Signs of problem gambling:1

  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired feeling of excitement.
  • Being restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling.
  • Having repeatedly been unsuccessful at trying to control, cut back on, or stop gambling.
  • Frequently thinking about gambling (such as reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get money to gamble).
  • Often gambling when distressed, such as when feeling depressed, guilty, anxious, or helpless.
  • After losing money gambling, often returning to get even (referred to as “chasing your losses”).
  • Lying to conceal gambling activity or losses/damages caused by gambling.
  • Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job, or educational/career opportunity because of gambling.
  • Relying on others to help with money problems caused by gambling.
  • Sometimes there are no immediate signs! It can be hard to spot!

Gambling and the holidays: There are a lot of potential triggers during the holiday season: family games, scratch-offs as tickets, holiday sports events and holiday trips. The holidays are often so expensive and act as a trigger themselves just in order to participate.

Gambling and Coronavirus: While we have been in quarantine and experiencing social limitations, during the virus, gambling is still happening. Online gambling has seen a huge rise. Covid-19 has hit triggers for gambling behavior. These triggers include depression, loneliness, boredom, stress and anxiety.

With working online, there are less restrictions and more access. Covid-19 has also affected sports which transfers gamblers to online casino games. These are more addictive and therefore riskier.

Another risk factor is that with unemployment on the rise and the unstable economy, many people are turning to gambling behavior as another source of financial means. Debt and financial uncertainty can lead to temptations toward this behavior but the overall repercussions of debt or continued uncertainty are risks for mental health issues.

Problem is the solution mentality: Just need one jackpot!

Types of Treatment for Gambling from NCBI:

  • Gambler’s Anonymous
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Behavioral Therapies
  • Psychodynamic Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Harm Reduction
  • In all treatment: address finances!


Gambling is the “dark horse”, many people struggle in silence as its more difficult to see.  Gambling addiction has the highest suicide rate. Debt can intensify feelings of vulnerability to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, depression, and increase criminal behavior. Extremem debt can lead to thoughts like, “I’m worth more dead than I am alive.” Let’s dismantle the irrational thought and conduct some reality testing of these distorted thoughts. Would loved ones truly want to miss you over the other repercussions of gambling? Is it a permanent solution to a temporary problem?


Center for Problem Gambling: 518-462-6531
Capital Counseling EAP: 518-465-3813
Gamblers Anonymous: 518-292-01414

By: Adalyn Wilson, MHC Intern