AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - The highest Powerball jackpot in history is a hot topic across the country as people line up to buy their tickets and plan their billion dollar futures. It's fun to ask your friends, "what would you do if you won the lottery?" But there is one group of people who may be hurting from the constant media attention surrounding the jackpot: gambling addicts.
"In some way or another this media attention to the Powerball thing is prompting all of them," said Louva Hunt, a certified addiction counselor. "It would be very difficult to be in the presence of it or even the publicity of it. Any of that would be a trigger."
Hunt said an addiction to gambling is just as crippling as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
"Signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction are [similar to other substance addictions]," said Hunt. "You could not tell at the nurse's station the difference in the vital signs of an individual with an alcoholic withdrawal or withdrawal from cocaine or withdrawal from gambling.
Hunt says the people she works with will crash like any other addict, and have huge financial burdens.
She said many addicts need to be assessed for depression and thoughts of suicide, and the constant talk and media attention brought to the Powerball could worsen or renew gambling habits.
Hunt suggested some signs to look for in someone who may have a gambling problem:
- If they tried to stop gambling but could not do it
- If they risk more money than intended
- If finances are becoming a problem
- If negative life consequences stem from gambling