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More Help for Problem Gamblers in Minnesota

You don’t have a gambling problem. You don’t even know anyone who has a gambling problem. So just ignore this and go to the next article. After this one question:

Did you know that of all addictions, problem gamblers have the highest suicide rate? Maybe you did. Yet, some people don’t even think it’s a “real addiction.” I have to wonder if they ever met a “real problem gambler.” One who is on their way down. After they started losing. And running out of ways to keep others from finding out. And couldn’t stop. And kept gambling. And spent every cent they had. And/or started borrowing and/or stealing. And got caught. Or didn’t. Yet kept on gambling. Then were hit in the face when others found out.

The cat was out of the bag. Have you ever tried to put the cat back in the bag?

You were forced to do…something. So, you begrudgingly started going to G.A. (Gamblers Anonymous). Well,… once. Then you went back to gambling. Experienced more of the above. Went back to GA. Started to turn things around. For a while. And then, The-Great-Back-and-Forth-Up-and-Down-Round-and-Round. Relentless. Never-ending. Until…that night. Or that early morning.

riving home. No, just…driving. Squinting against the relentless sunrise. And your chest is exploding and caving in at the same time.

And this time, when you let go of the wheel…you don’t grab it again.

What we, in the field of addiction and recovery services, have learned is that scare tactics don’t work. Threats don’t work. Education (alone) doesn’t work (for long). What works? What would work for you? What hasn’t worked at all in the past? What has worked for a while? Does the bottom have to hit you? Trust me when I say, it doesn’t have to.

I know this, as I have been on both sides. I was problem gambler, and someone who loved a problem gambler, and, both at the same time, and had to (almost) lose it all. Somehow, I’m still here.

No, I don’t have all the answers. Yours are for you to figure out. But I do get it. Enough to promise no guarantees. Enough to offer an opportunity. To take a closer look. For the first time. Or again.

Feel free to give me a call. Let’s talk. Because one approach doesn’t fit all, and this addiction is a deadly one. Once you do decide to get help, I am living proof that you can get help, and your life will get better.


Martin Phillips, LADC, CBIS, is an Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and Vinland National Center’s Outpatient Problem Gambling Program (VOPG) certified gambling counselor. He can be reached at 763-479-4559.


Vinland was grateful for The Phoenix Spirit’s coverage on Problem Gambling last month, and because we started offering help for problem gamblers at our Outpatient location in NE Minneapolis as of July 1, 2019, we want to share some of the knowledge we have gained from our colleagues in the field as well as from the process we went through to establish this program through the state of Minnesota. We’re sure the general public within the state of MN is not aware of the following information that one should know when looking into treatment for problem gambling:

Some insurance plans do pay for problem gambling assessments and therapy. But did you know that the MN Department of Human Services (DHS) will ensure that all will be allowed problem gambling treatment regardless of one’s ability to pay? DHS will pay for inpatient and outpatient problem gambling services for residents who qualify for help, as well providing a 24 hour helpline, public awareness programs, counselor training, and problem gambling prevention programs. These services are funded through legislative action and the funding comes from various gambling functions such as lottery revenues, charitable gambling services, and contributions from the Indian gaming community.

As we all understand, those with problem gambling addictions have very tenuous financial situations, so the state of Minnesota believes the ability to pay for needed treatment should not be a barrier to realizing a better life free from problem gambling. If you answer yes to these two questions below, please use the resources provided in this article to seek additional help:

Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled? Yes or No.
Have you ever felt the need to bet more money? Yes or No.

Resources for problem gambling

Call or text 1-800-333-HOPE – a 24 hour Problem Gambling helpline that is answered 24 hrs a day, 7 days per week. You can also chat at ncpgambling.org/chat.

  • Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) getgamblinghelp.com
  • Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance. Northstarproblemgambling.org or info@northstarproblemgambling.org.An amazing, relentless group of advocates for those in need of help from problem gambling.
  • Project Turnabout/Vanguard residential gambling addiction program – 320-564-4911, 660 18th Street Granite Falls, MN 56241 www.projectturnabout.org
  • Vinland National Center’s Outpatient Problem Gambling Program -763.479.4881, 675 Stinson Blvd, Suite 200, Minneapolis, MN
  • Gamblers Anonymous (www.gamblersanonymous.org)

It is our hope that this helps at least one person with a gambling problem find help locally. It’s out there if you just reach for it.


Don Raasch, MA, LADC, Certified Brain Injury Specialist Vinland National Center, Outpatient Services Manager, 675 Stinson Blvd., Minneapolis, MN. 763.479.4560

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