Military Members May Be At Risk for Problem Gambling

The U.S. military may not be doing everything it can to diagnose gambling disorder, suggests the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report, which based its findings on Department of Defense (DOD) data, said the military has only diagnosed about .03% of its service members with the disorder each year. The GAO noted that the DOD doesn’t specifically target gambling abuse for screening, which means service members with the condition may be likely to go undiagnosed.

The GAO offered several recommendations, including the addition of problem gambling questions to the military’s screening processes. However, the DOD rejected that recommendation, arguing that it was “impractical to screen for every low prevalence disorder.”

It’s worth noting the DOD currently operates 3,141 slot machines—1,159 of which are on Japanese bases. The machines generated nearly $539 million in revenue from 2011 to 2015.

What We Know About Problem Gambling & Military Veterans

Previous research suggests problem gambling is an issue that impacts active-duty and retired veterans. For example, nearly 10% of U.S. vets struggle with disordered gambling, a rate that’s 2-3 times higher than that of the general population. In addition, about 17% of veterans with PTSD show symptoms of problematic gambling.

Researchers have also found that military experiences and post-deployment stress are associated with higher problem gambling rates among American veterans.

What to Do When a Service Member or Retired Veteran Gambles Too Much

Gambling becomes a problem when it has a negative impact on life. That impact can take the form of money arguments with a partner, lack of money to pay for necessities, or losing track of time while gambling. A problem gambler might seemingly gamble all the time or they might gamble in binges.

Take the quiz to find out if you or someone you love is at risk.

Veterans can find help by contacting their VA medical center or clinic. Make the Connection, by the Department of Veterans Affairs, also shares mental well-being resources for active-duty or retired service members.

For Lancaster or Lebanon resources, call the Compass Mark team at 717-299-2831.



Brain Activity Linked to Problem Gambling [Research]

Gambling addiction activates the same brain areas as cravings for alcohol and other drugs, according to recent research.  The study also revealed that problem gamblers showed a weaker connection between some areas of the brain.

The gambling study, conducted by an international team of researchers and funded by the UK Medical Research Council, found that gambling triggers activity in two brain areas, the insula and nucleus accumbens, in those addicted to the behavior. These regions are linked to rewards, impulse control, and decision making. Previous research had connected those areas to cravings for alcohol and other drugs.

In addition, the researchers discovered that problem gamblers showed a weaker connection between the nucleus accumbens and frontal lobe, which plays a role in decision making. Experts theorize that the weaker frontal lobe link makes it harder for a problem gambler to control impulses and easier to ignore the negative consequences of unhealthy gambling behavior.

The findings suggest that gambling addiction could possibly be treated in the future by controlling activity in those brain areas affected by gambling.

Gambling Resources for Health Care & Treatment Professionals

Treatment for Problem Gambling in Lancaster, PA, Lebanon, PA, and the Surrounding Area
Council on Compulsive Gambling in Pennsylvania
National Council on Problem Gambling
College Gambling Resources for Campus Health Professionals  

If you’re in Lancaster or Lebanon, you can also count on the Compass Mark Referral Team to guide you to the resources you need to help patients and clients.


How to Keep Your Resolution to Reduce or Stop Gambling

For many Americans, it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions: promises we make to ourselves to change our behavior in a positive way. If your gambling creates problems that keep you awake at night or it sparks conflict in your relationships, it might be time to change that behavior so you can live the life you deserve. Here’s how to keep a resolution to decrease or stop gambling this upcoming year.

Join a gambling self-help group.

Groups like Gamblers Anonymous (GA) can provide the support network you need to stop problem gambling behaviors. GA’s recovery program is based on the 12-step model that seeks to help people recognize their negative behavior and the impact it has on their life and the lives of those around them. The group is open to anyone who wants to stop gambling, and there’s no cost to attend. Find a GA meeting near you.

Seek professional counseling.

