Support Your Compulsive Gambling Recovery: Do’s and Don’ts

You’re ready to make positive changes in your life—and they don’t include gambling. The first step toward lasting change is to develop a treatment plan with the help of a gambling addiction counselor. Once you have a roadmap to recovery, use these do’s and don’ts to support your gambling-free life.

  • Do learn to cope with emotional triggers.
    A therapist trained to work with problem gamblers will help you pinpoint your gambling triggers, which may include stress, anxiety, boredom, or loneliness. Be alert to their appearance in day-to-day life, and take action by coping with them in a healthier way. For example, if you feel stress, find a healthy outlet like exercise.
  • Don’t neglect your emotional health.
    Problem gambling impacts every facet of life, from your relationships to your bank account. Even if you’ve committed to changing your life, you may be dealing with the consequences of gambling for years to come—and that can create the stress, anxiety, and fear that threaten recovery. Take care of your emotional health in a way that works for you, whether that’s talking with a therapist, starting a journal, or taking up a creative activity, like painting.
  • Do get a handle on finances.
    It takes time to rebuild financial resources lost to problem gambling. Consult a nonprofit debt counseling service to assess your money situation and create a plan for financial recovery. Support your new gambling-free lifestyle by committing to a budget and making lifestyle changes that save money.
  • Don’t keep your recovery a secret from those you love.
    Explain problem gambling, which is often misunderstood as a lack of willpower, to loved ones and let them know their support is important to your recovery.  Since problem gambling tends to fracture relationships, seek out family therapy to help begin the healing process.
  • Do make lifestyle changes that support recovery.
    Some changes may be financial. For example, you might restrict your access to cash by having a partner exclusively handle household finances. Other changes may focus on the people with whom you spend time. If you have friends who regularly gamble, it will be healthier for you to cut back or eliminate the time you spend with them.

For additional gambling recovery resources in Lancaster or Lebanon, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use the Compulsive Gambling Help Form.




Gambling Addiction Through Her Own Eyes: One Woman’s Story

What does the face of gambling addiction look like? In one family’s case, it was the face of a mother with two young children. Recently, Woman’s Day published “How I Overcame a Gambling Addiction That Landed Me in Prison,” the story of a Las Vegas woman who was imprisoned for stealing to support her compulsive behavior.

Grace Conenna, who had been the office manager at a family-owned business, says in her account:

“One afternoon I wrote myself a $2,000 check from the company account. It’ll be a one-time thing, I promised myself. But it wasn’t. Over the next two years, I swiped $98,000 more.”

The woman notes that most people would have thought she looked like a “regular mom.” Yet, she says:

“The minute I sat down at the machine, I’d relax. And winning set me flying. I wanted to feel that high more and more often.”

For years, Conenna struggled to control the behavior, which was sometimes punctuated by periods of gambling abstinence. Read the full story (link above) to learn how her life unraveled and what happened after she was sentenced to prison when her children were ages 9 and 11.

You can heal from gambling addiction.

Conenna’s firsthand account is a compelling reminder that excessive gambling behavior has a profound impact on the lives of gamblers—and those who love (and rely on) him or her.

Professional therapists specifically trained to work with problem gamblers offer the tools to retrain unhealthy thought processes and improve coping skills. While specific treatment plans are developed for each unique situation, in general, problem gambling treatment combines talk therapy, self-help support groups, and lifestyle changes.

Take this gambling quiz to find out if you or a loved one is at risk for developing this condition, which is classified as a behavioral addiction by the American Psychiatric Association.

For confidential, judgment-free guidance, contact the Compass Mark team at (717) 299-2831, or find inpatient and outpatient treatment providers in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA at Treatment for Problem Gambling.


How to Know if You’re Living with a Problem Gambler: Quiz

Maybe you suspect your partner has a gambling problem, but he claims he’s simply blowing off steam at the race track. Perhaps your partner has started lying to explain why her paycheck seemingly disappears each week. It’s not always easy to know if someone has a problem with gambling; unlike alcohol or drug abuse there are few apparent physical clues. This guide will help you determine if it’s time to reach out for compulsive gambling help.

Gambling addiction is a progressive disorder that causes emotional, physical, and financial strain on the gambler—and those he or she loves. People with unhealthy gambling behavior are more likely to have depression, struggle with alcohol abuse, and experience serious family dysfunction, including partner and child abuse. They’re also at a higher risk for suicide.

