Problem Gambling During the COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond
By: Wheeler’s Bettor Choice Gambling Treatment Program Team
Katherine Ducharme, LCSW, Senior Integrated Healthcare Clinician
Katie Kirch, LCSW, ICGC-II, BACC, Clinical Supervisor,
David Pogg, Peer Counselor
The COVID-19 outbreak has been stressful for everyone. People with an active gambling addiction, or who are in recovery, may find this period even more challenging because of the effects of prolonged isolation, boredom, economic instability, and fear. Add to this reality the fact that individuals who once turned to in-person gambling locales, cannot safely frequent casinos, or the race track, or other in-person gambling venues at this time, causing surges in anxiety and depression, and potentially increases in other forms of illegal gambling, including online activities.
Click HERE to learn more about Wheeler's Bettor Choice Gambling Treatment Program.
Gambling problems can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, socio-economic status, or other factors. The good news is that help and hope are always available. The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) defines problem gambling as "all gambling behavior patterns that compromise, disrupt or damage personal, family or vocational pursuits." According to the NCPG, symptoms associated with problem gambling include an increasing preoccupation with gambling; the need to bet more money more frequently; restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop or reduce gambling; lying to family members or others to conceal the extent of gambling behavior; and more. In extreme cases, problem gambling can create significant financial, legal, family, and work-related issues, or even result in suicide.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an active gambling addiction or are concerned about your recovery during this period, here are some tips.
Engage tools to prevent you from gambling online. Consider using Gamban internet blocking software or other self-exclusionary software programs to block online gambling on your installed devices and to help you resist the urge.
Connect online with recovery groups. During this time, especially, it’s important to not only find support for yourself but to help others who may not have any other connections with the recovery world. Consider contacting organizations such as the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) for details on what's available virtually.
Use your time in constructive ways. With shifts in your schedule, and potentially more time on your hands, work on projects that you have been putting off, especially as your schedule allows. Connect with friends and family, and set limits on your consumption of news and social media to lower your levels of anxiety.
Practice mindfulness. Be aware of and pay attention to the present moment. Use guided meditation and guided imagery to increase your awareness and focus. If anxious thoughts intrude, push those thoughts out of the way.
Reach out for support. Wheeler’s Bettor Choice Gambling Treatment Program, funded by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, continues to provide treatment through telehealth services to help individuals and families to cope and recover from this challenging problem. Treatment may include individual, group, marital and/or family therapy. Financial and peer counseling also are available. Individualized treatment plans are developed for all clients to meet their specific needs.
We are in the midst of a stressful time. You don’t have to endure it alone. Call us. We will help you achieve overall health, recovery and growth.
American Psychiatric Association
Connecticut and Western Massachusetts Gamblers Anonymous 855-222-5542
Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling
Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling Free Online Chat
Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
Gamban Internet Blocking Software
National Council on Problem Gambling
Wheeler Clinic’s Bettor Choice Gambling Treatment Program