When it comes to gambling, Richmond counsellor Phyllis Chan reassures her clients their particular addiction can be treated, and is not judged as a moral issue but a matter of mental health.
Chan, who runs her practice Horizons Counselling, specializes in gambling addiction treatment, which is provided at no charge thanks to provincial funding.
She finds that often clients start their devotion to gambling as a way of providing for their family, or filling a perceived need.
“At the beginning, they may just be trying to combat plain boredom, or conditions such as depression, isolation or a feeling of decreased self worth,” Chan says. “A lot of people also gamble because they want to provide for their family,” Chan adds.
“Sometimes, it starts with good intentions and quite innocently.
“And when you talk about gambling becoming an addiction you can naturally think of a casino, but it can develop in a variety of ways, from buying lotto tickets, sports betting, or even just playing cards with your friends,” Chan explains.
Whatever the gambling involves it has the potential to quickly become a serious problem as losses mount and the addict can only see continued gaming as a way to repay the losses.
“Even if they understand gambling is risky, it can become the only solution for them once they have lost a significant amount of money,” Chan says. “So, gambling becomes not only the source of the problem but the answer to solving their situation, which currently has an increasing number of outlets.”
With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing public health regulations that closed casinos in B.C., Chan says the opportunity to gamble has not been significantly lessened.
“A lot of people suffering with gambling addiction can easily shift to online gambling,” Chan says.
And that can become an even more tempting option as online gambling can be done from anywhere there is an Internet connection, any time of the day, and there are a multitude of online gambling sites willing to take your wagers.
Thankfully, treatment can be sought, and counselling sessions are available for not just the addict, but their family, too.
“Including family can change the dynamics of counselling by making the gambler more aware of their situation,” Chan says.
“And at the heart of counselling is finding out what they really want to achieve in life,” Chan says. “So, we work on the things they are looking for.”
For more information about how you can benefit from the free counselling sessions for gambling, visit horizoncounselling.ca.