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Gambling Addictions Among Asian American Communities

Gambling comes in many forms. Maybe you enjoy making a casual bets with friends on the outcome of sports events. Maybe you play online poker. Others might head to a casino in Las Vegas. Like many other pleasurable activities, gambling can become addictive. Someone addicted to gambling may find themselves compelled to make bets or play a specific game. Over time, the amount of money they feel the need to gamble with may increase, despite any problems it could be causing.

Gambling addiction can affect anyone. Research indicates that about 1% of adults in the United States struggle with compulsive gambling. Gambling addiction has also been identified as a challenge in specific populations, including the Asian American community. Take a look at how gambling addiction affects Asian Americans and learn how to get help.

The Emerging Issue of Gambling Addiction in Asian American Communities

The exact number of Asian Americans impacted by gambling addiction is unknown, but it is a documented challenge. A study from the University of Massachusetts in Boston explored the gambling practices of people living and working in Boston’s Chinatown. Some of the Asian Americans at the highest risk for gambling addiction include low-income workers and immigrants. According to researchers, Asian immigrants who experienced the trauma of war in their home countries and lived as refugees may turn to gambling to help cope with their experiences.

Casinos are also known to market specifically to Chinese immigrants and other members of the Asian American community. The study conducted in Boston found that casino locations and transportation options made it easier for members of low-income immigrant communities to access gambling opportunities. Some casinos even offer free bus rides to frequent gamblers, making gambling even more accessible. Gambling can provide an exciting distraction and offer a sense of community for people who have little income and few entertainment options outside of work.

A lack of appropriate treatment compounds the prevalence of Asian American gambling. Those most at risk for gambling addiction are often unable to find culturally sensitive treatment and may face a language barrier in many cases. Additionally, it can be difficult for people in the Asian American community to speak out when they recognize gambling has become a problem. Privacy and fear of shame may keep them silent.

The Tradition of Gambling In Asian American Communities

Cultural factors can also influence gambling addiction. The Asian American community is not one homogenous group. Individuals from China, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines and Cambodia are part of this larger group. In some Asian cultures, gambling is a common social practice. Gambling is especially common in Chinese culture.

Lunar New Year is associated with a rise in gambling in the Asian American community. Certain cultural beliefs, specifically those around the ideas of luck and fortune, may also encourage gambling.

Signs That Gambling Is Becoming Problem Gambling

How do you know when gambling has evolved from a fun hobby into an addiction? Here are a few telltale warning signs:

  • Continuously raising the stakes: Over time, you may find you need to gamble more money and more to capture the same thrill you got earlier in your gambling experience. Someone addicted to gambling might spend a lot of their time planning when they will next gamble and figuring out how to get enough money to do so.
  • Using gambling as a coping mechanism: Some people use potentially addictive substances, such as alcohol and activities like gambling, as a coping mechanism. You might gamble to distract yourself from unpleasant feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger or boredom.
  • Lying about your gambling habits: Compulsive gambling can quickly affect your personal and professional life. You might lie to a partner or spouse about where your money is going, or you might lie to your employer about why you missed work, claiming to be sick when you were actually out gambling.
  • Experiencing negative financial consequences: A gambling addiction can seriously impact your finances. When you feel compelled to gamble, you might lose more than you win. Many people who are addicted to gambling will spend more money chasing those losses and trying to score another big win to cover their gambling debts. When you have a problem with gambling, you may try to ask your friends or family for money.
  • Inability to quit gambling: Like any addiction, quitting gambling can be incredibly difficult. If you notice how gambling is affecting your finances and relationships and still struggle to quit, you may have an addiction.

What to Do If You or Someone You Care About Needs Help

If you realize that you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction, take these steps to get them the help they need:

  • Ask for help: The first step toward recovery is asking for help. This can be the most challenging part of the process. If your loved ones have raised concerns about your gambling, listen to them. Tell them you are receptive to their concern and want to get help. If you concerned about a loved one, tell them you are there for them and ask them how you can help.
  • Discuss your treatment options: Some people can break the cycle of addiction gambling on their own. Many people may need professional help. Consider seeking professional addiction treatment. Addiction treatment for gambling can combine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication and group counseling.
  • Change your behavior: Recovery from addiction extends beyond working with a professional team. You can also explore new hobbies and spend time with your loved ones outside of formal treatment, devoting your energy to healthy activities instead of gambling.

CBT can help you recognize destructive behavior and patterns and change the way you think and react, creating healthier behaviors to help you leave gambling behind. Medication can be a helpful tool for treating co-occurring conditions like anxiety or depression. Group counseling helps you to build a support system with people who have similar experiences.

Getting Help for Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is very real, and it is possible to get help. Recovering from a gambling addiction can improve your personal relationships and your financial situation.

Once you recognize that you or a loved one needs help, turn to professionals you can trust. Gateway Foundation offers treatment specifically for people with gambling addictions. Our team of professionals can help you address your addiction and regain control of your life. We can help you develop your path for long-term recovery. Start your recovery journey today by reaching out to us online.

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