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Big Lottery Jackpots Can Cause Gambling Addicts To Relapse

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Locals line up to purchase lottery tickets in Philadelphia. (file photo)

Locals line up to purchase lottery tickets in Philadelphia. (file photo)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s another big Powerball drawing Wednesday, and addiction experts predict some problem gamblers who are trying to kick the habit will fall off the wagon because of all the attention large jackpots get.

Dave S. of Gamblers Anonymous says this is a bit of a crisis time for problem gamblers.

“The craziness comes out when the jackpot gets bigger,” he said. “I’ve known people in my career in recovery who have relapsed just because of the lottery.”

Dave was not a lottery player but says many people join the group because they are and they are acutely attuned to jackpot size and growth.

“Everything about it is in the media, you really can’t get away from it. The stories are sort of self-perpetuating. The lottery gets bigger.”

Gamblers Anonymous counsels members to avoid temptation but Dave says that’s difficult when lottery tickets are as ubiquitous as stories about jackpots.

“Next thing you know, you buy a lottery ticket at the food store, you relapse, lack of self-esteem, you have to change your date of abstinence,” he said. “The snowball is rolling down the hill.”

Dave reminds problem lottery players the odds of winning are very small and the jackpots, after taxes, are not as large as advertised.

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