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Making a referral

There are many reasons why people with gambling problems do not get help. Recent research has revealed that many people in need of help in Canada are unaware that specialized problem-gambling counselling services are available. Other people initially refuse help because they are ambivalent about giving up their gambling, concerned about what might happen in counselling, or afraid of being stigmatized. Still others have not made the connection between their current difficulties and their gambling behaviour.

As a primary care worker, you can address these concerns and provide accurate information about what happens in problem gambling counselling and what services are available.

Specialized problem-gambling services are available in many communities across Canada. To find out about services in your area, go to the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline and find the Problem Gambling Helpline number or website link for your province. Through the helpline, you should be directed to your local treatment providers.

Many referrals to outpatient treatment programs are self-referrals and require the patient to call directly. Other inpatient or residential treatment programs require a referral from a counselor and/or family physician.

Special populations

People of diverse backgrounds can be affected and at risk for problem gambling. There are treatment programs that provide specialized services for women, older adults and various ethno-cultural groups in various languages. Your local problem gambling helpline should have information on these services, if available.