Problem Gambling

What is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling (or ludomania, but usually referred to as “gambling addiction”) is an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling is can be defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behaviour.’, 

As demonstrated by the video below, problem gambling often arises after the initial “hit” of that first big win which may be purely by chance (“beginners’ luck”). The excitement that it can generate / rush of adrenaline leads people to seek that feeling again which, in many cases, results in a financial loss. 

There is now a craving or behaviour to chase losses which may even replace the craving for the initial sensations that drove someone to gamble more. This behaviour then can have harmful consequences as money is needed to feed the “addiction”.

Problem Gambling Addiction

Get practical support with your gambling problem

Gambling Therapy is a global service offering free practical advice and emotional support to anyone affected by problem gambling.

If you answer yes to three or more of these questions and you feel your life is out of control Our Online Therapeutic Services can help you to get your life back on track.

  1. Do you spend too much money and/or time gambling?
  2. Have you gambled away the money needed to pay household bills?
  3. Have you risked or lost a relationship because of your gambling?
  4. Have you risked or lost your home or job because of your gambling?
  5. Do you struggle to sleep because of your problems with gambling?
  6. Do you gamble to try to win back losses?
  7. Do you lie about how much you gamble?

 If you answer yes to three or more of these questions and you feel that you need help please contact live support

Since I’ve stopped gambling, nothing else feels fun?

During early recovery, many people find that what used to bring them excitement or pleasure, no longer does. This is called anhedonia – the reduced ability to experience pleasure. Activities like going out with friends, watching TV, hobbies, eating food, or being with family don’t seem very fun or exciting. Understanding and recognizing anhedonia is very important because high levels of anhedonia are linked to strong gambling urges as well as relapse.

Let’s talk about why anhedonia might occur and what can be done about it.

Changing Setpoints

‘Setpoints’ are your natural mood states that can shift slightly with day-to-day activities. With addiction, though, natural setpoints can change. Setpoints are usually stable but can change because of major or continual stressors. Stressors can include negative events like losing a job, but also new events such as a big gambling win.

The early stages of recovery from problem gambling are associated with anhedonia, which is the reduced ability to experience a pleasure. This is a sensitive time period when an individual may have a very low mood, high gambling urges, and experience little pleasure from natural rewards. The good news is that the brain can also change again during recovery. You may start to enjoy natural rewards again. These improvements take time so it is important to keep practicing hobbies you enjoyed and trying out new activities.

National Council On Problem Gambling

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders definition of gambling addiction

Gamblers Anonymous

There are eight types of groups:

New Members Practical Advice

This group is for people who are new to the site, new to recovery, or both! You will find emotional support and practical tips in this group but most importantly you’ll receive a warm welcome from us.

Drop-in – All Members Welcome

These are one or two-hour groups open to everyone who wants to chat with a member of the Gambling Therapy Team or peers. You can enter at any time whilst the group is running and talk about recovery or other, more general, issues you’re facing as a result of the effects of gambling.

Problem Gamblers Peer Support

These groups will ALWAYS be run by someone who has personal experience of overcoming problem gambling. Problem gamblers can offload in these groups and be as frank as they like knowing the people they are with have been there too. You can access the group at any time whilst it’s running.

Friends & Family Peer Support

These popular groups are ALWAYS run by someone who has personal experience of supporting a problem gambler. If someone you care about is a problem gambler you can offload in these groups and be as honest as you like knowing the people you’re with have been there too. You can access the group at any time whilst it’s running.

Topic Groups

Topic groups are structured discussions around a specific theme advertised in the topic forum beforehand. These are a great way of focussing on specific aspects of recovery and talking them over with people who understand. You will only be able to enter this group for the first fifteen minutes of its run time, it will then close to new entrants to ensure emotional issues can be discussed without interruption.

Ex residents of GMA Outreach

Group The ex-residents outreach group is run by a member of staff from the Gordon Moody Residential Treatment team. This group is for you if you’ve undergone residential treatment in one of the Gordon Moody Residential Treatment Centres to talk about what you’ve learned during your time there and explore any challenges your new life holds. You will only be able to enter this group for the first fifteen minutes of its run time, it will then close to new entrants to ensure emotional issues can be discussed without interruption.

MMOC Male & Female

These groups are private groups only accessible to those who are undergoing the GMA retreat style of program.


