Super Bowl can be a trigger for those struggling with problem gambling.


The Super Bowl is rapidly approaching. This football game is one of the most watched Sports events of the year.  It is also one of the most gambled on games and can be a big concern for families of people struggling with gambling problems.

Gambling and the Super Bowl

Super Bowl media attention is everywhere. You can hear about it on the news, on sports stations, in the newspapers and in every office we work in. Many offices have square charts in the back room where employees can participate in gambling on who they believe would win or the points or on how long the national anthem will last or anything else. Some people literally gamble on every aspect of the event.

If an individual, or groups of individuals, are so focused on gambling on every part of the Super Bowl event, are they really enjoying the game or are they hunting for a “high?”  And if they’re only hunting for the high, what about their careers?  What about loved ones (family children, etc.)?  If the individual is so hyper focused on gambling rather than enjoying the game, it seems that this becomes the focus and takes away from the social aspects of enjoying a sporting event with loved ones.

The Effects of Problem Gambling

For people struggling with problem gambling, this might be their story. There are many people across New York State who experience a slew of problems associated with their gambling behavior. Some of these problems can be damaged relationships with a spouse and/or children, conflicts at work, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety.  Gambling may have even turned into an addiction (i.e., gambling disorder).

For people in recovery, the Super Bowl may be a huge trigger to start gambling again. It may be difficult to avoid talking about the Super Bowl, hearing people talk about betting on the Super Bowl, and feeling the urge to resort to old habits and place a bet of some type on this event.  The Super Bowl may trigger a relapse.

Families Can Take Action

Families and loved ones of someone struggling with a gambling problem, or of someone in recovery from problem gambling may face similar obstacles to support their loved one who is struggling with problem gambling. Similarly, they can be helpful and supportive during this time of year.

Have a conversation

Having a conversation is important for everyone. Whether it’s to let someone know that you believe their gambling is causing problems, or to connect with someone in recovery and find out how they’re feeling. A conversation is a really easy way to get a finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the individual. It’s also a good way to gauge how the family can plan for the upcoming event.

A conversation could be as simple as asking questions like:

  • How are you feeling lately?
  • Are you feeling any pressure at work or from friends to gamble?
  • Are you planning on watching the Super Bowl or would you like us to plan something else as a family?

Some simple questions can get some simple answers. They could also be a springboard to a deeper conversation about the negative effects sports gambling has had. It can also be a great way to identify triggers and other activity ideas to avoid gambling on the Super Bowl.

Identifying Triggers

Triggers are anything that causes an individual to feel the urge to gamble. A trigger could be a commercial about the Super Bowl, it could be hearing the excitement of colleagues talking about their squares, or a trigger could be just knowing the time of year and remembering the feeling, the high, of gambling on the Super Bowl in previous years.  Whatever the triggers may be, it’s important for family and love ones to know what they are so they can help avoid them in conversation, and help prepare the person, struggling to avoid gambling, to know their triggers and come up with alternative activities.

 Alternative Activities

Alternative activities can be different ways to enjoy the Super Bowl. These ways include:

  • Watching it with different people who aren’t gambling,
  • Keeping phones with gambling contacts and apps away,
  • Asking a spouse to keep a close watch on extra money,
  • Avoiding media and social media,
  • Spending time with different people than those who are gambling, and
  • Planning activities that have nothing to do with the Super Bowl.

For people who want to avoid the Super Bowl, so they don’t find themselves in additional problems related to gambling, there are many other things to do during that time.  Ideas to spend time with love ones can include:

  • Boardgames,
  • Legos with children,
  • Video games,
  • Hiking,
  • Bike riding,
  • Snowshoeing,
  • Renovating a room in your home, or
  • Anything else that takes time, energy and focus.

Being that many of us are alone, especially with social distancing, choosing activities to do by yourself is also important. Some activities to do on your own can include (similar to above):

  • Video games,
  • Reading,
  • Re-organizing part of your home,
  • Video chatting with love ones,
  • Planning a movie or night of binge watching your favorite TV show,
  • Reading, or
  • Any type of art or craft.

Really, the options are limitless. And if you’re unsure what to do, reach out to a loved one and find out the best way to fill that time. Making sure there’s a plan to help keep loved ones safe is the best preventative care to help them avoid further problems associated with gambling.

Additional Support

If you need additional support, or your loved one who struggles with gambling problems has decided to look for help, please reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center at NYProblemGamblingHELP.org. There you can connect with a dedicated professional eager to help you identify local resources and get connected to local support as desired. There is no pressure with that call; only care and concern. Your local Problem Gambling Resource Center is HERE TO HELP.

 


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