20 years of gambling addiction recovery in West Virginia: resources still available during pandemic

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HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) – You might recognize the 24/7 1-800-GAMBLER helpline. But what happens beyond the first phone call?

For 20 years, the operator of the helpline First Choice Services has been offering free resources to those who need it the most.

With more websites making it easier for people to gamble from the comfort of their homes, those struggling with compulsive gambling addiction are finding it harder to resist.

First Choice Services marketing director Sheila Moran says the dangers of compulsive gambling online are very real.

It’s a very different gambling landscape. The more electronic machines make it a little bit easier for people as you can imagine, just like most of us are sometimes glued to our phones and tablets.

Sheila Moran, First Choice Services marketing director

But the main problem isn’t just accessibility. Hurricane, West Virginia resident Kelly McFadden says she struggled with gambling addiction off and on for several years. McFadden says in her spare time she would go out to play slot machines and table games.

I started doing escape gambling is what I did. I got to the point where I was miserable, my home life was miserable, and I was spending money that I didn’t need to be spending.

Kelly McFadden, Hurricane, WV resident

McFadden says there are many just like her who recognized the problem and seek help.

According to Moran, they receive between “500 to 1,000 calls a year” and that’s only considering those who made the call. Moran says “most people with a gambling addiction don’t call us.”

Mcfadden says she is celebrating more than four years without gambling. For anyone struggling with the same problem, she says recovery is not impossible.

When you get into recovery, you eventually don’t want to go because you know it’s not good for you.

Kelly McFadden, Hurricane, WV resident

For more information about gambling addiction services and the current options for recovery in the mountain state, click here.

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