Compulsive Gambling Treatment


For some people, gambling is an occasional recreational activity, but for the compulsive gambler, it is a progressive and destructive disease.

What Defines Problem Gambling?

The American Psychiatric Association identifies problem gambling as a mental health disorder characterized by the following:

  • Preoccupation with gambling
  • A need to gamble with increasing amounts of money
  • Unsuccessful efforts to cut back or stop gambling
  • Gambling as a way to escape from problems or change moods
  • Gambling as a method to recoup money lost from gambling
  • Lying to family members and friends about the extent of involvement with gambling
  • Committing illegal acts to finance gambling
  • Problems with employment, family, education, or a significant other, that can be traced back as related to gambling
  • Bailouts – money from others used to get out of gambling debts or to continue gambling

Help with the Cost of Treatment in PA

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs has a program to assist residents of Pennsylvania with the cost of treatment for Compulsive Gamblers and their family members. Call 215.692.2753 to determine if you are eligible for assistance, which is based on your county of residence, number of family members living in the household and monthly income.

"As a counselor internationally certified in the treatment of compulsive gambling, I want to work with you to restore you and your family."—Loretta M. Vasso, M.S., CADC, ICGC-I

With the advent of more and more casinos, sportsbooks and online gambling in our service area, gambling for some has turned from a recreational activity, to an impulse that is impossible to resist. This is in spite of the detrimental effects of compulsive gambling on your family, your educational and vocational pursuits, your physical and mental health, and the inevitable financial devastation.

It is very important that the problem gambler, and possibly their family members, receive treatment due to the unique nature of the addiction – the distorted relationship to money and the extensive fantasy system related to the disorder.

Problem gamblers are often depressed and they have a higher suicide rate than the general population. Research has shown that gambling affects the brain’s neurochemistry.  But it is treatable.

Pathological gamblers do not have the choice to gamble, they are in a chemical psychoactive high. The moment the gambling is over, they typically slip into a chemical psychoactive low, an irritable depression they cannot tolerate. In time, their pleasure hormones become used up and problem gamblers must gamble again to feel normal. At this stage, they are not gambling for the money, here they are gambling to cope and for the feeling it produces. Just like an alcoholic, a pathological gambler is dealing with a brain disease.

We believe that there is innate health and wellness in each person and our focus is on helping people to create lives in which they are free of compulsion, feeling happy, and restored to a positive place in their families and their communities.

Just as with substances, the process recognizes that results are a matter of the client’s intentions, choices, commitment and actions taken toward creating a life worth staying healthy for, by building a strong foundation.

  • Set intentions for maintaining recovery from compulsive gambling
  • Identify risk factors, triggers and irrational beliefs
  • Address financial considerations
  • Identify your mental/emotional/behavioral phases of gambling
  • Discover and manifest your desires
  • Assist with values clarification
  • Joyfully harmonize and flow with your experience of abstinence
  • Understand and celebrate the things you truly value in life

Call 215.692.2753 for a no-obligation telephone consultation on how Alliance Counseling Services can be of assistance to you and/or your organization.