Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Letter of the day | Gambling: endemic woes in Jamaica and small developing states

Published:Wednesday | February 12, 2020 | 12:20 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Gambling in Jamaica has spiralled to an alarming level, as it not only men who are addicted, woman are equating this phenomenon.

Richard Henry, from RISE Life Management Services, concludes that “A gambling disorder falls under the category of an addiction and has been clearly established as a disease with specific criteria for diagnosis, as well as course of treatment” (2018). Jamaica and other small developing state and their people clearly exhibit a gambling disorder. This disorder disrupts lives and normal functioning as a commonwealth citizen.

Gambling has reached an endemic level in Jamaica and the small developing states. People are doing all sort of immoralities to support their addition. Henry further lamented in his article that “…for over two decades, they have been engaging individuals, especially those with matters before the court that have come about as a result of their addiction to gambling”. It is evident in most of these cases that if the gambling addiction is not halted, the cycle of problems with the law will continue.

In a newspaper article, the late Janice Budd opined that “ some gambling addicts have literally spent their last dollar and starved, lost their jobs, had their utilities shut off, lose their houses, stolen from their spouses and children, borrow loans or had bill collectors hunt them down as they funnelled what money they had left into their gambling addiction”. This has reached a chaotic level and it does not only affects the addict, it also affects close relatives, friends, children, spouses and place of employment.

I am experiencing the gambling addiction first-hand as I have a loved one who is currently in a similar dilemma. We, the family members, are experiencing hurt, distress, sleepless nights, shame and embarrassment, all because of this person selfish addiction of gambling.

The gaming industry needs to do more to curtail this endemic crisis in Jamaica and the Caribbean. Yes, they have invested millions and want profits on their returns, and that is understandably. But inevitably, we are losing loved ones at their expense.

Gamblers need support. They need help; psychological help. This help and support can come in the form of family, love, therapy, and the individual’s strong will to stop the addiction. In the article ‘Science has a gambling problem, 2018’ researchers and government agencies pay too little attention to pathological gambling. This must change.

While gambling does not attack any particular organ in the body in the way that smoking attacks the lungs and alcohol the liver, it still needs attention and research. Please look out for friends, family and loved ones who appear to have a gambling addiction and offer support.

WHAT TO DO

Importantly, if you want to help you loved one with their gambling addition, don’t:

n Lose your temper, preach, lecture, or issue threats and ultimatums that you’re unable to follow through on.

n Overlook your partner’s positive qualities.

n Prevent your partner from participating in family life and activities.

n Expect your partner’s recovery from problem gambling to be smooth or easy. Even when their gambling stops, other underlying problems may surface.

n Bail your partner out of debt or enable their gambling in any way.

n Cover up or deny your partner’s problem to yourself or others.

KAREN R. MCFARLANE

Educator and Career

Development Practitioner