What it is
Gambling is any activity in which a person risks money (or something of value) on an event that has an uncertain outcome. A variety of gambling activities—slot machines, VLTs, card games, lottery tickets, and games of skill—are available to Canadians, both online and offline. People often gamble to win prizes, socialize or pass the time, or to support a charity or fundraising event. Gambling is legal in Canada. While most people who gamble do it without developing problems, it does pose potential risks and health concerns.
Signs of a possible problem
Problem gambling is not just about losing money. Gambling can affect a person’s whole life. You—or a loved one—may experience problems in any of the following ways.
- missing family events
- changing patterns of sleep, eating, or sex
- ignoring self-care, work, school
- neglecting kids
- often late for work or school
- gone for long, unexplained periods of time
- mood swings or sudden outbursts of anger
- boredom or restlessness
- depressed or suicidal
- borrowing or stealing money
- taking a second job without a change in finances
- cashing in savings accounts
- alternating between being broke and flashing money
- stomach and bowel problems
- difficulty sleeping
- overeating or loss of appetite
Risks include spending more money than you intended to spend, falling behind at work due to time spent gambling, conflict with loved ones, and feeling hopeless, anxious and/or depressed.
Lowering the risk
Plan ahead for exactly how much money you’re able to spend. Set a time limit before you start and stick to this time limit by setting an alarm or having someone pick you up at that time. Use only money you can afford to lose—that is, money you’ve set aside for entertainment purposes (not for bills or food). Only gamble socially. Understand your odds of winning. Keep very close track on how much time and money you are spending. Take frequent breaks. Be aware of your motivation for gambling—if you are feeling lonely, sad or anxious, remind yourself that gambling will not help these problems in the long term (and may worsen them).
When to seek help
Gambling is a problem if it negatively affects your life, or the life of someone you care about—such as the signs listed above. Treatment, including counselling, is available to Nova Scotians affected by gambling. Counselling can help people understand why they gamble, so they can stop, cut down, or change their gambling habits.
SMART Recovery - Self-Management And Recovery TrainingSMART Recovery - Self-Management And Recovery Training
Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) is a global community of mutual-support groups. At meetings, participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction (to drugs or alcohol or to activities such as gambling or over-eating)...
Wellness Together CanadaWellness Together Canada
Wellness Together Canada is a mental health and substance use website to support people across Canada and Canadians living abroad in both official languages. They provide the following resources for you at no cost:
- Immediate text support
Mental Health 101The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Knowledge is power. This series of free online tutorials is a starting point for learning about mental health. You can come away with a greater understanding of the mental health concern you are interested in knowing more about. The tutorials can...
Gambling Support NetworkGovernment of Nova Scotia
Five easy steps that you can take to help decide if you need to change the way you gamble. Options include text message/SMS motivational support, secure chat, group forums, online calculator and more.
Access Wellness Nova Scotia
Access Wellness is a free single-session supportive counselling service for individuals, couples or families.
Sessions can be held over the phone, online with video, or in-person. People can speak with a qualified professional and learn...
Recovery Support Centre
The Recovery Support Centre is a welcoming space that provides education, recovery and harm reduction support, along with one on one support and group treatment for people struggling with substance use and/or gambling concerns.
IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program
The IWK Mental Health and Addictions Program provides specialized care throughout the province for children and youth up until their 19th birthday within a patient and family...
The Marguerite Centre
The Marguerite Centre provides a holistic, women-centred approach to recovery from substance misuse and gambling addiction. We are an inclusive, safe, non-judgmental...
Gambling Support Network
Gambling Support Network: A confidential, dedicated, toll-free telephone service available to all Nova Scotians. Provided by Nova Scotia Health and Wellness, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.
Eskasoni Mental Health
Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor...
Caregivers Nova Scotia
Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.
211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services
Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...
Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service
Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...
Families Matter in Mental Health
Families Matter in Mental Health is an 11-week education and support program for family or friends who are providing practical and/or emotional support to someone who has a...
The Wellness Program is an ongoing, client-focused program that is based on what the client or group of clients want to work on that day. There is no waitlist or referral...
Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.
Wellness Court Programs are specialty or problem-solving courts, where a team of professionals helps treat the issues contributing to the individual coming into conflict with...
Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Program
Seniors mental health services provide assessment, consultation and treatments to:
- seniors aged 65 and older for a new onset of mental health challenges
- individuals of...
School Mental Health (SchoolsPlus)
The school mental health clinicians provide individual and group therapy, mental health and addictions education for school staff and consultation services. Clinicians are on...
Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic
The Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic (NSOSIC) belongs to a national network of OSI Clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada. The clinic provides mental health...
Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line
The Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line provides crisis intervention for children, youth and adults experiencing a mental health crisis or mental distress.
First Nations Services
Mental Health clinicians work as part of the first nations health care team in several first nations communities. The Mental Health Clinician provides assessment, diagnosis...
Community Support Service (Adults)
The Community Support Teams for Adults/Community Supports for Adults supports individuals living with persistent mental illness to develop and maintain a safe, satisfying...
Adult Community Mental Health and Addictions Services
Community Mental Health and Addictions includes a team of mental health and addictions professionals who provide services on an outpatient basis. The team provides assessment...
Child and Adolescent Services
Child and Adolescent Services/Child Youth and Family/Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinical Services provide mental health and addiction services to children and youth...
Adolescent Outreach Services
Adolescent Outreach Services (AOS) is an expansion of the CaperBase model, which originated in Cape Breton. AOS focuses on providing:
- Brief and Early Intervention
- Community Partnerships
The AOS model is set up for youth...