Gambling Addiction Information & Treatment Program

For some people, gambling is more than just a form of entertainment — it becomes an ongoing problem that leads to financial issues, legal problems, lost relationships, and psychological stress. If you or a loved one are dealing with a gambling addiction, Meridian’s caring, professional counselors are ready to help.

What Is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is when a person continues to gamble despite negative consequences that affect their family, work, and/or personal relationships. Examples of gambling activities include casinos, slot machines, scratch-off tickets, and sports betting

Gambling can become an addictive behavior because winning initiates the brain’s reward system (dopamine), a similar bodily reaction as what occurs with substance use disorder. This behavior then creates negative consequences because individuals with a gambling disorder bet larger and larger amounts of money over time.

Risk Factors for Gambling Addiction

Gambling disorders can develop for a variety of reasons (similar to other addictions, like alcoholism or substance abuse), and problem gambling affects people of all ages and demographics. It’s important to keep in mind that, as the National Council on Problem Gambling explains, “anyone who gambles can develop problems.” 

As with any other behavioral addiction or drug addiction, genetics and family history play a factor. The risk factor for developing an addiction has genetic, neurological, and environmental components, and how the brain responds to certain behaviors will determine how a person develops cravings.

Warning Signs of Problem Gambling

If you answer “Yes” to any of the next three questions, you may have a gambling disorder:

    1. Are you restless and irritable if you try to stop gambling?
    2. Have you tried to keep family and friends from knowing how much you gamble?
    3. Have you had financial difficulties because of gambling that you had to get help with living expenses/credit cards from family or friends?

According to beforeyoubet.org, Ohio is home to over 919,000 at-risk gamblers. If you recognize warning signs in yourself or someone you know, reach out to Meridian today!

Diagnostic Criteria

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) outlines the criteria for being diagnosed with a gambling disorder. If you or a loved one has experienced four or more of the following criteria for 12 months, see a trained professional who can help overcome compulsive gambling

    • Gambling an increasing amount of money
    • Restlessness and irritability when attempting to stop gambling
    • Unsuccessful efforts to stop gambling
    • Thinking about gambling at other functions
    • Gambling when feeling stressed
    • Chasing losses
    • Lying about gambling troubles
    • Putting other responsibilities and relationships in jeopardy to gamble
    • Relying on others for financial help

If this is an emergency, call the problem gambling helpline at 800-589-9966.

Find Hope at Meridian Treatment Facilities

Our counselors assess each individual’s gambling symptoms and any other concerns or behaviors. We then work with you and your family to determine the best service(s) for your unique situation.

Boardman Office

8255 South Ave
Youngstown, OH 44512
Phone: 330-797-0070

Howland Office

1950 Niles-Cortland Road., NE
Warren, OH 44484
Phone: 330-797-0070

Meridian Road Campus

527 North Meridian Rd.
Youngstown, Ohio 44509
Phone: 330-797-0070

The initial assessment is a conversation between you, the counselor, and your family member (if applicable) to better understand your concerns. Our counseling services utilize a person-centered approach that prioritizes non-judgment, non-discrimination, and personalization.

Gambling Addiction Treatment Options

Meridian offers specialized treatment services designed to help adults overcome the effects of problem gambling. Services include consultation, assessment, counseling (individual, group, and/or family), financial planning, and relapse prevention. Free consultations are available for individuals and families.

All counselors who provide treatment within our Problem Gambling Program have received intensive gambling-specific training and are highly qualified to provide this specialized treatment.

Individual and Family Counseling

Family and significant others are encouraged to be involved in treatment. Information is provided on the disease and how the family can support the recovery process. The initial focus of this service is on money protection and pressure relief.

Group and Individual Outpatient Treatment

Group and individual sessions are scheduled weekly. Groups focus on support and sharing of personal recovery issues. Individual sessions deal with understanding the disease of gambling addiction and recovery.

Youth and Adult Prevention Services

Meridian provides gambling-specific education, professional training, outreach, and awareness within our community. This service focuses on youth, families, and the community. Our goal is to continually raise awareness about gambling issues, reduce misconceptions about who it affects, and provide resources to those in need.

Financial Planning/Budgeting

Initially, a family member or trusted person is identified to protect the money and take finances out of the gambler’s hands. Each family is asked to identify gambling losses and debt and track monthly spending as well as income sources. A credit report is suggested to verify consumer debt. From this information, a sample budget is formed and restitution options are identified.

Families are encouraged to be involved in the money protection and budgeting process but it is not required. A professional financial planner or advisor, or support through Gamblers Anonymous, is recommended in most cases.

Relapse Prevention

Continued group and family sessions provide extended support and the opportunity to process relapse triggers and safety plans. It is recommended that each member is involved in a community-based support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, or a spiritual or personal growth fellowship.

Medication

In some cases, medication may be part of a treatment plan. It’s important to remember that no medication will automatically cure an addiction disorder. However, medication like an antidepressant may relieve symptoms of any co-occurring mental condition, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, and impulse-control disorder. Treating both co-occurring illnesses is extremely important, especially if the disorder increases compulsive behavior.

As with any prescription, know that medication can cause its own side effects. Talk with your primary doctor and counselor if you are experiencing other health problems resulting from your medication.

FAQ About the Problem Gambling Program

I have no money for treatment. What is the charge?

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and The Ohio Lottery provide funds to help accommodate those who might not be able to pay.

The services needed are determined on a case-by-case basis to meet the needs of each individual. Based on presenting concerns, the counselor will work with each individual to create a program utilizing any combination of the services offered to provide optimal care.

This program is designed to meet each individual wherever they are in their recovery. A harm reduction approach to reduce gambling behavior may be utilized for anyone who does not want to engage in abstinence.

Many times, family members need extra attention to help cope with a loved one’s gambling issue. Consultation is available to the family, employer, or significant other, even if the gambler refuses help.

Generally, bankruptcy is a last resort. The gambler needs to make responsible restitution to everyone involved, including family. Gamblers Anonymous has pressure-relief services to help in difficult situations, and many reputable financial consultants can help work out payback terms for a fee.

As a treatment provider, our counselors are happy to talk with you about problem gambling and how Meridian can help. Other reliable resources in the state of Ohio include beforeyoubet.org and changethegameohio.org

Gambling Recovery With Meridian Treatment Centers

Our experienced counselors have received intensive gambling-specific training and are highly qualified to provide this specialized care.

If you think gambling addiction treatment may be your next step, Meridian is just a phone call away. Reach out today and find your hope!

If this is an emergency, call the gambling addiction hotline at 800-589-9966.

Man struggling with drug addiction in a counseling session.

What do current and recovering patients have to say about Meridian?

Without the help I got from Meridian, I would be dead. I’m so grateful to them for everything they did. Thanks to Meridian, I got my life back.

They actually care. Meridian helped me with my recovery. Really, they saved my life.

My Meridian counselor was the BEST ever. You should never hesitate to ask if you need help — they are great.

I had a great experience at Meridian. They are the best out there for drug and mental health issues.