skip navigation
 

Back to Graphic Version | SAMHSA News Home

SAMHSA News - July/August 2007, Volume 15, Number 4


Beating the Odds: Help for Problem Gambling

Slot machines pouring out quarters, roulette wheels spinning, and people gathering around blackjack and poker tables. For many people, gambling is one part of an exciting evening or weekend away from home.

For others, however, gambling is an addiction that causes financial, marital, and job-related problems that require treatment services. Gambling also can lead to related problems such as substance abuse.

To help, SAMHSA recently released a Problem Gambling Toolkit. The Agency’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) worked with the National Council on Problem Gambling and the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators to develop the toolkit.

The kit includes the following resources:

  • Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons with Co-Occurring Disorders (Problem Gambling): Excerpts from a Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 42 identifies key elements needed by treatment providers to coordinate mental health and substance abuse services for their clients who need both.

  • Problem Gamblers and Their Finances: A Guide for Treatment Professionals provides a basic understanding of the financial issues that confront problem gamblers and offers potential financial strategies.

  • Personal Financial Strategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers suggests ways for friends and family to deal with financial issues due to gambling before they become a major financial problem. It also can help loved ones of problem gamblers recover financially if they already have serious money problems.

Back to Top

Signs of Problem Gambling

Problem gambling is sometimes called a “hidden” disease because the gamblers themselves sometimes don’t even realize they have a problem. Some warning signs of problem gambling include:

  • Losing time from work due to gambling

  • Repeatedly promising to stop gambling, yet returning to it again and again

  • Borrowing money to gamble or to pay gambling debts

  • Lying to cover up gambling activity

  • Suffering from feelings of remorse or depression due to gambling

  • Gambling until the last dollar is gone.

Problem gamblers also commonly experience other addictive behaviors such as problems with drinking or drug abuse.

Back to Top

Protecting Finances

As described in the toolkit, a few crucial steps can help loved ones protect the family’s finances when there’s a problem gambler in the house.

Initial steps include the following:

  • Remove the gambler’s name from all credit cards.

  • Have the gambler’s paycheck deposited into an account that is in your name only, and agree to a weekly cash budget.

  • Call creditors, explain the gambler’s problem, and promise to provide a restitution plan in the next 30 to 45 days.

If gambling continues unabated:

  • Remove your name from any joint credit cards, and savings or checking accounts.

  • Alert all creditors to the problem and ask them not to extend any more credit.

  • Take over paying household bills, if possible.

  • Open a separate safe-deposit box in which to store valuables that the gambler might sell for cash.

  • Identify income and assets, establish a spending plan, and shift control of the finances to a non-gambler.

To order a print copy of the Problem Gambling Toolkit, contact SAMHSA’s Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) or 1-800-487-4889 (TDD). For more information, visit SAMHSA’s Web site at www.samhsa.gov.

Back to Top

Back to Graphic Version