Problem gambling–or gambling addiction–includes all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.
Even though gambling is considered as a valid sport, gambling addiction is a serious issue and a psychological disorder affecting 1% of adult population in the United Stats of America. The diagnosis of the condition is based on the symptoms such as a constant preoccupation with gambling, frequent betting of money, feeling of irritability and unrest when attempting to stop and lack of control even when after experiencing serious consequences such as mounting debt, bankruptcy or family disruptions.
People with Gambling Disorders describe similar experiences to those addicted to drugs and alcohol. Therapy is about recognizing the triggers that make the addict want to gamble.
Gambling has also been recognized by churches and religious organizations as a pervasive social problem. In the Bible there are a number of instances where gambling is mentioned as part of the culture. This age-old problem negatively affects lives, relationships, and families with miserable consequences.
The Christian community has role to understand the affect gambling addiction can have on individuals and families, its influence on faith, and available options for recovery.
Even though the problems directly associated with gambling are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, there are clear guiding principles about managing money and wealth.
Christians are instructed to be good stewards of everything given by God including money, talents and time. The scripture that directly admonishes about money says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10).
When gambling becomes a person’s focus, these Biblical principles that teach accountability get ignored. When it becomes an addiction affecting relationship with God and family, it becomes a spiritual issue.
Along with traditional treatment options, such as group or individual counseling, and support groups, it is also helpful to incorporate spiritual elements.
Rebuilding personal relationship with God can be an important step towards addiction recovery. Daily meditations and time in prayer can help to move the person’s focus away from gambling towards God and His grace.
In addition, joining a small prayer or Bible study group in the local church is a great way to connect with spiritually minded group of people and will act as a support mechanism for recovery.
For resources on gambling help and treatment check out: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/faq/