A professional therapist can be an ideal partner for reducing gambling in the new year. He or she will talk with you to learn more about your behavior, concerns, lifestyle, and more. Then the counselor will make recommendations for treatment and recovery.

Treatment for problem gambling usually includes a range of therapies that support each other. The foundation is talk therapy, which will help you recognize your behavior and its impact, as well as identify your personal gambling triggers. You’ll learn practical strategies to deal with those triggers in a more positive way so you can avoid relapses. Additional therapies vary, and they may include family/marriage counseling, financial/debt counseling, and, when necessary, substance abuse help or treatment. Find a gambling addiction treatment provider in Lebanon County, Lancaster County, and the surrounding areas.

Commit to lifestyle changes.

Stress is a primary trigger for many problem gamblers. Learning to reduce stress in a healthy way can reduce the craving to gamble and support long-term recovery. You’ll discover many different ways to dial down stress, but some of the more common methods include:

  • Physical exercise;
  • Meditation;
  • Journaling;
  • Hobbies, including crafts, music, art, and more;
  • Volunteer work.

Additional problem gambling resources in PA

Begin your new year by taking positive steps toward reducing or eliminating the gambling behavior that keeps you awake at night or affects your relationships. For more judgment-free guidance, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use this simple gambling help form.


Loved One Gambling Too Much? Learn What to Do

Whether your father’s pawned an heirloom for gambling money or your wife didn’t make a family event because she was parked in front of the slots, you understand that sometimes gambling becomes more than entertainment. It becomes a binge-like or all-consuming activity. If you love a person who struggles to control their gambling, here’s what you can do to help them and yourself:

Start a conversation with the gambler.

If your loved one isn’t in treatment for gambling, it’s time to begin a conversation with him or her. Choose a quiet time (i.e. not in the middle of an argument) and let them know you have concerns about the behavior. Use “I” statements, such as “I’m worried because the money for the mortgage was lost at the racetrack.” If you’re unsure where to start, contact the Compass Mark team for confidential, judgement-free guidance.

Take care of your own emotional well-being.

Like other addictions, compulsive gambling is a family disease. You’re likely feeling a range of negative emotions, including anger, guilt, frustration, weariness, or embarrassment. Start your own path to wellness by talking with a friend, spiritual counselor, or professional therapist. In particular, a therapist will offer the resources to assess your well-being and provide techniques for coping with stress and negative emotions in a healthy way.

Get a grasp on your personal financial situation.

For spouses or partners of compulsive gamblers, it’s essential to take control of your finances. Create separate checking and savings accounts that the gambler cannot access, and then deposit all your personal income, like paychecks, there. Close joint credit card accounts as well and, if necessary, open new accounts in your name only. If your finances are tied to the gambler’s debts, contact a nonprofit debt counseling service for guidance.

Learn more in How to Protect Your Money from a Problem Gambler.

Get help if the relationship is abusive.

Problem gambling has been linked to higher levels of domestic violence. If your partner is verbally or physically abusive, seek help immediately for yourself and, when necessary, minor children or elderly parents. Don’t wait and hope the situation will get better. Contact:

Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County: 717-299-1249 (collect calls accepted)
Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County: 1-866-686-0451
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


Men Who Gamble More Prone to Violent Behavior [Research]

Men who gamble are more prone to commit violence, according to new findings from University of Lincoln researchers.

The researchers, who surveyed more than 3,000 men in the United Kingdom, discovered that gambling at any level, from casual gambling to compulsive gambling, increased the likelihood they would engage in violent behavior, including domestic abuse. Researchers also found:

  • 50% of those with compulsive gambling (the most serious form of the disorder) and 28% of those who gambled casually had been in a physical fight over the previous 5 years.
  • 19% of non-gamblers reported being involved in violence.

The difference between non-gamblers and gamblers extended to weapons use as well:

  • About 25% of compulsive gamblers and 18% of problem gamblers (those showing several symptoms of the disorder) reported using weapons during violence.
  • Only 7% of non-problem gamblers reported weapons usage.

