Is problem gambling a treatable addiction?

Problem gambling is a treatable disease. Like any other addiction, steps can be taken to break the hold gambling has over a person and the lives of their family. The first step is realizing that there is a problem and taking the step to access treatment. This is followed by sticking to the treatment plan and following through with action. The last step is developing a maintenance plan for success. Problem gamblers need to surround themselves with healthy support systems and develop healthy coping mechanisms that can assist them during times of great stress or turmoil.

What help is available for problem gamblers and families?

The NCPGP helpline, texting and chatting online options connect a caller, self-identified gambler or concerned family member to a trained and licensed clinician.

The clinician will perform a screening and provide options on all free counseling services. NCPGP has more than 80 trained providers throughout the state of North Carolina available to provide face-to-face counseling for up to sessions at no cost.

If someone is not able to see a counselor face-to-face due to barriers such as transportation, the program offers a phone counseling program called Call 2 Change.

What do families need to know?

Gambling Disorder is considered a “hidden addiction” and may not be apparent at first. There is help and families are eligible for support, counseling and education.

Research supports that family members of individuals diagnosed with gambling disorder are likely to report mental health problems, emotional disturbances, physical health problems, high-risk drinking, decreased social support and impaired social life. The children of individuals with gambling disorder are also likely to report depression and gambling problems; it's important that families reach out for help for themselves and their children.

Financial counseling is important in order for families to take charge of finances during treatment.

Families should also be aware that there is a high rate of suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts among individuals diagnosed with gambling disorder. Click Here to Access the Suicide Prevention Helpline.

What do parents need to know?

Parents need to be aware that their children are gambling formally and informally with their friends and family on games of chance and skill. It is estimated that 93 percent of youth have access to the internet and 700,000 young adults gamble online monthly on more than 3,000 gambling websites. Even more importantly, the highest rates of problem gamblers are in their teens and 20s.

If the parent chooses to gamble, healthy social gambling behaviors need to be modeled. The best step a parent can take is to be actively involved in the child’s life. Make sure the child understands that gambling can become an addictive behavior by finding teachable moments to share information about problem gambling.

Click Here to Access Fact Sheet on Teens and College-Age Students.

Why get financial counseling?

While clinicians can help address the mental and psychological challenges from gambling addiction, financial counselors and other experts offer additional support for money management.

Financial counselors can help with debt consolidation, assist in obtaining lower interest rates, debt settlement, aid family members whose money may have been stolen, protect spouses by offering separate accounts, create budgets or engage a Power of Attorney (POA) to help a gambler control the disbursement of funds.

Ideally, financial counseling, when necessary, takes place at the same time as treatment for gambling addiction.

What is voluntary self-exclusion?

Self-exclusion (or self-banning) is a voluntary process where a person with a gambling problem excludes themselves from areas of specific gambling venues.

The North Carolina Education Lottery provides self-exclusion for lottery purchases at the pump or online. Contact Teri Riddle at 919-301-3304 or for more information, or visit the links provided.

At Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino and Hotel in western North Carolina, a problem gambler can make a request online to be self-excluded from the casino for periods of 1 year or 5 years. Problem gamblers may also self-exclude themselves permanently. The self-exclusion phone number is 1-800-694-9960 or email for additional information. Also, please visit the link below: