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Best Resources for Gambling Addicts

By Lu Ann Wall
Published on April 21, 2018
Support for Problem Gambling

It doesn’t matter if you gamble once a year and then torture yourself for months about money and time you’ve lost, or if you enter a casino or pull up a gambling website daily throwing away your rent, your car payment and missing out on life.

If any amount of betting is causing you personal or physical pain or is in any way detrimental to your life, then you could benefit from some outside assistance.

Asking for help may immediately cause you stress and anxiety as you’re envisioning group therapy or being sequestered in a treatment center. In some cases, those may be the remedies that are recommended, but there are plenty of other resources for you that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This article will cover a wide variety of support methods. Some will involve outside agencies, but others are tools that you can use anytime you need them.

Problem Gambling vs Pathological Gambling

The distinguishes between the terms problem gambling and pathological gambling.

While problem gambling is still an issue causing difficulties for anyone who experiences it, pathological gambling is considered to be a disorder at the most severe level.

A gambling disorder results from repeated patterns of problem gambling and can be officially diagnosed if you have at least four of the following criteria as outlined by the .

  • Frequent thoughts about gambling
  • Lying to conceal your participation
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop or limit any gambling activity
  • A pattern of unsuccessful attempts to cut back or stop
  • Experiencing stress or problems often triggers a gambling outing
  • Habits of chasing losses to try to get even
  • Needing to gamble at higher stakes to feel excited or satisfied
  • Risking or losing a relationship, job or significant opportunity due to gambling
  • Relying on others to bail you out of money issues resulting from gambling losses

Even if you don’t have four of these symptoms, if you have even one and it’s causing you distress in any way, it may be time to walk away or get some support.

Tip:

If you want an even more comprehensive test that covers 20 questions, you can do a self-assessment on http://bettorsanonymous.org/questions.

How Problem Gambling Affects You

You don’t want to let gambling get the best of you or hurt you in any way. If you have intense feelings of shame or regret or you’ve put yourself in a temporary financial bind, that’s enough to warrant a change.

On the severe end of things, a gambling disorder can affect your health, both physically and mentally.

It can result in unemployment and the loss of a home or possessions. Depression and anti-social behaviors are both common, as are poor parenting and failed relationships.

Whether it’s a minor inconvenience that can’t be controlled or a significant detriment in life, you need to decide when it’s time to reach out for help.

How Problem Gambling Can Affect Others

Maybe you’re not concerned with how things are playing out for you, but what about how it’s affecting your loved ones?

Just like alcoholism, gambling problems can touch your family and friends. They may be bailing you out financially or picking up the slack with your child care needs. If you end up unemployed, they may be taking you in for a while.

Of course, that’s on the severe end of things. Even the occasional, but consistent problem can cause relationship problems. Maybe you’re cancelling plans far too many times or ignoring phone calls and texts.

What happens when they need you? Are you there?

Help Is Available

Before we get into a list of outside agencies, meetings, phone assistance, etc., let’s go right to the resources through casinos and betting agencies – those being the casinos and gambling providers.

Setting Limits and Self-Exclusion

One of the most immediate and most natural tools you have in your arsenal when it comes to getting your gambling under control is setting limits or self-excluding from your casino or betting shop, whether in person or online.

These options are most useful for online bettors, as everything is monitored and tracked electronically.

You have to log in to your account and make yourself known, so that limiting your account is a straightforward process.

Setting Limits

When you register, or any time after that, you can set up deposit limits. If you set something within your budget and you run out of funds, you will not be able to transfer anything else in for a specified period.

Setting a financial limit is one of the first steps that most people take if they’re starting to feel like there’s a problem. They want to be proactive and not get in over their heads by spending too much.

All websites should offer this option, and if you come across one that doesn’t, by all means, take your business elsewhere.

Self-Exclusion

To take it a step further, you would self-exclude yourself from the service altogether. Self-exclusion can be an intimidating step, and you may be hesitant because it’s saying that you cannot log in and use the site at all for a specified period.

