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Mar 15, 2019
by: Carrie Larsen
Problem Gambling: You Could be Playing with Your Life


Andrea McGovern lost her son Mike at the age of 28 to suicide around five years ago. Chronic pain and low self-esteem turned him to gambling, which quickly became a problem. Andrea believes it was her son's gambling addiction that directly lead to his suicide.

“We had a great family and he was a great guy. Everything in life is different since then,” said Andrea.

She says Mike began having problems after he was involved in an accident.

 “Michael hurt his back very severely at about age 25. It totally changed his life. He was left with chronic pain after several operations. He gained a lot of weight from the medications. He had some long periods of unemployment and all of that did a lot to Michael’s self-esteem,” she said.

Andrea believes all of these factors directly led to her son’s gambling addiction, and ultimately, his suicide.

“Gambling got a hold of him and things just fell apart for him at that point. I remember thinking when it first happened, he was lying in his bed when we came to visit him at his house and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to leave him here alone.’”

Recovery Resources Gambling Services Coordinator Michael Buzzelli says a problem gambling disorder can lead to many negative outcomes, including suicide.

“Gambling disorder has the highest suicide rate of any addiction. One in five or 20%. Often times a community sees gambling as a fun activity that everybody does. It’s normal and the only consequence may be losing a few bucks here or there, but really, it can be much more serious than that,” said Mike.

If you or someone you know is experiencing problem gambling, there are resources that can help.

“There’s plenty of resources for loved ones. Things like Gam-Anon. There’s also treatment at Recovery Resources that is free of charge for not only the assessment, but then individual therapy. What is great is that we also offer family therapy free of charge,” said Mike.

Find even more information about treatment opportunities at recres.org/GamblingAddiction.

Andrea is now part of the Cuyahoga Problem Gambling Coalition, and is working hard to end problem gambling in our community.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to realize this can happen to anyone, and not to think it’s somebody else’s problem. It is an addiction just like any other addiction. The stakes are too big. It could be your life that you’re playing with,” said Andrea.

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