Habit hotline sees regarding enhance in requires gambling, sports activities betting assist

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“This is a big weekend,” officials said. “Reach out to your support network if you have one, stay in contact with people who hold you accountable.”

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — New data shows that more people are struggling with addiction. The Tennessee REDLINE, a 24/7 hotline for recovery, saw a 38% increase in calls when comparing last January to this January. 

For gambling addiction, which includes newly launched online sports betting, there was a whopping 847% increase between January 2020 and January 2021.

Numbers for online sports betting calls have been steadily increasing since its launch in November. That number is only expected to grow, especially with Super Bowl weekend approaching. 

Virtual sports betting launching during the COVID-19 pandemic created the perfect storm to increase addiction, according to Mary Linden Salter with Tennessee REDLINE. 

“People are at home, working at home, they feel isolated,” she said. 

The REDLINE provides support and recovery services for addiction. 

Before sports betting was legal, numbers were low or nonexistent. Now officials said that they are concerned about the rise in calls for help with addiction.

“It is quadruple, in many cases, compared with what we’ve seen previously,” said Salter. “For that many more people to have recognized a problem this early on, I think is pretty telling.”

The REDLINE saw its highest number of calls in January, which includes all types of addictions. 

Salter said gambling goes hand in hand with other kinds of addictions. She’ll be sharing the new numbers with policymakers so they understand its impact. 

“Now that it’s legalized I think it’s given the green light to a whole bunch of people who might not have otherwise would have tried it and are vulnerable to those kinds of things,” she said. 

Ahead of Super Bowl weekend, Steve Wildsmith with Cornerstone of Recovery encourages people to be aware. 

“This is a big weekend,” she said. “Reach out to your support network if you have one, stay in contact with people who hold you accountable.”

Officials also shared important advice for anyone struggling. He said that people shouldn’t hide if they’re concerned their friends may be struggling with addiction. And if anybody is concerned they have a problem with gambling or any kind of addiction, they shouldn’t ignore it.

You can find more information about the Tennessee REDLINE here.