COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Addiction to gambling can not only lead to social, financial, and even emotional stress and also increased risk of suicide.
Throughout this week, recovery centers are putting a 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 do not talk about it,” said Maria Garner, gambling counselor at Maryhaven.
Throughout her career as a gambling counselor, Garner said she’s seen hundreds of people struggle with or refuse to admit their addiction to gambling.
It’s an issue she said has gotten worse, due to online gambling.
“There’s so many things that could trigger it, in a day, that it’s just, it is very difficult,” said Garner.
Take, for instance, one of her patients, Shelley Spohn.
“Before Maria, I was very hesitant to tell anyone, especially my family, which would lead me to gamble more,” said Shelley Spohn, a patient in recovery at Maryhaven.
Spohn said addiction to gambling started after she went back to school and got her bachelor’s degree.
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She’s a widow, who’s recently retired, and said the lack of things to do, led her to visiting the casinos.
Eventually, it turned into an addiction, leading Spohn to spend away her car, retirement, and even her husband’s life insurance.
“It was very devastating and very demoralizing, I felt very much, so much like a failure. And that led to basically thinking, there is no way out of this, other than suicide,” said Spohn.
At her lowest point, Spohn reached out to Maryhaven and was put in touch with Garner, who helped to get her life back on track.
Spohn is grateful, and hopes that others like her, won’t be afraid to ask for help.
“You can’t do it by yourself, absolutely you cannot do it by yourself. You need the support of your family, and your counselors, and anyone else that will support you,” said Spohn.