Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling


Alcohol, drugs, and gambling can be dangerous and costly to the person involved, his or her family, and the workplace. Some of the substances that are considered addictive include alcohol, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, marijuana, tranquilizers, and some prescription drugs. Substance use becomes abuse when it is habitual and interferes with a person’s functioning at work or in a relationship.

If you (or someone close to you at home or at work) are worried about the effects of alcohol or drugs, ask yourself:

  • Have you ever tried to cut down your use of alcohol/drugs?
  • Have you ever been angry with someone who has criticized your use?
  • Have you ever felt guilty about your use?
  • Have you ever had an “eye-opener” (a morning use of substance to reduce the effects of hangover/shakes, headaches, thirst, or craving)
  • Have you had blackouts?
  • Have you missed work, been late, or left early because of your substance use?
  • Have you ever been arrested for driving under the influence (DWI or DUI)?

If you (or the person you are thinking about) can answer yes to any of these questions, you may want to speak with a professional about options for treatment. Please contact please contact BMC Employee Assistance office (for BMC employees) at 1-800-435-1986, or BU Faculty Staff Assistance Office (for BU employees) at 617-353-5381 to arrange an appointment or to speak with someone about your concerns.


With casinos and games everywhere, gambling is now a legitimate and socially acceptable form of recreation, and advancing technology means more accessible ways to gamble. “Day-trading” and other online games are prevalent.

Pathological gambling is an often-hidden disease. It also coexists with other addictive problems such as alcohol or drug use, as these substances enhance the experience for the gambler. It affects the victim and his or her family, friends, and coworkers, similar to other diseases of addiction. The compulsion to gamble is more common among the young, the poor, and the poorly educated, as they have more limited ways to acquire the wealth so visible in our society. Gambling costs are enormous; families can be impoverished and destroyed.

20 QUESTIONS: Do you (or someone close to you) worry that you might have a gambling problem?

  • Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
  • Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  • Did gambling affect your reputation?
  • Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  • Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  • Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  • After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  • After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  • Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
  • Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  • Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  • Were you reluctant to use “gambling money” for normal expenditures?
  • Did gambling make you careless of your welfare or the welfare of your family?
  • Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
  • Have you ever gambled to escape worry or trouble?
  • Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  • Did gambling cause you to have difficulty sleeping?
  • Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create an urge to gamble within you?
  • Did you ever have an urge to celebrate some good fortune with a few hours of gambling?
  • Have you ever considered self-destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of the above questions.

20 Questions courtesy of Gamblers Anonymous. For more information please view their website.

If you answered yes to at least seven of these questions, or if you have concerns about these or any other issues, please contact BMC Employee Assistance office (for BMC employees) at 1-800-435-1986, or BU Faculty Staff Assistance Office (for BU employees) at 617-353-5381. Both EAP and FSAO are free, confidential benefits for Boston Medical Center/Boston University employees and their families.



  • Employee Assistance Office – (Password: LMEAP)confidential counseling via toll-free phone line or in person for BMC employees and eligible dependents.


  • Faculty and Staff Assistance Office – free, confidential counseling and referral service for faculty, staff and their families with locations on both Medical and Charles River campuses

Off Campus:

  • Social Work Therapy Referral Service – free, confidential telephone referral service that provides professional, personalized counseling referrals matched for location, specialty and insurance or fee requirements. 800-242-9794
  • STEP Boston (at North Station) – provides outreach and recovery support in Boston for people with addictions. 617-720-7837
  • Eliot Community Human Services and Tri-City Mental Health – private non-profit human service agency that provides a range of substance abuse services, and more. 781-596-9260
  • Physician Health Services – confidential consultation and support to physicians, residents and medical students facing concerns related to substance/alcohol abuse, behavioral and mental health issues, and physical illness. 800-322-2303