Diaper wearing adults may be the year’s most obvious warning signs of deep-seated personal problems. First we saw diaper wearing on the part of Lisa Marie Nowak. It was difficult for an amazed public not to get caught up in the humor provoked by the absurdity of the situation, but those of us who work with troubled people saw the raw and painful reality of a troubled employee.
We thought that would likely be the year’s only story involving diapers and troubled people, but thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we once again find diapers and problems converging. This time, diaper-wearing is an indicator of gambling problems.
The story came to light when Professor Tim Pelton of the University of Victoria’s Centres for Addiction Research was conducting a study with casino staff to assess the extent of the youth gambling problem. In the course of this research, a troubling theme emerged:

The survey of casino workers found many workers polled said they regularly see problem gambling up close, including people wearing diapers so they don’t have to leave the machines to use the washroom.

Could this be true? Apparently at least one company is marketing an Adult Incontinence Reusable Cloth Diaper (warning: photos of adults in diapers) as being “perfect for … Gamblers all night in the casino.”
This marketing ploy troubles Professor Pelton, and we are with him on that one. In our experience, gambling is right up there with any of the other highly damaging addictions that we see, causing untold harm to the addict and the addict’s family and close friends. Yet compulsive or pathological gambling (and we would lump diaper-wearing gamblers in that category) is often called “the hidden addiction.”
The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery offers excellent information and resources on gambling addiction, including a list of warning signs to help identify problem gambling in the workplace:

  • Excessive use of telephones (to call bookmakers, stockbrokers or to obtain credit)
  • Taking the company vehicle to the race track, card room, casino, etc. (parking tickets near gambling locations are a “red flag”)
  • Absences from work, often for part of the day (typically after lunch)
  • Arriving late for work (related to all-night card games, casino trips, anxiety-related sleep disturbances)
  • Vacation days taken on isolated days rather than in weeks (or vacations taken to gambling locations on a regular basis)
  • Sick days taken immediately or ahead of time
  • Failure to take days off (obsessed with getting money to pay gambling debts or afraid to take a day off because of a fear that embezzlement or fraud will be discovered in their absence)
  • Changes in productivity (which seem to be related to mood swings)
  • Organizing office pools and gambling junkets
  • Borrowing money from co-workers or arguing with co-workers over failure to pay debts
  • Embezzlement, defrauding customers or engaging in employee theft for resale

As with any other addiction, HR managers and supervisors don’t have to diagnose or treat the problems, merely to be aware of early problem indicators as evidenced by performance and behaviors. Suspected addictions should be referred to EAPs or other qualified help resources.
Additional resources:
National Council on Problem Gambling
Gambler’s Anonymous
Wikipedia on Problem Gambling


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