All Topics

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

  • Jun 26, 2017
Sharing Stories of Hope and Recovery

When people share their stories of coping with mental illness or substance use disorder, it can provide inspiration and hope and be a welcome reminder that you are not alone in your challenges.

  • Jun 22, 2017
Building Resilient Communities: Embracing Trauma-Informed Care

While many people are very resilient, people can experience difficulties in response to trauma, including nightmares, flashbacks, problems focusing, depression or anxiety. Trauma exposure can also result in physical health challenges such as sleep difficulties, headaches, stomachaches and fatigue. Children, teenagers, and young adults can be more vulnerable to the effects of trauma.

  • Jun 21, 2017
Relax, Take a Deep Breath

Most of us have probably heard, or made the suggestion to someone, to “relax, take a deep breath” as a way to help calm down and reduce stress or anxiety. Breathing techniques have long been used as part of traditional stress reduction practices and their use is supported by much research. Practices involving consciously controlling and focusing on your breathing can be powerful tools for relaxation, stress reduction and mental health.

Upcoming Events
Jun
2017
01
Gamblers Anonymous
  • Thur,  Jun  01 - Fri,  Jun  30

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

Jun
2017
01
Gam-Anon
  • Thur,  Jun  01 - Fri,  Jun  30

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

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

Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Editor's Choice

MAY 8, 2017

A 'young disorder': Fighting compulsive gambling among women

Las Vegas Sun

Hard numbers are difficult to find, but Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said gambling addiction among older women near or in retirement appears to be increasing in scope and severity, with a devastating impact on personal finances.

MAY 1, 2017

Ohio sees uptick in people treated or diagnosed for gambling addiction

Dayton Daily News

People treated or diagnosed for a gambling disorder in Ohio has increased by more than 11 percent since 2014, according to state reports. The increase is almost certainly related to the spread of casino gambling in Ohio since the state’s first casino opened in 2012, state officials said. But, the bump is also likely caused by a wider availability of treatment.

APRIL 28, 2017

The Army's Dark Relationship With Problem Gambling

Casino.Org News (blog)

Life in the army can be a physical and psychological rollercoaster. Soldiers are forced to mix intensely harrowing experiences out in the field with hours of monotonous boredom while they wait on standby. It goes without saying that army recruits need recreational activities to pass the time away during those mundane spells of waiting. That’s where gambling often comes in. In fact, the armed forces and gambling have a surprisingly dark relationship with each other.