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Get Help With Gambling Disorder

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Gambling disorder involves repeated problematic gambling behavior that causes significant problems or distress. It is also called gambling addiction or compulsive gambling.

For some people gambling becomes an addiction – the effects they get from gambling are similar to effects someone with alcoholism gets from alcohol. They can crave gambling the way someone craves alcohol or other substances. Compulsive gambling can lead to problems with finances, relationships and work, not to mention potential legal issues.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

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Upcoming Events
Oct
2017
13
Gamblers Anonymous
  • Fri,  Oct  13 - Tue,  Oct  31

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

Oct
2017
13
Gam-Anon
  • Fri,  Oct  13 - Tue,  Oct  31

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

Mar
2018
01
National Problem Gambling Awareness Month
  • Thur,  Mar  01 - Sat,  Mar  31

National Council on Problem Gambling

A couple of friends and family members have told me they are concerned about my gambling, but I don’t think I have a problem, I just gamble for fun. How can I tell if I have a problem?

Gambling is a common, legal form of entertainment and recreation that is enjoyed by millions of people every day. The vast majority of people who gamble are able to do so without any long-lasting problems or harm. But, like alcohol, tobacco or drugs of abuse, gambling can become an addiction, and recent research has shown that up to 1 percent of the population is currently suffering from a gambling disorder. There are many different warning signs that gambling is becoming a problem. Among the most common signs are lying about gambling, not being able to stop or control gambling, spending excessive amounts of time gambling and being preoccupied by gambling.

Any gambling behavior that creates harm, distress and negative life problems could be a sign of a gambling disorder. Two simple questions to ask are: “Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled?” and “Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?” A yes answer to either question suggests that there may be a gambling problem. Read More

My friend is a frequent gambler and has repeatedly asked me for money. Should I help him out so he doesn’t get in legal trouble, or is that just contributing to the problem and allowing him to avoid getting help?

Borrowing money to relieve desperate financial problems caused by gambling is one of the diagnostic criteria of gambling disorder. Giving money to friends, even with the hope that it will help, often backfires and creates more problems and stress. A healthier way to help out a friend who is asking for money is to share your concern about borrowing money. Friends will appreciate sincere honesty, an expression of concern and an offer to help out emotionally. Maintaining a firm financial boundary of not giving money to a friend “in need” will help to motivate them to seek professional help or help them to see how serious their problem may be. Read More

I believe my husband has a gambling problem; would Gamblers Anonymous be a good place to suggest he start to get help?

Gambler’s Anonymous (GA) is a self-help group, based in the principles of 12-step recovery. It is available both for people with gambling disorders and for family members (Gam-Anon). This is an excellent place to start to seek immediate assistance with support, education and learning about the recovery process. GA is not a substitute for professional treatment and anyone with a gambling disorder or affected by someone’s gambling should seek professional help. Many states have problem gambling helplines that can provide referrals to professional treatment providers. The national problem gambling helpline is 1-800-522-4700. For states that do not have gambling treatment services, a good starting place would be to seek help from any locally trained addiction treatment program or specialist. Read More

expert-fong

About the Expert:

Timothy Fong, M.D.
Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA
Co-director, UCLA Gambling Studies Program

Mitchell's Story

35-yo-Male.jpg

Mitchell is a 43-year-old married man with two children, ages 12 and 9. He enjoyed gambling during high school and college, mainly with friends on occasional trips to Las Vegas or home poker games. In 2010, after securing a new job, he and his family moved to the West Coast. As part of this move, he relocated to a new home that was about 25 minutes from a casino. In 2012, his company downsized and he lost his job, which was shocking to him but not devastating. His wife went back to work and he became a stay-at-home dad. Read More

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Editor's Choice

OCT 18, 2017

Survey: Problem Gamblers in Ohio Doubled After Casinos

U.S. News & World Report

The percentage of Ohioans deemed problem gamblers has doubled since the implementation of racinos and casinos five years ago, according to a survey released Wednesday whose results state leaders say they expected. The Ohio Gambling Survey said 0.9 percent of residents or about 76,400 people are problem gamblers, up from 0.4 percent or about 46,200 in 2012. Overall, about one in 10 Ohioans is considered an at-risk gambler.

OCT 15, 2017

‘There will be negative press but this is not a PR campaign' John Cobb speaks to the chairman of the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling

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With the topic of problem gambling rarely out of the headlines one might have thought the last thing the betting industry would want is to raise the subject themselves. Yet that is what has been happening during Responsible Gambling Week, which continues until Wednesday.

OCT 13, 2017

Gambling addiction: Enter the ‘zone’ where winning is a distraction

ABC.net.au

The anticipatory pleasure pathway cab go into overdrive when we gamble. It can lead us to a place that addicts call "the zone", where even winning the jackpot is a distraction from the game. Dr. Charles Livingstone, a gambling researcher from Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, says the brain's method of producing these rewards has a lot to do with two well-known forms of psychological conditioning.