It’s usually a minimum of six months and can go up to a few years. This includes all of the sister sites under the same ownership.

Now, you may immediately be thinking that you can just go to another site, but since you’re trying to avoid that it’s best for you to self-exclude on any sites that you use.

Gamcare, a British-based agency that’s proactive in preventing problem gambling, offers several options with resources so players can self exclude from online and brick and mortars—just with one or across the board.

The UK Remote Gaming Association has put together a brand new program called GAMSTOP, which is a National online self-exclusion program. It networks all of the licensed operators that service residents so that one self-exclusion will apply to every website.

It’s the next obvious step, as it has been much too easy for online players to find alternative websites after a single site self-exclusion.

Unfortunately, this online network depends on geography, so if you don’t live in the UK, you are still faced with self-excluding each site one by one.

The Brick and Mortar Dilemma

While it is easier to maintain accountability with online betting, brick and mortar casinos and betting shops also provide a self-exclusion option.

You would have to go in and speak with a casino or bookmaker’s representative, and they’ll have you fill out a form and will take a copy of your photo ID. If the casino is one of several under the same operation, your self-exclusion will apply to all of their venues.

Now, this is obviously a bit more complicated than just not being able to login to a website, but reputable casinos and betting shops will do their best to keep up with their clientele. Remember, casinos always have someone watching.

Online Forums

Having a sounding board and knowing you’re not alone is a big step to help you get any compulsive behavior under control. Just as the Internet has made it so easy for everyone to place bets, it also provides some valuable resources for support.

An online forum or support group provides you some anonymity, but puts you in a virtual circle of others who knows exactly what you’re going through, as they are going through the same thing as well.

The following are just a few of the more prominent forums that you can participate in by posting or responding to posts. There’s give and take to forums and traditional support groups that are beneficial to your goal. When you’re working to combat excessive gambling, it can be advantageous to you to assist someone else.

Online Gambling Support Forums and Chat Rooms

  • Recovery.org
  • Psychforums.com
  • Gamcare.org.uk (United Kingdom)
  • Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (Canada)
  • Gamblinghelponline.org (Australia)
  • Gamblingstories.com
  • Gamtalk.org
  • Smart Recovery
  • Daily Strength
  • Gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au (Australia)

Helplines

Although sometimes it may seem like it, phone calls haven’t gone away entirely. Several 24-hour a day helplines will connect you one on one with a real live person (believe it or not).

You’ll be able to explain your situation and be guided by a phone counselor to other resources that are best for your particular situation and location.

Location Name Phone Number/Website
US National Problem Gaming Helpline 1-800-522-4700
UK GamCare 0808 8020 133
Canada British Columbia Responsible & Problem Gambling Program 888-795-6111
Nova Scotia, Canada Gambling Support Network 1-888-347-8888
Australia Gamblers Anonymous 1800 858 858
Ireland Gamblers Anonymous 01 8721133
Germany Gluecksspielsucht Problem Gambling 0800 0776611
New Zealand Gambling Helpline 0800 654 655
Singapore National Council on Problem Gambling 800 6 66866
US State by State hotlines www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/hotlines
(provided by Gamblers Anonymous)

Support Groups

Whether you have an alcohol addiction, gambling problem or other problem behavior, support groups are available and are structured similarly. You are sharing with people who have a similar problem.

It’s not as intimidating or embarrassing because it’s entirely different than reaching out to family and friends who aren’t going through the same thing. They may be sympathetic, but don’t know what it’s like to walk in your shoes.

A group setting gives you the opportunity to share your situation and your progress as well as listen to others and the difficulties that they’re experiencing.

Group therapy can be paid through treatment centers, psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists. You’ll find that organizations like Gamblers Anonymous will also provide free meetings on a regular basis.

A group setting can offer more accountability if you commit yourself to regular attendance.

