do more to curtail this endemic crisis in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Yes, the industry has invested millions and wants profits on its returns, and that is understandable. But inevitably, we are losing loved ones at their expense.

People addicted to gambling need help and support in the form of family, love, and therapy.

A 2018 article headlined 'Science has a gambling problem' states that researchers and government agencies pay too little attention to pathological gambling. This must change. While, gambling does not attack any particular organ in the body in the way that smoking attacks the lungs, and alcohol the liver, it still needs attention and research.

Please look out for friends, family and loved ones who appear to have a gambling addiction and offer support. Importantly, if you want to help your loved one with their gambling addition, the advice from professionals is don't:

• lose your temper, preach, lecture, or issue threats and ultimatums that you're unable to follow through on;

• overlook your partner's positive qualities;

• prevent your partner from participating in family life and activities;

• expect your partner's recovery from gambling addiction to be smooth or easy, as even when their gambling stops, other underlying problems may surface;

• bail your partner out of debt or enable their gambling in any way; and

• cover-up or deny your partner's problem to yourself or others.

Help to address addiction can be received from Gamblers Anonymous (876) 969- 3555, (876) 877-7074 or (876) 470-7501; and RISE Life Management Services, Kingston, via e-mail at

Karen Mc Farlane

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