March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, with good reason. As March Madness reaches a peak with an estimated $10 billion in bets placed on the NCAA basketball championship games, calls to the National Problem Gambling Helpline spike an average of 30% during the month.
The goals of the 2023 Problem Gambling Awareness Month campaign are to:
- To increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of prevention, treatment & recovery services.
- To encourage healthcare providers to screen clients for problem gambling
Harm from gambling isn’t just about losing money. With problem gambling, the health consequences are more subtle and more complex to recognize than those with a substance use disorder. However, health consequences do occur, especially as gambling escalates. Physical and mental health suffers. Stress-related physical symptoms can include migraine headaches, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, and insomnia. Problem gambling can also produce increased depression, anxiety, and feelings of regret and shame about gambling.
Problem gambling not only has consequences for the person who gambles but also for family, friends, workplaces, and communities.
If you or someone you know has issues with gambling, contact Sieda Behavioral Health and Treatment Services at 641.683.6747. Other avenues of assistance include Your Life Iowa at YourLifeIowa.org/gambling or 1-800-BETS OFF.
Ilene Johnson, Certified Prevention Specialist