Typically, one of the things that constitute addictive behavior is the tendency to continue engaging in the problematic behavior even when one realizes it is detrimental and hurtful. Gambling is no different, as the urge to gamble is compulsory for people who are addicted to it. When gambling becomes a problem, pocketbooks aren’t the only things affected. Relationships with friends and family, physical health, and mental health can all be at risk when gambling becomes a significant part of someone’s life.
Whether they precede or coincide with a gambling habit, there are many mental health issues that can be co-occurring—depression, anxiety, or a drug or alcohol addiction are common examples. There are many ways to get started coping with your own gambling problem or a loved one’s addiction, including support groups, 12-step programs, and speaking to a qualified mental health professional. Meeting one-on-one with a counselor or therapist can help identify coexisting mental health issues, if any, and give you a personalized approach to dealing with the addiction.
The first step to healing is getting more information about compulsive gambling. Below we have compiled a list of 10 of our favorite websites (in addition to GoodTherapy.org) that can help with many aspects of the process of recovering from a gambling problem or helping a loved one do so.
Many of the sites included below offer free online quizzes to help identify problem gambling in yourself or your loved one. While it is certainly valuable to be able to recognize signs and symptoms of a gambling addition, it’s important to remember that no website can definitively analyze any mental health issues that may be affecting you. The sites below have been suggested on the merits of the information they offer, including immediate crisis resources such as compulsive gambling hotlines. GoodTherapy.org does not endorse or condone online counseling or therapy they may provide, as such a medium is often problematic. There is no substitute for a trained mental health professional’s opinion during a face-to-face psychotherapy session.
- Gam-Anon: Gam-Anon organizes meetings all over the world to help compulsive gamblers and their loved ones find help and hope. While Gam-Anon is primarily a 12-step program for problem gambling, the website offers general resources that pertain to family and friends of gamblers, professionals, and people who have a gambling problem—whether or not they are involved with or interested in the 12-step program. Gam-Anon.org is a good place to identify whether you or your loved one does have a problem gambling, and what action to take.
- Gambling Recovery: If you or someone you care about is involved with problem gambling, there are many options for treatment. Gambling Recovery details several of them, including step-based programs, holistic treatments, and inpatient facilities. You can explore options before committing to a meeting or appointment, as well as get general information about gambling addiction and even the prevalence and biological basis for gambling issues.
- National Council on Problem Gambling: The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) exists to support, advocate for, and provide resources for people who have problems gambling and their loved ones. As an organization that does not take a stand for or against legalized gambling, the NCPG promotes the health and wellness of those with a gambling addiction by hosting the annual National Conference on Problem Gambling, supporting the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700), and leading education and distributing information and research in the field of gambling addiction.
- Gambling Help Online: Based in Australia, Gambling Help Online provides access to immediate phone and online support. Resources on the website can help you identify problem gambling, regain control, and figure out treatment options. If you have been affected by a loved one’s problem gambling, you can learn how to effectively help your friend or family member. It’s also important to care for yourself if you are living with a gambler, and Gambling Help Online can help you can control your own self-care routine.
- Gamblers Anonymous: In 20 questions, you can get closer to figuring out whether your gambling has become compulsive or has developed into a dangerous habit. Like Gam-Anon, Gamblers Anonymous is a 12-step program that offers regular meetings in the United States and all over the world. In addition to providing ways to help you identify a gambling addiction, the Gamblers Anonymous website can help answer your questions about problem gambling, 12-step programs, and the road to recovery.
- GamCare: GamCare provides the national gambling hotline in the United Kingdom, which you can reach for free during a crisis at 0808 8020 133. There is also an online chatroom, which you can use to connect with others who gamble compulsively or have a loved one with a gambling problem. GamCare has its own online assessment tool that you can use to help determine whether your gambling is problematic.
- Big Deal: The legal age for gambling in the UK is 18, but that often doesn’t stop some teens from starting to gamble early. Created as a sister site of GamCare in the UK, Big Deal is an online resource that specifically addresses problem gambling behavior in teens and adolescents. Big Deal is also an anonymous platform for teens to tell their stories about gambling, their struggles and successes in recovery, and their advice to teens in similar situations.
- Gambling Responsible: If gambling is currently a healthy part of your life and is likely to remain a hobby or livelihood for you, it’s worth investing some time and energy into learning more about gambling responsibly. Managing gambling early on can help prevent it from becoming a problem for you or your loved ones later. Gambling Responsible promotes healthy ways of managing your money and making sure a hobby doesn’t become a habit. This blog uses videos and real-world examples of gamblers who are responsible in their approach to finances and various games as inspiration to others who gamble and want to avoid addiction.
- Problem Gambling Guide: The Problem Gambling Guide details a step-by-step approach to identifying problem gambling, seeking treatment and beginning recovery, and maintaining a lifestyle free of addiction and relapse. In addition to the timeless information provided on this site, you can find links to related resources, like motivational tidbits and encouragement. There’s even a game in which you can solve relatively easy mathematical equations to divert your attention from any gambling urges you have. Family members and friends can also find information and support on the site.
- Responsible Gambling Council: The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) is a nonprofit organization that creates programs to distribute information, prevent gambling in youth, and make policies that help stop the spread of problem gambling. RGC also has a free app called BetCheck, which you can download for iPhone, Android, or desktop. After entering your stats, BetCheck will tell you how your gambling measures against a “typical” gambler, which can help determine whether your gambling is problematic. (The statistics of a typical gambler were gathered from a study in Ontario, Canada.) Gamblers of all ages, as well as their family and friends, can find useful information, news, and research about problem gambling with the RGC website.
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