The study also revealed that problem and compulsive gamblers were the most likely to say they had hit a child or been violent with a partner. Nearly 10% of compulsive gamblers admitted to hitting a child.

According to researchers, the results stayed “statistically significant” even after they were adjusted for mental illness and impulsive behavior.

This study adds to the growing body of research that connects domestic violence and problem gambling. And, recently, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) launched its own survey to find out if there are links between disordered gambling and domestic partner abuse.

Domestic Violence Help in PA

No one deserves physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. If you or a family member is being abused, don’t “wait it out,” hoping your partner gets his or her gambling under control. Reach out for professional, compassionate help now.


Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County at 717-299-9677

Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County at 717-273-7190

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

Gambling Addiction Help in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA

If you need to locate gambling help resources, including intervention or treatment, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.


Alcohol Abuse and Gambling: How to Break the Cycle

Gambling addiction isn’t a money problem. It’s a serious, progressive condition that’s connected to a host of other serious problems, including alcohol abuse. Here’s what you need to know about the alcohol abuse-gambling addiction cycle and how to break it:

Research suggests nearly 75% of people with the most serious form of gambling addiction abuse alcohol too. About 44% of those who struggle with at least some problem gambling criteria abuse alcoholic substances as well.

Why Do Alcohol Abuse and Problem Gambling Co-Occur So Frequently?

The significant stress and strain of living with an often hidden gambling addiction compels some people to turn to alcohol as a way to relieve those feelings. In other people, alcohol abuse leads to problem gambling. Alcohol lowers inhibitions–a factor that potentially results in anything from driving under the influence to betting too much at the blackjack table.

Regardless of the origin, these behaviors reinforce each other, and the result is frequently a cycle of drinking and gambling heavily. For some people, the behaviors are frequent, perhaps daily; for others, they occur in binges.

In addition, research suggests that substance abuse and behavioral addictions, like gambling, share some of the same biological foundations and risk factors.

Alcohol Abuse and Problem Gambling: Relapse Dangers

It’s also critical for anyone struggling with either condition to be aware of the potential impact of the other behavior on recovery. Gambling can provide a pathway toward relapse when someone is recovering from alcohol abuse. For example, alcohol is an ingrained part of casino and racetrack environments. An alcohol abuser in recovery might find it hard to resist cravings in a gambling atmosphere. The reverse is also true: a recovering problem gambler can find that alcohol lowers his or her inhibitions, making it harder to overcome gambling cravings.

You Can Break the Cycle.

Treatment and lasting recovery are possible! If you or someone you love struggles with both behaviors, it’s time to find specialized treatment that supports recovery from alcohol abuse and gambling addiction. Find a Treatment Provider, or contact Compass Mark for confidential guidance to help resources in Lancaster County and Lebanon County. Call our team at 717-299-2831 or use the Compulsive Gambling Help Form.

Learn More:

When a Loved One is an Alcoholic and Compulsive Gambler: Guide for Families
Trading Alcohol Abuse for Problem Gambling: 4 Facts for Loved Ones 


Seniors & Problem Gambling: Does Your Loved One Need Help?

Have you lost sleep over a senior family member’s gambling behavior? If so, you’re not alone. Problem gambling is a hidden addiction among older Americans, according to presenters at a conference hosted by the Wellspring Center for Prevention and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ).

Several speakers highlighted the dangers of problem gambling in seniors, according to a Greater Media Newspapers article. One older speaker was a former mailman and messenger who spent years gambling openly. His gambling became more frequent after retirement. After his wife expressed concern about the behavior, the man became a closet gambler, secretly frequenting Atlantic City casinos. The man said during the conference, “I became a much better liar than a gambler.” He eventually began attending Gamblers Anonymous—and was forced out of retirement to pay off gambling debts.

During the conference, another in recovery from the addiction detailed how he failed to pick up his granddaughter because he was secretly gambling in Atlantic City. “I failed as a grandfather,” he said.

