Help for a Gambling Problem | Where to Start

You’ve got a gambling problem. Now what? A review of what to look for in a therapist or treatment center, plus a look at the main types of treatment available. More here.

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By Sydney Smith, LCP and Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor

Where Can I Get Help for Gambling?

A question I am frequently asked by individuals looking for help for themselves or loved ones struggling with gambling addiction is,

“How do I find the right treatment center or therapist?”

Depending on the location of where you live, there may be many different types of treatment options available, and this can feel very overwhelming. However, one of the most important things to identify when it comes to getting help with gambling addiction is finding therapists or treatment centers that have clinicians who are trained and focused specifically on gambling.

Asking the right questions of centers and providers will assure that you will be connected to someone who is qualified to treat a gambling disorder, and may make the difference between a successful and a poor outcome. Appropriate questions include:

  • Do your therapists have certification in treating disordered gambling?
  • Have they had gambling-specific training?
  • Is there a program/therapy available for family members of the gambler in the treatment center?
  • What are the levels of care you provide?

Many places treat addiction, in general. But when looking for help with problem gambling, you need to search for those who are qualified and trained in this specific area.

Main Types of Gambling Treatment and Help

Based on the severity of a person’s gambling disorder or the family’s situation there are several levels of care that can be chosen, if available.

  1. Inpatient
  2. Intensive Outpatient
  3. General Outpatient

These are the most common. What’s the difference between them?

Inpatient, or residential treatment, is ideal for someone who is deep in their addiction, has had many unsuccessful attempts at stopping, and who has tried other types of help or counseling without success. This option is appropriate for more severe situations where receiving help in a supportive structured environment can provide the most beneficial. Residential stays are generally long-term and can range from 30 to 120 days, during which time the client lives and stays at the facility. There are residential treatment centers all over the world that have a specific focus in gambling addiction.

An Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP, is ideal for individuals who are having problems associated with their gambling behavior and who may need more intensive services than can be provided by individual, but who do not require the degree of structure provided by an in-patient facility. IOP programs are typically 9-12 hours a week, and most work is done in a group setting. IOPs are a good fit for those who are working, have families, or other daily responsibilities that won’t allow them the luxury of going away for months to get help.

The lowest level of care, general outpatient, generally consists of 1-2 counseling sessions a week based in an individual setting. Family therapy usually falls under a General Outpatient setting, though group therapy is encouraged where available.

At RISE Center for Recovery in Las Vegas, NV we offer General Outpatient, as well as IOP for both the gambler and the family members. Our therapists are dually-licensed and are qualified to work with mental health issues, gambling, and other addictions.

So, if you’re looking for help, feel free to reach out.

We’re eager to hear from you.

About the Author: Sydney Smith, CEO of RISE Center For Recovery in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a psychotherapist and Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor, currently active in her practice which has a specialty focus on the treatment of problem gamblers and their family members. She also works as a researcher with the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas, NV. She was the 2016 recipient of the Shannon L. Bybee Award.
About the author
Authors contributing to this blog on Disordered Gambling are all recipients of the Shannon L. Bybee Award, presented by the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling in recognition of proactive commitment to problem gambling advocacy, education, and research. If you believe that you or a loved one may have a gambling problem, please call the 24-hour national Problem Gamblers Helpline at (800) 522-4700 FREE for confidential assistance.
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