Is your loved one addicted to gambling?

Take the quiz below, which was shared by Gam-Anon, a self-help group for people affected by a loved one’s problem gambling. The quiz isn’t a formal diagnostic tool, but it can help you determine if it’s time to talk with a professional counselor.

Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?

Is the person in question often away from home for long, unexplained periods of time?

Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?

Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?

Does the person in question faithfully promise that he or she will stop gambling; beg, plead for another chance, yet gamble again and again?

Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended to, until the last dollar is gone?

Does this person immediately return to gambling to try to recover losses, or to win more?

Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?

Does this person borrow money to gamble with or to pay gambling debts?

Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extent of committing illegal acts to finance gambling?

Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses, knowing that you and the rest of the family may go without food and clothing if you do not?

Do you search this person’s clothing or go through his or her wallet when the opportunity presents itself, or otherwise check on his/her activities?

Does the person in question hide his or her money?

Have you noticed a personality change in the gambler as his or her gambling progresses?

Does the person in question consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?

Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibilities for his or her gambling upon you?

Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s moods, or try to control his or her life?

Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling, sometimes to the point of self-destruction?

Has the gambling ever brought you to the point of threatening to break up the family unit?

Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

Did you answer “yes” a lot? Find help in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA.

Being with a person who struggles with compulsive gambling can feel overwhelming. At Compass Mark, we’ll provide confidential, judgment-free guidance to local problem gambling resources. Call 717-299-2831 or use our Compulsive Gambling Help Form.

If you’re interested in finding support with a Gam-Anon group, visit Find a Meeting in PA.


Problem Gambling Trends 2016 [Infographic]

Gone are the days when a gambler’s only access to betting was on a casino floor, at a race track, or in a private card game. Now, virtually anyone with internet access, including kids, can be exposed to gambling–and the potential for developing gambling addiction. Check out the infographic below on Problem Gambling Trends and Issues in 2016 from Prevention Lane at Lane County Public Health in Oregon.

Then let us know in the comments section: Were you surprised by any of the stats? If so, which one?

To learn if you or a loved one is at risk for problem gambling, take this simple quiz or visit Get Help in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA.



Does a Senior in Your Life Need Problem Gambling Help?

It’s no big deal when seniors gamble…or is it? Gambling can be a fun diversion for many older Americans; however, some seniors are at risk for developing problem gambling, a brain condition that can seriously impact emotional and physical well-being. March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month, so it’s an ideal time to consider whether a senior in your life needs help for unhealthy gambling behavior.

What are the signs of problem gambling in seniors?
  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling;
  • Betting with increasing amounts of money;
  • Becoming irritable or frustrated when he or she can’t gamble;
  • Using gambling to ease sadness, loneliness, boredom, or stress;
  • Lying or acting evasively when asked about gambling;
  • Declining levels of self-care (not bathing, not taking needed medication, etc.);
  • Pawning or selling possessions, valuables, or heirlooms;
  • Unusual cashing out of retirement accounts or life insurance policies.

Learn if your loved one is at risk by taking the quiz on our home page.

Can seniors be treated for gambling problems?

Yes! Your family member or friend is never “too old” or “too set” in his or her ways to start healing from gambling addiction. Therapists trained to work with this condition offer the resources to help seniors.

While anyone struggling with problem gambling will benefit from professional treatment, seniors in particular need help sooner rather than later. For instance, unhealthy gambling behavior causes a significant amount of stress that can strain an existing heart condition, putting your loved one’s physical health at risk. Learn more in 5 Reasons to Get Problem Gambling Help for a Senior—Now.

Where can I find gambling treatment in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA?

Check out these area Treatment Providers trained to work with gambling-addicted people. Compass Mark also offers information and referral guidance. Our team can even conference call with your loved one and his or her health insurance provider to sort out treatment/insurance-related questions. Call us at 717-299-2831.

For more in-depth information, join Compass Mark for Start the Conversation: Fantasy Sports Gamble on Wednesday, March 30, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This session, held at the Blair Room, 630 Janet Avenue, Lancaster, is worth 2 CEU credits.


Oregon Gambling Addiction Program Focuses on Latino Community

Fighting a stuffy nose? Take a decongestant. Sinus infection? Perhaps antibiotics. However when it comes to problem gambling, a one-size-fits-most approach may not always be the most effective way to nurture recovery. That idea has led one Oregon community to launch a gambling addiction program focused on the needs of Latino problem gamblers, according to Oregon Live.