As there are so many different groups, you’ll want to do a location-specific search to find the one that’s convenient for you. The following are a few resources that you may find helpful. As you’ll see, they are all offered through Gamblers Anonymous, so you can start your search with G.A. to find a meetings list in your area.

Location Name Site
US Gamblers Anonymous www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/locations
(input your U.S. location for a list)
UK Gamblers Anonymous www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk/index.php/meetings (offers a geo-locator or search by location)
Alaska and British Columbia Gamblers Anonymous www.gabc.ca/meetings
Toronto Gamblers Anonymous www.gamblersanonymoustoronto.org/cgi/meetings.pl
Australia Gamblers Anonymous gaaustralia.org.au/meetings

Treatment Centers

When you have a severe problem that can’t be helped by self-exclusion or meetings, it may be time to get some around the clock assistance. After all, if you were suffering from a severe physical ailment, hospitalization would be required.

A severe gambling addiction warrants a more advanced plan of action, and that could involve hospitalization or a rigid schedule of therapy.

As this is a blog posting and not a full novel, it’s impossible to list out all of your options, but a quick Google search of gambling treatment centers in your location will surely do the trick.

and resources for finding a treatment center in the U.S.

In the UK, the is well known for its treatment facilities and caters explicitly to anyone on the severe end of the addiction spectrum.

In Australia, the for drug, alcohol and gambling addictions.

Australia also offers a vast number of private clinics and hospitals that specialize in behavioral compulsion and addiction. Australia has the biggest gambling population in the world, so it would go without saying that it also has more problem gamblers than anywhere else.

Other Resources and Treatments to Consider

Limiting or restricting your betting and using helplines, chat rooms, groups/meetings and outpatient/inpatient therapy are some of the best ways to get your habit under control. But there are also some other supplemental, alternative programs and tips for you to consider as well.

Their effectiveness, though, depends on the extent of your problem gambling as well as your physical and mental health, spiritual beliefs, financial situation and commitment to turning things around for yourself.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is just one type of therapy that has been proven to be useful in helping to overcome gambling disorders.

In the simplest terms, CBT works with a patient’s fundamental belief system and how it relates to their compulsion. If unresolved issues or irrational self-perception are at the heart of things, gambling is sometimes used to escape from the reality of everyday life and accepting yourself in your own skin.

If you’ve ever spent a few hours at a casino, you know how you can get lost in the game itself. Your thoughts are focused on playing and winning.

It can be refreshing to get away from things that we carry with us during our waking hours. Gambling has the same effect that alcohol can have on a problem drinker. You crave the diversion and want it even more.

CBT can change a person’s entire view of gambling and show them the risks involved in overindulging, so it’s frequently used for addiction treatment.

Mental Health Assessment and Therapy

Gambling could very well be a symptom of a more significant problem. Problem gamblers have been found to have depressive or anxiety disorders or are faced with other mental health-related issues.

If you enter into a regular course of therapy, whether it’s CBT or an alternative method, the goal would be for it to have an all-around positive impact on your life, and that includes your desire to gamble or partake in other habits that can become addictions.

You don’t necessarily have to find a gambling specialist. You could start with an overall assessment and then have a professional work out a treatment plan that suits your needs on the whole.

Habit Replacement

One of the best ways to avoid overindulging in one activity is to replace it with something else. It’s harder to outright quit something you enjoy than it is to devote that time to something else you like.

You could start up a new hobby or go back to one that used to be a fun activity for you. Alternatively, you could create a busier schedule for yourself that doesn’t give you much time for betting. Join some groups, plan outings with family or friends, volunteer, over commit yourself for a while.

Change of Environment

This particular tip was more effective before the Internet brought gambling into your office or living room. It’s hard to stay away from something that’s right in front of you.

However, if you have a gambling problem and you live in the vicinity of a casino, you may want to consider relocating if at all possible.

Why even put yourself in the position of being tempted day after day?

