COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Gambling addiction can result in not only social, financial, and even emotional stress, but also an increased risk of suicide.
Later this week, recreation centers are putting the spotlight on the dangers of gambling addiction in local communities through a nationwide campaign called Responsible Gaming Week.
“It’s a hidden addiction, a lot of people don’t talk about it,” said Maria Garner, gambling advisor in Maryhaven.
Throughout her career as a gambling advisor, Garner said she’s seen hundreds of people struggling with their gambling addiction or refusing to admit their gambling addiction.
It’s a problem she said got worse because of online gambling.
“There are so many things that could trigger it in a day that it is just very difficult,” said Garner.
Take one of her patients, Shelley Spohn, for example.
“Before Maria, I was very reluctant to tell anyone, especially my family, which would encourage me to play more,” said Shelley Spohn, a recovering patient in Maryhaven.
Spohn said the gambling addiction started after she went back to school and got her bachelor’s degree.
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She is a widow who recently retired and said the lack of employment made her go to the casinos.
It eventually turned into an addiction that led Spohn to ditch her car, retirement, and even her husband’s life insurance.
âIt was very devastating and very demoralizing, I felt very, so much like a failure. And that led to the fact that you basically thought there was no other way out than suicide, âsaid Spohn.
At her lowest point, Spohn turned to Maryhaven and was put in touch with Garner, who helped her get her life going again.
Spohn is grateful and hopes that others like her are not afraid to ask for help.
âYou cannot do it alone, absolutely you cannot do it alone. You need the support of your family, your advisors and everyone else who supports you, âsaid Spohn.