DO I HAVE A PROBLEM?
People are not always sure that if they have a gambling problem. If that is the case, consider using two free, online, confidential resources.
First, visit http://www.divisiononaddiction.org/bbgs_new to take the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen, developed by Harvard Medical School faculty at the Division on Addiction.
A yes answer to any of the three questions means that it might be helpful to see a healthcare provider for further assessment. Keep in mind that most people with a gambling problem have another psychiatric problem that needs to be addressed along with the excessive gambling.
Second, if you are thinking about changing your gambling behavior, click on this link for Your First Step to Change - Gambling. Reading through this online guide will take about 20 minutes. It might help you decide if you need to change your gambling or seek outside help.
According to a University of Missouri study, about one-third of people who were diagnosed with a gambling disorder have gotten well on their own. The above resources as well as two research-based books written for the public might be helpful for those thinking about changing their gambling:
• Dixon, M.R., & Wilson, A.N. (2014). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Pathological Gamblers. Carbondale, IL: Shawnee Scientific Press LLC.
• Shaffer, H. J., Martin, R. J., Kleschinsky, J. H., & Neporent, L. (2012). Change Your Gambling, Change your Life: Strategies for Managing Gambling and Improving Your Finances, Relationships and Health. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Many have benefitted from attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings. Go to this website — http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga — for more information and locations of meetings.
FINDING A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
If you feel the need for further assessment or want to talk to a healthcare provider, there are various ways to find help.
• Check your health insurance list of behavioral healthcare providers to see if any specialize in gambling or other addictions.
• You can consult your state’s department of health to find out about licensed healthcare providers such as psychologists, social workers, or counselors. Check to see if the state certifies specialists in gambling disorder or if there are free treatment resources available. Many of the public health departments in the states operate a helpline for this purpose.
• Finally, you can call the free, confidential helpline number — 1-800-GAMBLER coordinated by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). The NCPG website also has a list of state councils on problem gambling that might be able to connect you to treatment services in your area.