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Helping A Colleague

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month (PGAM).  For this year’s PGAM, we’re asking all professionals to be a resource and pay attention to the signs of problem gambling in colleagues.  It’s important to be a resource for those struggling with problem gambling.  As a resource, you could save someone’s life.  To be a resource, it’s best to be aware of the warning signs and available help for problem gambling.

Identifying The Problem

Identifying that a colleague may be struggling with their gambling can be difficult.  This is especially true because, as colleagues, you may not be around one another all day.  You may only see one another from time to time, or sporadically throughout the day.  You can still be a resource.  Even seeing colleagues sporadically can offer enough time to identify some warning signs of problem gambling.

The most important thing is caring for one another.  If you care for the wellbeing of a colleague, you’re more likely to notice signs simply because you’re paying more attention to them.  This doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely see the signs.  It doesn’t mean that if you miss the signs you don’t care about your colleagues.  It simply means that the more effort we put in to care about one another, the more likely we are to notice the signs of problem gambling. 

Seeing The Signs

The signs of any problem can be very subtle.  This is especially true for problem gambling, which is why it’s often spoken about as the hidden addiction.  Other addictions may be more obvious.  A substance use disorder, such as alcohol abuse, can offer outward physical signs of a problem.  Problem gambling can be kept hidden for a long time since the signs are harder to see.  Some signs to look out for include:

  • Deterioration of work performance;
  • Frequent, unexplained absences from work;
  • Preoccupation with gambling opportunities in the workplace, such as sports pools, betting opportunities, etc.;
  • Frequently borrowing money from coworkers, or arguing with coworkers about financial issues;
  • Requests for pay in advance, or cashing in retirement or vacation time;
  • Mood swings or a change in personality; and
  • Verbalizing the negative effects of gambling on one’s life.

One of these warning signs may not be an obvious sign of problem gambling, but paying attention for additional signs can help put the story together. 

Finding Help

If you think a colleague is struggling with their gambling problem, or any other problem, let your supervisor know.  There are services in each work place that people can reach out to for help.  Many locations have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) worker who can offer support and guidance to resources for help, such as your local Problem Gambling Resource Center.  

As a resource to a colleague, you will be a part of a very important network of people who may be able to help.  Helping someone struggling with a gambling problem can be life changing for the person struggling.  For Problem Gambling Awareness Month, let’s all do our part to pay attention to our colleagues and find help for those who may be struggling.

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