Screening During PGAM Posted On

For Problem Gambling Awareness Month, we put special emphasis on screening. Screening for problem gambling is how we can identify individuals struggling and connect them to the help they need before their condition worsens.  People with gambling problems are likely struggling to maintain health relationships with loved ones, have difficulty prioritizing and holding employment and are often experiencing declining mental health (i.e., anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation). Identifying these individuals through screening and connecting them to care, help them improve the quality of their lives including connections to loved ones, their employment and communities.

Brief Screening

Screening for problem gambling means identifying if gambling could be causing problems in someone’s life. Screening for problem gambling requires answering brief questions focused on feelings and behaviors associated with gambling.

A screening could be done by individuals honestly answering the screening questions, by a family member to see if a loved one’s gambling behavior may be causing problems, or individuals can be screened by a service provider.

Diagnostic Screening

Someone who wants to get screened by a treatment provider or has been referred by a service provider following a brief screen, will make an appointment with a trained professional. The treatment provider will have a list of questions. These questions have been studied vigorously as questions specific to diagnose an individual based on their gambling behavior. These questions are simply seeking information to identify if someone’s gambling behavior fits the diagnosis of gambling addiction.

Available Screenings

The first screen is the simplest one. It is called the Lie-Bet Questionnaire. The Lie-Bet Questionnaire is very simple. It requires someone to answer two questions, which are:

  • Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled?
  • Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?

If an individual answers yes to either one of these questions, they are at risk for struggling with a gambling problem. If they’re at risk for struggling with a gambling problem the next best step would be to contact the Problem Gambling Resource Center to be referred to a treatment provider for further assessment. The treatment providers can help people change their gambling behaviors so they are at minimal risk of problems associated with gambling.

Another screening tool is the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS). Again, if an individual answers yes to anyone of these three questions, they are at risk for developing a gambling problem. The questions are:

  • During the past 12 months, have you become restless, irritable or anxious when trying to cut/stop down on gambling?
  • During the last 12 months, have you tried to keep your family or friends from knowing how much you’ve gambled?
  • During the past 12 months did you have such financial trouble as A result of your gambling that you had to get help with living expenses from family, friends or welfare?

A more in-depth Self-Screening Tool is our new e-Screener. This screening tool offers a total of nine questions that help identify the level of risk an individual may be at with their gambling behavior. It helps them identify whether they’re at low risk, minimal risk, greater risk or high risk of struggling with a gambling problem. Again, the higher the risk, the more important it is for them to decide to seek a treatment provider for a professional screening.

“I answered yes, now what?”

Answering yes to any of the questions can confirm a suspicion or introduce for the first time that gambling may be causing problems for someone.  For anyone who is experiencing problems due to gambling, it is also beneficial to connect with a treatment provider with specialization in problem gambling. Whether or not a person meets the diagnostic criteria, there are services and supports available so they can change their gambling behavior that is causing problems. 

Whether it’s a brief screen on your own, or a full assessment by a treatment provider, it is important to get screened. there are resources available to everyone on the spectrum of gambling behaviors.

Loved Ones at Risk

Many people reading this may be loved ones of someone struggling with a gambling problem. There are resources available to family members and people close to a person with a gambling problem. Family and friends all have the same access to information, resources and services as the individual struggle with a gambling problem. The best way to identify resources or services in any local area is to reach out to the local Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) in your region. The PGRCs are staffed with professionals who are ready and available to offer any resources or services that the individual caller is looking for.

If someone comes across this article but feels uncomfortable making the call, the next best step is to be educated. Learn everything about problem gambling, treatment for problem gambling and recovery from problem gambling. Read e-books and infographics that can offer information and watch videos that can show what problem gambling might look like.  Read additional articles related to specific topics of problem gambling. The more somebody knows about problem gambling the more comfortable they will be reaching out because they’ll have a better understanding of what they’re dealing with.

Article Takeaway

The most important thing is to screen individuals who may be at risk for struggling with a gambling problem. Self-screening tools are a first step, but anyone who shows a risk should seek a treatment provider for a professional screening evaluation.  Contact your local PGRC to learn more.

Professionals Getting Involved

Professionals interested in screening individuals for problem gambling can visit our Problem Gambling Awareness Month webpage for details.  There, professionals will find all the resources necessary to help raise awareness of screening, how to hold a screening event, and simply how to screen individuals for problem gambling. We welcome all professionals to screen and connect individuals in need to services, which helps individuals struggling, their loved ones and the community as a whole.