Powerball fever has been sweeping the nation ever since last week. Everyone is wondering if they’re holding the $1.5 billion ticket in their hands tonight. Playing the Powerball lottery can be fun for some, but it’s a huge trigger for recovering gambling addicts.
Even just buying one Powerball ticket can lead to a potentially dangerous situation. People have been lining up in droves across the country to get their hands on one of the winning Powerball tickets. But even spending just $2.00 on one Powerball ticket can lead to the start of a gambling addiction, or lead you back in, if you have one already.
Counselors and experts have said that buying a lottery ticket is a literal gamble when it comes to your mental health and state of well-being. Counselors from the Burrell Behavioral Health in Springfield help treat those with gambling addictions. As the Powerball jackpot grew, counselors noticed that people were buying more tickets because of the rush they feel that they might win.
But for gambling addicts, they use the money from their savings or take out loans to buy multiple lottery tickets, leading to an addiction. Sometimes, buying one ticket is not enough, and it could cause them to buy tickets for other lotteries.
“It’s like being an alcoholic just because there’s a big celebration, we’re still saying don’t drink don’t take that first drink because it’s not guaranteed to be your last one and potentially reactivate those problems and cause more in the future so someone with a gambling addiction, yeah, don’t buy that ticket, don’t buy that ticket.”
It’s called “gambling” for a reason. These kinds of people are willing to spend enormous amounts of money on their Powerball tickets. It’s the same for those who frequent racetracks or casinos except that they’re frequenting their local convenience store instead.
Gambling expert Loli Rugle calls this experience the “fantasy world of the problem gambler.” Those who have a gambling problem view the Powerball lottery differently from everyone else. Instead of realizing the prize is a fun fantasy, the gambling addict truly believes that the jackpot is their logical way out of a difficult solution.
“That hope is such a powerful incentive. Especially if you haven’t had hope or learned to have hope in a more reality-based way.”
Unfortunately for gambling addicts, Powerball mania is everywhere and it’s hard to escape, especially if the jackpot continues to grow. National certified gambling counselor Deborah Smith told Forbes that the best thing for addicts to do is to avoid the nonstop media coverage about the Powerball. They may have to go to such extremes such as avoiding the TV, the Internet, and the radio.
“When it comes to addiction, the only thing that is actually successful is total abstinence. So if you have a gambler who is working on his recovery, and every time he steps out his door, turns on the radio, turns on the TV, you have these signs advertising the big lottery, it affects his mind.”
If you intend to buy a Powerball ticket tonight, make sure that you just do it for the fun of it and not for the rush of winning or escaping your problems. Don’t get too disappointed or sink into depression if you don’t win, and don’t spend more money than you have just to become a billionaire overnight.
But your likelihood of winning the $1.5 billion jackpot is small. The current odds for Wednesday’s drawing are one in 292 million Americans. If you find that you’ve become obsessed with the lottery, or if you’re using it to avoid depression and anxiety, then you should seek help with a certified gambling specialist.
Remember: Gambling cannot replace whatever stresses or anxieties that you have in your life. Visit the helpguide.org if you or someone you know has a gambling problem.
The record $1.5 billion jackpot is the results of 19 consecutive drawings without an announced winner. The drawing takes place tonight before 10 p.m. EST.
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