The program, called ¡Adelante!, offers culturally-specific addiction prevention and treatment. Recently it began hosting weekly meetings for gambling-addicted Latinos. The meetings provide a Spanish-speaking alternative to the English-speaking Gamblers Anonymous meetings in that area. In addition, the program offers a full-time bilingual problem gambling counselor, eliminating the need to deliver treatment via interpreter.

Another critical component is its focus on culturally-relevant conflict, particularly among families who have recently migrated—a situation that creates unique education and economic challenges that cause stress and conflict. What’s more, since conflict can make some people more vulnerable to developing addiction, Adelante helps Latino problem gamblers identify and heal the disconnect that sometimes happens between immigrants and their U.S.-born children.

The Oregon Live report says state gambling data reveals ethnic minorities are at higher risk for developing compulsive gambling. In addition, last year the Oregon Lottery debuted lottery tickets specifically targeted to Latino players. The lottery group also launched an initiative to raise problem gambling awareness among the Spanish-speaking community.

Gambling Treatment in Lancaster, PA & Lebanon, PA

A problem gambler doesn’t need to hit rock bottom before seeking treatment. This condition is progressive and requires treatment by a professional counselor trained to work with problem gamblers. To find a Lancaster- or Lebanon-area provider, visit Treatment Resources, or contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831.

Learn more about gambling addiction on our Resources Page.

Find out if you or a loved one is at risk by taking the quiz on our home page.


Are You at Risk for Problem Gambling?

Millions of Americans safely enjoy gambling, whether it’s a Friday night poker game or a March Madness office pool. But if gambling is morphing into more than an occasional entertainment, it’s time to consider whether you’re at risk for developing problem gambling.

What is Gambling Addiction?

This condition is a serious disorder that’s classified as a behavioral addiction by the American Psychiatric Association. It’s progressive, which means it worsens over time. Some people progress into compulsive gambling within a few months, while others develop the problem more slowly, perhaps over a period of years.

A gambling-addicted person isn’t necessarily the player sitting for hours at slot machines every weekend–although that’s certainly the case for some. A problem gambler might spend hours using slots apps or online poker venues. Others become intensely focused on sports betting. Gamblers can even become addicted to playing the lottery. No matter what form of wagering a gambler prefers, betting becomes a problem any time it creates stress, anxiety, and conflict in the life of the gambler–and the lives of his or her loved ones.

Why Seek Problem Gambling Treatment?

Gambling problems are about so much more than money:

  • Clinical depression rates are high. In one long-term study, almost 75% of problem gamblers showed signs of depression.
  • Alcohol abuse rates are high. Up to 44% of problem gamblers abuse alcohol, and about 73% of those with pathological gambling, the most serious form of the disorder, abuse alcohol.
  • Suicide attempt rates are high.  As a group, gambling-addicted people have one of the highest suicide rates of any addictive condition—up to 20% have attempted or committed suicide.
  • Domestic violence & child abuse rates are high. Women with problem gambling partners are at greater risk for dating and marital violence. Research also suggests the children of problem gamblers are at higher risk for severe child abuse.

Take our quiz to learn if you’re at risk for problem gambling. If you’re not sure whether you should seek help, consider this: if gambling is starting to cause problems in your life, it’s worth the time to seek a professional counselor’s guidance. He or she will assess you and, if needed, develop a plan for recovery.

Where Can You Find Compulsive Gambling Treatment in Lancaster & Lebanon?

It is never too late or too early to seek addiction treatment—start changing your life in a positive way today. Find a Problem Gambling Counselor in Lancaster or Lebanon. You can also call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 for judgment-free guidance.



Tips to Resist the Urge to Gamble on the Super Bowl

Americans will wager an estimated $4.2 billion on the upcoming Super Bowl, according to a casino trade group. About 3% of those bets will be placed legally in casinos, while the remaining will occur in homes and workplaces or through sports betting sites and unlicensed bookmakers.

And there’s no question: betting on sports is a gamble—gaming board figures suggest legal sports wagers offer among the lowest winning percentages among gambling activities. For example, sports gamblers win 5.8% of the time, compared with 6.4% of slots players.

Tips to Resist Sports Betting

Wagering on any single sports event doesn’t necessarily indicate a person has a gambling problem. Millions of Americans will be able to bet for fun on everything from the coin toss winner to the final score.