Most treatment for problem gambling involves counseling, step-based programs, self-help, peer-support, medication, or a combination of these. However, no one treatment is considered to be most efficacious and, in the United States, no medications have been approved for the treatment of pathological gambling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a commonly used treatment for gambling problems. Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, GA is a twelve-step program that emphasizes a mutual-support approach.

There are three in-patient treatment centers in North America. One form of counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to reduce symptoms and gambling-related urges.

This type of therapy focuses on the identification of gambling-related thought processes, mood, and cognitive distortions that increase one’s vulnerability to out-of-control gambling.

Additionally, CBT approaches frequently utilize skill-building techniques geared toward relapse prevention, assertiveness and gambling refusal, problem-solving, and reinforcement of gambling-inconsistent activities and interests.

As to behavioral treatment, some recent research supports the use of both activity scheduling and desensitization in the treatment of gambling problems. In general, behavior analytic research in this area is growing. There is evidence that SSRI paroxetine is efficacious in the treatment of pathological gambling.

Additionally, for patients suffering from both pathological gambling and a comorbid bipolar spectrum condition, sustained release lithium has shown efficacy in a preliminary trial. The opioid antagonist drug nalmefene has also been trialed quite successfully for the treatment of compulsive gambling.

Group concepts based on CBT, such as the metacognitive training for problem gambling have also proven effective.

Step-based programs

12 Step-based programs such as Gambler’s Anonymous are specific to gambling and generic to healing addiction, creating financial health, and improving mental wellness.

Commercial alternatives that are designed for clinical intervention, using the best of health science and applied education practices, have been used as patient-centered tools for intervention since 2007. They include measured efficacy and resulting recovery metrics.

Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is one of the treatments of compulsive gambling. The motivational interviewer’s basic goal is promoting readiness to change through thinking and resolving mixed feelings. Avoiding aggressive confrontation, argument, labeling, blaming, and direct persuasion, the interviewer supplies empathy and advice to compulsive gamblers who define their own goal. The focus is on promoting freedom of choice and encouraging confidence in the ability to change.

Peer support

A growing method of treatment is peer support. With the advancement of online gambling, many gamblers experiencing issues use various online peer-support groups to aid their recovery. This protects their anonymity while allowing them to attempt recovery on their own, often without having to disclose their issues to loved ones.


Research into self-help for problem gamblers has shown benefits. A study by Wendy Slutske of the University of Missouri concluded one-third of pathological gamblers overcome it by natural recovery.

Anti-addiction drugs


Gambling self-exclusion (voluntary exclusion) programs are available in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, France, and other countries. They seem to help some (but not all) problem gamblers to gamble less often.

Some experts maintain that casinos, in general, arrange for self-exclusion programs as a public relations measure without actually helping many of those with problem gambling issues. A campaign of this type merely “deflects attention away from problematic products and industries”, according to Natasha Dow Schull, a cultural anthropologist at New York University and author of the book Addiction by Design.

There is also a question as to the effectiveness of such programs, which can be difficult to enforce. In the province of Ontario, Canada, for example, the Self-Exclusion program operated by the government’s Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is not effective, according to an investigation conducted by the television series, revealed in late 2017.

|”Gambling addicts … said that while on the … self-exclusion list, they entered OLG properties on a regular basis” in spite of the facial recognition technology in place at the casinos, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. As well, a CBC journalist who tested the system found that he was able to enter Ontario casinos and gamble on four distinct occasions, in spite of having been registered and photographed for the self-exclusion program.

An OLG spokesman provided this response when questioned by the CBC: “We provide supports to self-excluders by training our staff, by providing disincentives, by providing facial recognition, by providing our security officers to look for players. No one element is going to be foolproof because it is not designed to be foolproof”.

Impact (Australia)

According to the Productivity Commission’s 2010 final report on gambling, the social cost of problem gambling is close to 4.7 billion dollars a year. Some of the harms resulting from problem gambling include depression, suicide, lower work productivity, job loss, relationship breakdown, crime, and bankruptcy.

A survey conducted in 2008 found that the most common motivation for fraud was problem gambling, with each incident averaging a loss of $1.1 million. According to Darren R. Christensen. Nicki A. Dowling, Alun C. Jackson, and Shane A.Thomas a survey done from 1994–2008 in Tasmania gave results that gambling participation rates have risen rather than fallen over this period.

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How To Get Help For Gambling Addiction

People can often find themselves challenged when someone close to them suffers from gambling addiction. This condition is much harder to cure than the common cold and requires a specific approach to get started with the healing process.

