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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
Aug
2017
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Gamblers Anonymous
  • Wed,  Aug  16 - Thur,  Aug  31

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

Aug
2017
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Gam-Anon
  • Wed,  Aug  16 - Thur,  Aug  31

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

Oct
2017
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Mental Illness Awareness Week
  • Sun,  Oct  01 - Sat,  Oct  07

National Alliance on Mental Illness

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

AUG 8, 2017

Men with Gambling Addiction Likely to Have History of Trauma

GoodTherapy.org

Men with problematic gambling habits are more likely to have witnessed violence or experienced childhood trauma, according to a study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

According to 2014 data from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Center, gambling addiction is one of the most common behavioral addictions, with 2.2% of adults experiencing a gambling addiction each year.

AUG 6, 2017

Beating The Odds: Free program available to help those with gambling addiction

The American Press

For over 15 years, a program at McNeese State University has provided free treatment for problem gamblers. The program works to combat the stigma attached to problem. It offers screening and assessment services, individual and group-based treatment services, along with family-based services depending on client need.

AUG 1, 2017

Gaming Association offers available tools for problem gamblers

NJTV News

It’s stories like these that inspired the conversation at Stockton University. The American Gaming Association and casino industry executives came together to introduce a new code of conduct. Essentially, it’s a way to promote responsible gambling, something they want to put into play in New Jersey. One step already being taken is the exclusion list; a way individuals can block themselves from playing.