By Kent MacDonald
NEW GLASGOW, N.S. – Gambling is something that entices people as a sort of forbidden fruit from the outside looking in.
But if only people would take a step back and realize that gambling is a losing game designed to bankrupt you of, not just your money, but also the people most important to you.
Julie H. of Gamblers Anonymous knows how much of an impact that gambling can have on people and their families in Pictou County.
“Two people committed suicide in December over gambling,” said Julie.
When asked about the impact that it can have on families, she said, “It’s a financial and time problem – people spend money and time away from their families that they rarely ever get back.”
For some people, they don't realize until it’s too late. To attack the root of the problem, you must distinguish what types of gambling people are becoming addicted to.
“The VLTs, or slot machines, are the biggest problem around Pictou County because we don’t have casinos.”
Julie also brings to attention to the fact that government is allowing even more machines.
She claims one local establishment went from 15 to 25 machines.
For someone who is help, Gamblers Anonymous meetings are held every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity United Church in New Glasgow.
“It’s like a safe haven for gamblers,” she said.
Those who usually attend the support group are mostly people in their 30s, 40s and 50s and even some in their 70s.
“(It) usually starts off with some sort of family history,” said Julie, when asked about how people fall into addiction. “Your mind changes – the serotonin in your brain can lead to these sort of compulsive addictive behaviours.”
She says gambling is usually mixed with people who take drugs or alcoholics.
“When somebody has all three addictions (drugs, alcohol, and gambling) we call that a cocktail.”