Casino staff members frequently pay special attention to senior gamblers, according to Daniel J. Trolaro, education coordinator at CCGNJ. Some employees will even send cards to seniors who haven’t visited the casino for a while. “They’ll greet you by your first name,” he said. “They’re happy to remember you. You’re getting treated like royalty.”

What to Do if You’re Worried About a Senior You Love

Know the Signs of Gambling Addiction in Seniors

  • Lying about time or money spent gambling;
  • Hiding gambling losses;
  • Gambling alone;
  • Tapping credit cards or dedicated funds, like a life insurance policy, to gamble;
  • Pawning or selling household items or valuables;
  • Lacking money to pay for medications;
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.

Understand Treatment Options

Before talking with your loved one, it’s helpful to understand the paths he or she has to recovery. Every person’s situation is different, so treatment plans may vary. However, in general, compulsive gambling treatment includes talk therapy, in which a trained counselor will help your loved one identify the root causes of their behavior. Then the gambler will learn healthier ways to cope with those negative emotions and unhealthy thought processes.

Treatment may also include self-help meetings, like Gamblers Anonymous. Other components might include, if needed, alcohol abuse treatment, clinical depression treatment, family counseling, or financial counseling.

Have a Conversation

It’s never easy to talk with a loved one about unhealthy behaviors, but it’s critical that you have the conversation. What’s more, it’s important to have it sooner rather than later with senior problem gamblers because he or she has less time to rebuild the financial resources needed to live a healthy life. Find more detailed tips for having the discussion in Living with a Compulsive Gambler-Tips for Family.

Find Help
The Compass Mark team has been helping families find the resources to overcome addiction in Lancaster, PA for 50 years. Call 717-299-2831 or use our easy Gambling Addiction Help Form. We’ll guide you to the right resources for you and your loved one.


Warning Signs of Problem Gambling [Infographic]

How do you know if you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling? The signs of compulsive gambling aren’t always crystal clear (which is why it’s sometimes called the hidden addiction), but there are red flags that suggest it’s time to seek out professional help.

Gambling addiction is a diagnosable condition that impacts every aspect of life—not just the bank account. The stress and strain of this addiction affects physical and emotional well-being. It’s been linked to substance abuse, clinical depression, and increased suicide risk.

Check out this warning signs infographic from Ohio for Responsible Gambling. (If you need to view it at a larger size, right click on the image and choose “open image in new tab.”) Then take the simple assessment quiz on our home page to find out if you or someone you know is at risk for compulsive gambling. If you need additional help, a counselor trained to work with gambling addiction can conduct a thorough assessment and, when necessary, develop a treatment plan that points you toward recovery.


Learn More
Support Your Compulsive Gambling Recovery: Do’s and Don’ts
Is a Loved One Addicted to Gambling? 5 Tips for Family, Friends
Gambling Addiction Treatment Options in the Lancaster/Lebanon Area

Get Help
For 50 years, Compass Mark has been helping individuals and families discover help and hope for addiction disorders. Don’t wait until “rock bottom” to seek help.  Call our team for confidential guidance at 717-299-2831 or use the Compulsive Gambling Help Form.


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.




Why Do Gamblers Gamble? [Infographic]

Gambling is a harmless form of entertainment for millions of American adults. However, more than five million Americans struggle with gambling addiction, a diagnosable condition that negatively impacts every aspect of their lives.

Excessive gambling is still viewed by some as a weakness or vice that can be stopped by simply exerting more willpower. Yet a growing body of research shows it’s a condition rooted in a complex brew of sources that can include genetic, biological, and environmental factors.

But why does anyone gamble in the first place? The Psychology of Gambling infographic, developed by Injury Free Nova Scotia and shared via Kings Community Action Group on Gambling, shares insights on how gambling affects the way a person thinks and makes decisions.

Learn more below, and then take this assessment quiz to determine your risk for developing problem gambling. To find gambling addiction education and treatment resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA, call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our simple Compulsive Gambling Help Form.