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Number of teens struggling with gambling addiction rise

Within the last few years, younger and younger teens have been reported to have gambling addictions.

CROMWELL, Conn. — Story by Kasey Schultz

Gambling activates the brain's reward system in almost the same way drugs do. That's why it's so easy for teens to become addicted. 

Katie Kirch, a Clinical Supervisor for the Bettor Choice program at the Wheeler Clinic, stresses the importance of when talking about drugs and alcohol also include the word gambling. 

Within the last few years, younger and younger teens have been reported to have gambling addictions.

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 Kirch said that younger and younger demographic of people are calling the Connecticut helpline for support.

 A concerned parent and teacher, Andrea Rodrigue, notices that kids are gambling indirectly starting at such a young age.  Whether it's taking part in raffles, trading cards with bonus packs, or Super Bowl Pools kids are being drawn in. 

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"It makes me more entertained in the game," said a high school senior when talking about the adrenaline rush in gambling. 

Kirch also stresses that due to gambling addictions, people lose a lot, they lose time from work, and time from friends. 

"It's not about spending huge amounts of money but winning a little bit of cash here and there doesn't really hurt," said the high school senior.   

The app store makes gambling so easy. All you have to do is look up gambling and hundreds of free apps come up. 

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 In November, Connecticut legalized online gambling so it's easy for a kid to pick up a phone, download an app, and put in some incorrect information,  Rodrigue observes. 

This is not a risk-free activity, any one of us is vulnerable to it. While it may be fun, it can easily turn into an addiction. Just like teens should say no to drugs and alcohol they should say no to underage gambling too.

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