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Help with Problem Gambling

Loved Ones

If someone you care about is struggling with gambling addiction, you're not alone. It can be difficult to know what to do or where to turn for help, but this page will offer resources and information to help you support your loved one.

We understand that dealing with a loved one's gambling addiction can be overwhelming and emotionally draining. It's natural to feel frustrated, angry, or helpless. But it's important to remember that there are things you can do to help and that you don't have to go through this alone.

Understanding Problem Gambling

What is gambling disorder?

Gambling disorder is a condition in which gambling becomes an addiction and interferes with a person’s daily functioning and overall health. Signs and symptoms may include borrowing money, lying, having to gamble with more and more money, chasing losses, and unsuccessful attempts to cut back. Gambling disorder affects the brain similarly to how drug and/or alcohol addiction affects the neuropathways/dopamine reward system.

Is gambling disorder a mental illness?

Yes, gambling disorder is recognized in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual V as being a mental illness and is categorized along with substance use disorders. Gambling disorder is also recognized in the International Classification of Diseases.

Have the Conversation

The question of 'What should I do?' is a common one among the loved ones of those struggling with a gambling disorder. The information below is some resources to provide assistance. Now is a great time to “have the conversation” about the risks of gambling and gambling addiction in a non-judgmental and conversational matter-of-fact manner. Removing the stigma associated with addictive behaviors can often start with the language that is being used. This Guide To Having the Conversation can help you navigate that initial conversation.

Treatment Options

The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline (1-800-989-9966) and can connect you with treatment options in your area. Gambling treatment is free or low-cost in Ohio for those experiencing a gambling problem and their loved ones. The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline can also refer callers without local treatment options to the Ohio Gambling Telehealth Network, which provides virtual telehealth treatment for problem gamblers and their families.

Veterans and active duty military members can participate in the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center residential gambling treatment program.

Athens Health Recovery Services (740) 592-6720
Akron CHC Addiction Services (330) 434-4141
Cleveland Recovery Resources (216) 431-4131 ext. 2548
Cincinnati Center for Addiction Treatment (CAT) (513) 381-6672
Hamilton Community Behavioral Health (513) 887-8500
Kent Townhall II (330) 678-3006
Toledo Zepf Center (419) 841-7701 ext. 6111
Youngstown Meridian Community Care (330) 797-0070
Columbus Maryhaven (614) 324-5425

Support Groups

These groups offer a safe, non-judgmental space for individuals who have a loved one affected by problem gambling to share their experiences and receive encouragement and support from others who have faced similar challenges.

  • Gam-Anon is a fellowship of people who have been affected by the gambling problem of another. This support group can help you find your way back to a normal way of living, whether or not your loved one continues to gamble. Membership is voluntary, requiring only that one's own life has been affected by someone else's gambling problem.

  • Gamblers, Family and Friends In Recovery (GFFR) was born out of the need to support compulsive gamblers, and families and friends affected by someone’s gambling, who were no longer able to attend face-to-face meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their mission is to provide a resource for finding online recovery meetings efficiently.

Financial Strategies

Problem gambling impacts more than just the individual. Often times family members and friends are also impacted, as problems can extend far beyond the gambler. If you know, or believe, that your loved one has a gambling problem, here are some tips to protect yourself and your finances:

  • Lock your credit. Though “locking” a shared credit account may temporarily prevent you from having access to your own funds, it will help prevent the situation from getting any worse than it already has.
  • Open a new credit card and bank account in your name only. There are plenty of married couples who manage their finances entirely separately. By detaching your name from damaged accounts and creating new accounts that only you will have access to, you can prevent your loved ones from draining your funds while also ensuring that your credit score is protected.
  • Lock or transfer any of your long-term accounts. Those struggling with addiction are especially likely to focus on long-term assets — college savings, retirement funds, vacation savings — because they will not have to face the consequences of these actions until much further down the road. 
  • Speak with a financial advisor. Experienced financial advisors have likely worked with people in situations similar to yours in the past. They may have expert advice regarding other actions you can take.

Additional Resources

There are many self-help strategies that can be effective in managing gambling addiction. These may include setting financial limits, avoiding triggers, practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and developing healthy coping mechanisms. Below are a list of additional resources aimed at self-help and harm reduction practices.

  • Gamban is an easy-to-use application that blocks online gambling on all of your installed devices, offering you a secure, reliable, and affordable option to stay away from gambling sites and apps. It works on MacOS, Windows, Android, and iOS. It has both monthly and annual subscription options.

  • BetBlocker helps users restrict access to gambling websites and apps by scheduling blocks during specific times when you know you'll need it or altogether. It is free and available on all devices.

  • Video game addiction is a real mental health condition affecting millions of people worldwide. It received recognition from the World Health Organization as 'Gaming Disorder' in 2019. Game Quitters includes programs, resources, and support groups for those struggling with video game addiction.

  • The True Link Visa Prepaid Card allows users to customize spending preferences to limit what establishments it works, how much can be spent at certain businesses, restrict access to cash and ATMs, and get real-time alerts to stay informed and track spending.

  • Gamtalk is a supportive community helping people with gambling issues share their experiences in a free, anonymous manner. It includes live chat, stories of hope, and community space to share your thoughts and feelings regarding your recovery journey.

  • QuitGamble has a strong social media community focused on quitting gambling, free video courses that provide engaging exercises and challenges, and awareness guides on gambling disorder. Their online community seeks to embrace technology to make the process of stopping gambling fun, engaging, and about something more than just quitting.

  • Promotion Removal & Financial Restrictions

    If you want to exclude yourself from promotions and marketing material from gambling operators in Ohio, you have several options. Each property has its own process, but all of them are required to provide multiple ways to remove yourself. For instance, you can unsubscribe from emails and call the customer service number of your local property to learn more about promotion removal. Additionally, many properties have their own financial restrictions that you can apply to limit your spending. To obtain further information, please contact your property.

    If you wish to request removal from Ohio Lottery mailings, you can call their customer service line at 1-800-662-4208.