Go easy on yourself and treat yourself with kindness. If that means planning a move, then it’s something you should seriously consider.

Non-Traditional Methods

Hypnosis

Many people have found that hypnosis can be very effective for managing any disorder. I know someone who used it as a tool to quit smoking, and it worked within just a few weeks.

One thing to consider with hypnosis, though, is that you have to “want” to make a change. Hypnosis doesn’t go against your real desire; it helps you to achieve it.

In the instance of smoking, that person indeed aspired to quit. It wasn’t an easy way out. It was a helpful tool to accomplish the goal.

Acupuncture

Chinese medicine succinctly explains acupuncture as a way to balance your yin and yang energies. In the west, that may not make much sense when it comes to addiction, but it can be effective.

The goal of acupuncture is to balance your energy. In the process, it raises your level of endorphins (natural painkillers). During the process, not only can your desire to gamble be lessened, but any physical or mental effect of you not participating in the activity is diminished so it’s not as painful for you.

While you would not call acupuncture a cure, it is another tool to assist you, just like hypnosis.

Some other resources to consider:

  • Yoga
  • Acupressure
  • Reiki
  • Meditation
  • Visualization techniques

Credit Counseling

If your betting has reached the level where your finances have been evidently impacted, you don’t want to wait or hope that it turns around.

Credit counseling can help you to get things back on track by putting you on a budget that you commit to that can help to repair the damage, but also assist you in moving forward.

Unless the money is free flowing for you, a credit counselor’s plan will eliminate most of your discretionary funds so you won’t have the luxury of gambling or betting to excess.

Below are a few credit counseling resources:

Location Name Site
US Financial Counseling Association
of America (FCAA)
fcaa.org
UK Step Change www.stepchange.org
Ireland Step Change www.stepchangedebtcharity.ie
Australia National Debt Helpline www.ndh.org.au
Canada Credit Counselling Canada creditcounsellingcanada.ca

Resources for Family and Friends of Problem Gamblers

If you have someone in your life who is dealing with a gambling problem, especially a severe one that’s affecting relationships, work life and livelihood, it can be as painful for you as it is for them.

You have to decide how many times you’ll bail them out—whether it be financially, with a place to stay or any other number of ways. Sometimes you have to be strong enough to decide that “tough love” is the way to go because it’s not doing them any good to rely on you continuously.

Just as there are resources for the person experiencing the addiction, there are some for you as well. You may have heard of Al-Anon for the family of alcoholics, but there’s also a Gam-Anon for loved ones of gamblers.

Gam-Anon is part of the Gamblers Anonymous agency and has the biggest network, but depending on where you live, you may have other meetings and support groups available to you. They’re typically offered by the same organizations that serve the people who have the gambling issues.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. You’ll find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone, and your experience could help others in the group as well.

Other Online Resources for Problem Gamblers

The following are some websites that have tips and tools that you may find helpful, as well as the information that’s already been provided.

Regardless of what site you visit, what group you join or what method(s) you decide to employ, the bottom line is that you have to take action. Don’t just do nothing and let things continue as they have been.

Have enough love and respect for yourself to reach out for help. There are plenty of resources for you and people out there who can make all the difference in creating a better life for you.

  • Bettorsanonymous.org
  • Smartrecovery.org
  • Debtorsanonymous.org
  • Gam-anon.org
  • Gamcare.co.uk
  • Problemgambling.ca
  • Rehab-international.org
  • Helpguide.org
  • Gamblersanonymous.org
  • gabc.ca (Gamblers Anonymous in Canada)
  • gamblersanonymous.org.uk
  • gaaustralia.org.au (Gamblers Anonymous in Australia)

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Best Resources for Gambling Addicts
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Best Resources for Gambling Addicts
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Here we look at the many global resources for problem gamblers including self-exclusion, support groups, therapy, chat rooms and other alternative methods. Continue reading to get the help you need.
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