All Topics

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 14, 2018
Poverty and Other Life Circumstances Can Harm Mental Health: Addressing the Social Determinants of Mental Health

The conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age are collectively referred to as social determinants of mental health. They include education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, social support networks, socioeconomic status and access to health care. These circumstances often create a cycle where poverty contributes to mental health issues which in turn lead to further poverty.

  • Jun 12, 2018
Increase in Suicides Highlights Need for Comprehensive Prevention Efforts

Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in the U.S. in 2016, and the suicide rate continues to rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In more than half the states, suicide rates have increased more than 30 percent since 1999, and the overall U.S. rate of suicide has increased every year since 2006.

  • Jun 07, 2018
Teens are Divided on the Impact of Social Media

Social media plays a big part in the lives of most teens, and that influence has the potential to be positive or negative. For example, some research has linked prolonged social media use with symptoms of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Social media may lessen face-to-face relationships or participation in meaningful activities or harm self-esteem. Other research, however, suggests social media may have a positive impact, for example through increased social support

Upcoming Events
May
2018
01
Gamblers Anonymous
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

May
2018
01
Gam-Anon
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Find a meeting near you. For individuals and families.

Mar
2019
01
National Problem Gambling Awareness Month
  • Fri,  Mar  01 - Sun,  Mar  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

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

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 10, 2018

Problem Gambling Among Older Adults

Next Avenue

The vast majority of older adults who gamble do so with no negative consequences, said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. But gambling addiction presents particular risks to this age group, and it can be difficult for older adults to view the problem for what it is, he said. “They have the lowest rates of seeing gambling as a treatable disorder and the highest rates of viewing it as immoral or bad behavior,” noted Whyte.

APR 26, 2018

Here's How Each State Ranks For Gambling Addiction

Patch.com

The personal finance website WalletHub released a new report Tuesday ranking the most gambling-addicted states. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nevada — home to Las Vegas, the famed "Sin City" — topped the list. WalletHub ranked each state based on what it calls "gambling-friendliness" and "gambling problem and treatment."

APR 25, 2018

A troubling relationship between the rise in online betting and growth in mobile money

The New York Times

The growth in mobile money services has created new opportunities for merchants to sell their products and services. One of these is the fast-growing sports betting sector which has taken a number of African countries by storm. Consumers now have easy access to online sports betting services even in remote areas.