  1. Protect Yourself – Make sure you are safe and protected from any bodily harm that may come your way before getting started with your approach.
  2. Get Help & Support – Make sure you have enough help and support from other close people. You can’t predict how the person will react as compulsive gambling can provoke various behavioral changes.
  3. Plan Your Strategy – Set up a strict strategy to handle financial matters. For example, getting authorization to manage the addict’s accounts, restricting their cash flow, and preventing online payments.
  4. Prepare yourself for the consequences – Gambling addicts can get rather manipulative and even violent in order to satiate their urge to gamble.

Gambling Addiction Help – US Hotlines And Meetings

  • Birmingham Hotline Number: (205) 824-2473
  • Montgomery Hotline Number: (334) 399-6918
  • Mobile Hotline Number: (251)-378-5018
AlaskaThere is no local listing available at the moment. Check the Gamblers Anonymous Hotlines site for more info.
  • Arizona Spanish Hotline Number (888) 665-8346 (888 NO-JUEGO)
  • Phoenix Hotline Number: (602) 266-9784
  • Tucson Hotline Number: (520) 570-7879
ArkansasThere is no local listing available at the moment. Check the Gamblers Anonymous Hotlines site for more info.
  • California Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Palm Springs Hotline Number: (760) 325-2808
ColoradoColorado Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
ConnecticutConnecticut Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Delaware Hotline Number: Check Gamblers Anonymous Site
  • Tucson Hotline Number: (520) 570-7879
District of ColumbiaD.C. Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
FloridaFlorida Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Atlanta Korean Hotline Number: (678) 431-6600
  • Georgia Hotline Number: (404) 237-7281
  • Marietta/Douglasville Hotline Number: (404) 641-5327
HawaiiHawaii Hotline Number: (808) 284-8329
IdahoThere is no local listing available at the moment. Check the Gamblers Anonymous Hotlines site for more info.
  • Chicago Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Peoria Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Silvis Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
IndianaIndianapolis Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
IowaThere is no local listing available at the moment. Check the Gamblers Anonymous Hotlines site for more info.
KansasKansas Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
KentuckyKentucky Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Baton Rouge Hotline Number: (888) 502-5610
  • New Orleans Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
MaineMaine Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
MarylandMaryland Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
MassachusettsMassachusetts Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Grand Rapids Hotline Number: (616) 776-0666
  • Michigan Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
MinnesotaMinnesota Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
MississippiMississippi Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Eastern Missouri/Southern IL Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Kansas City Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Billings Hotline Number: (406) 860-8287
  • Helena Hotline Number: (406) 431-1663
  • Lincoln Hotline Number: (402) 473-7933
  • Omaha Hotline Number: (402) 978-7557
  • Carson City Hotline Number: (775) 882-8222
  • Reno Hotline Number: (775) 356-8070
  • Las Vegas Hotline Numbers: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
New HampshireNew Hampshire Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
New JerseyNew Jersey Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
New MexicoAlbuquerque Hotline Number: (505) 260-7272
New York
  • New York Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Albany Hotline Number: (518) 292-0414
North Carolina
  • Greensboro/Winston-Salem Hotline Number: (336) 681-8516
  • North Carolina Hotline Number: (919) 460-9039
North DakotaNorth Dakota Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Cincinnati/Dayton/Ohio Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Toledo Hotline Number: (419) 327-9514
  • Youngstown Hotline Number: (330) 505-5060
OklahomaOklahoma Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
OregonOregon Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Puerto RicoPuerto Rico Hotline Number: (787) 257-2204
Rhode IslandRhode Island Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Hotline Number: (919) 460-9039
South DakotaThere is no local listing available at the moment. Check the Gamblers Anonymous Hotlines site for more info.
TennesseeMemphis Hotline Number: (901) 438-3695
  • Austin Hotline Number: (512) 860-2958
  • Dallas Hotline Number: (214) 675-0939
  • Fort Worth Hotline Number: (817) 371-0624
  • Houston Hotline Number: (855) 442-7105
  • San Antonio Hotline Number: (210) 705-4429
UtahSalt Lake City Hotline Number: (801) 758-8890
VermontVermont Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Northern Virginia Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Staunton Hotline Number (540) 447-4889
WashingtonWashington Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
West VirginiaWest Virginia Hotline Number: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
  • Appleton Hotline Number: (920) 730-0353
  • Madison Hotline Number: (608) 283-5800
  • Wausau Hotline Number: (715) 297-5317
WyomingWyoming Hotline Number: 855-2 CALL-GA (855-222-5542)



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