Philadelphia is a city known for our sports teams and fans, who are the most knowledgeable and passionate. As an avid Eagles fan, I’ve noticed that every commercial break has sports betting advertisements for companies like FanDuel or Draftkings. Even sports analysts are promoting the apps and promising risk-free betting.
We know that there is no such thing as risk-free betting.
Not everyone who gambles develops a problem, but with the increased access (more casinos, online gambling, and sports betting) and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a higher risk of individuals developing a gambling addiction. Like many other substance addictions, those struggling with gambling addiction feel guilt, shame, and desperation from consequences of gambling including family strain, loss of employment, debt, and legal issues
There is hope
Recovery from gambling addiction is possible. Stevie struggled with gambling after being laid off from work. Going to the casino was a coping mechanism. Stevie’s compulsive gambling caused her to have a strained relationship with her daughter and grandchild – and three suicide attempts. After a three-day binge at the casino, it was a wake-up call for her to call for help.
She entered treatment. With the support of her daughter and professional treatment, she has been in recovery for 12 years. Stevie stated: “I still have good days and bad days, but I don’t gamble now. I choose not to gamble. I have found that my life has become meaningful again.” Read more stories of hope.
Help is available 24/7. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania runs the Helpline for individuals and families of loved ones struggling with gambling. There are three ways to access the Helpline. You can call or text 1-800-GAMBLER – or chat online. The Helpline provides crisis management, referrals to treatment, and other resources. Calls are free and confidential. For those whose primary language is not English, interpreter services are available in 200 languages.
Disordered gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions, with one in five individuals struggling with gambling attempting suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling or in a crisis, call or text 988 or chat via 988lifeline.org.
For additional support, Gamblers Anonymous, similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, is a 12-step fellowship of individuals who share their experiences, strengths, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problems and help others recover from a gambling problem.
About the Author: Tien Duong MSW is the gambling coordinator for Philadelphia County under the Behavioral Health Division at the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). Tien promotes awareness and education on problem gambling prevention.