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Problematic Gambling

Gambling often begins as a fun, harmless behavior, but can ultimately become an unhealthy obsession with problematic consequences.  If you or a loved one may be struggling with problematic gambling, help is available.  The first step is recognizing signs and symptoms that gambling has become problematic.

Signs of Problematic Gambling

  • Becoming secretive about gambling behaviors: You might lie about or hide your gambling behavior for fear that others will judge you or deem that you have a “problem.”
  • Difficulty controlling gambling: You may tell yourself you’re going to stop or cut back but find yourself compulsively engaging in gambling behavior.
  • Risking or losing important relationships, jobs, or school opportunities in favor of gambling: You may notice your grades are suffering, or you’ve withdrawn from important relationships with family and friends due to gambling.
  • Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble: You may be gambling with money you don’t have, trying to get back lost money, or gambling with increased amounts of money to achieve a thrill.
  • Friends or family members are expressing concern about your gambling behaviors: Your loved ones may notice changes in your behavior or attitude before you recognize that your gambling has become problematic.  It’s common to feel defensive; remember that they’re expressing concern because they care about you.


On Campus Resources

Problematic gambling occurs on a continuum from mild to severe. The Loyola University Counseling Center is able to provide assessment and short-term individual counseling for students whose symptoms are mild to moderate.  Due to the complex nature and risks associated with problematic gambling, The Counseling Center may recommend more comprehensive and specialized treatment off campus.  Consistent with our short-term model, the Counseling Center is unable to provide the full continuum of care to treat individuals struggling with significant gambling behaviors or addiction.

Community Resources

  • A Comprehensive List of counselors in Maryland is available through University of Maryland’s Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling
  • Gamblers Anonymous meets regularly to provide community and support for those struggling with problematic gambling.  Meetings occur virtually, in person, and over the phone.
  • The National Problem Gambling Helpline Chat provides virtual chat support 24/7 and is free and confidential.  You can also get free and anonymous support over the phone at 1-800-GAMBLER.
  • Smart Recovery is a global community of mutual-support groups for individuals struggling with any addiction.  

How to Help a Loved One

Like any addiction, problematic gambling causes significant problems in a person’s life, and impacts the family and friends of the person who is struggling.  While problematic gambling is complex, your support can be paramount in the process of recovery.  These strategies can help you support your loved one, while taking care of yourself.

  • Learn about problematic gambling. Educate yourself by knowing what addiction is and what to expect when someone suffers with addiction. This will help you set healthy boundaries and realistic expectations.
  • Talk to your loved one and offer support. You may recognize problematic behavior before your loved knows they have a problem.  Share honestly about what you’ve noticed, why you’re concerned, and consequences of problematic gambling.  Remind your loved one that you love them despite their behavior.
  • Recommend professional help for a loved one. It is helpful to recognize that you cannot “cure” a loved one’s addiction, and professional help is vital.  Talk with your loved one about the options for professional help and recognize that they may be resistant at first.
  • Get support for yourself.  Supporting a loved one through problematic gambling may impact your own mental health.  Talking with a counselor and practicing self-care may not change your experience overnight, but it is an important step toward processing the emotions that may come with supporting a loved one. Gam-Anon is a supportive self-help community for individuals who have been impacted by the problematic gambling of a loved one.

Consider Togetherall a 24/7 confidential peer to peer mental wellness resource, free to all enrolled Loyola students. Register here today. The Counseling Center located in Humanities 150 is open M-F from 8:30am until 5pm (EST) and closed when the university is closed.  If you would like to make an appointment with a counselor schedule an appointment online, stop by our office, or call 410-617-2273.



Contact Us

Humanities, Room 150
One flight up the turret entrance
Phone: 410-617-CARE (2273)

Call to schedule an appointment
Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.


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