For some, however, betting on the game is part of a pattern of unhealthy gambling behavior. What’s more, the social atmosphere surrounding the event can present challenges for those with problem gambling. If you or a loved one has gambling problems, events like the Super Bowl can trigger the urge to bet. Some gamblers may choose to avoid watching the game; however, if you want to take part in the festivities, here are tips to help you make healthier decisions:

  • Avoid participating in pools at the office and social clubs.
  • Avoid alcohol if you’re attending game parties—it lowers inhibitions and makes it harder for you to resist gambling cravings.
  • Attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting in Lancaster or Lebanon.
  • See your therapist. If you don’t currently have a plan to treat your problem gambling, consider consulting one of these Lancaster or Lebanon treatment providers.

Check out 6 Red Flags for Gamblers: When Is It Too Much?, or take the simple quiz on our home page to learn whether you’re at risk for compulsive gambling.

For 50 years, Compass Mark has given individuals and families the tools needed to overcome addiction. Let us help you. For additional problem gambling resources, including non-judgmental addiction referral information, call our team at 717-299-2831.


Specific Brain Connection Tied to Risky Gambling [Research]

People with a weaker neural connection between two specific brain regions may be more likely to make risky bets, according to recently-released research from Stanford University. The study was small, but it could help give direction to scientists and healthcare professionals working to understand the relationship between the brain and gambling addiction, a progressive disorder that impacts millions of Americans and their families.

During the study, which was published in the journal Neuron, each participant was given $10 and told to bet the money on a series of games or choose to not risk losing it.  Researchers monitored brain activity during the task with MRI technology.

The team found a direct neural connection between the anterior insula and the nucleus accumbens—a connection previously only recognized in animals.  The more thickly the cells in this pathway were insulated, the stronger the connection between the two areas. Participants with a stronger connection between the regions were more cautious gamblers.

In an article by Amy Adams for the Stanford News, researcher Brian Knutson said:

“Activity in one brain region appears to indicate ‘uh oh, I might lose money,’ but in another seems to indicate ‘oh yay, I could win something.’ The balance between this ‘uh oh’ and ‘oh yay’ activity differs between people and can determine the gambling decisions we make.”

The research offers clues that may help healthcare professionals and addiction therapists further expand their understanding of what is often a misunderstood condition.

Additional recent research in gambling addiction suggests:

Over time, the growing body of research will contribute to the development of more effective treatments for compulsive gambling.

However, problem gamblers don’t need to wait to reach out for help!

It’s never too early—or too late—to start on the path toward healing. Specialized therapists in Lancaster, PA and the surrounding areas have the tools to help you and your family. Find a treatment provider or contact Compass Mark at (717) 299-2831.


One Face of Gambling Addiction: 36-yr-old Mom of 6

“What does a gambling addict look like? Well, in my case a gambling addict looks like a 36-year-old mother of six.”

Those are the words of Kate Seselja, an Australian woman in recovery from compulsive gambling.

Seselja recently wrote a special commentary for CNN about her experiences with gambling, which started with lottery scratch cards as a child. She chronicles how her gambling behavior spiraled out of control over the next decades.

“I would go [to gamble] before work, after work, in lunch breaks, on nights out and days off. It’s easy to see now why some people call Pokies [slot machines] the “crack cocaine” of gambling. I was hooked,” she writes.

By age 32, the addiction had such a hold over Seselja’s life that she considered suicide as she sat pregnant and broke at a slot machine. “The nil balance on the screen was too much…Completely alone and feeling like there was nowhere to turn, my brain was trying desperately to figure out how to kill myself in such a way that my body could be kept alive in order to let my unborn baby be delivered to term.”

Compulsive Gambling Can Affect Anyone.

Problem gambling can impact anyone, regardless of their age, gender, socioeconomic status, or ethnicity. If you’re losing sleep because of gambling–whether it’s your behavior or that of a loved one–it’s time to reach out for a helping hand.

Visit these resources to learn more about gambling addiction:

Compulsive Gambling- The Must-Know Fact for Gamblers & Their Families

Stop Losing Sleep Over Problem Gambling: Do’s and Don’ts for Recovery

Gambling Addiction Treatment Options in the Lancaster/Lebanon Area

Compass Mark guides individuals and families in Lancaster and Lebanon to the resources that help them prevent and heal from addictions like gambling. Call us at 717-299-2831 or get in touch using our simple online help form.