Gambling in New Jersey is on the rise and has taken its toll on its most vulnerable citizens. The number of calls to the 1-800 Gambler Helpline increased almost 4% in one year, from 9,461 phone calls in 2012 to 9,800 in 2013. There is an increased prevalence of problem gambling and pathological gambling as well. Problem gambling can lead to many negative consequences, including financial constraints and damaged personal relationships.
Problem gambling is a hidden addiction and fairly easy to mask, as there are few to no physical symptoms that can be observed. It is even easier to hide among older adults because often times they live alone and if there are signs or symptoms, they are frequently misread or attributed to the overall aging process. This population also values its autonomy and are not likely to accept or seek assistance from family members about a potential gambling problem.
On March 15, 2016, Wellspring Center for Prevention coordinated a conference entitled, “Out of the Dark: Addressing the Hidden Addiction of Gambling Among Older Adults”. Professionals from across Middlesex County and beyond attended this informative event, walking away with information and resources to share with their colleagues and assist the older adults with whom they work.
Documents from the conference: