BHA General FAQ

Yes.  Most gamblers, about 96%, are social gamblers. They are able to:

  • Decide on a loss limit ahead of time and stick to it
  • Never borrow money to gamble
  • Set a time limit
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Balance gambling with other activities
  • Don’t gamble when highly stressed, depressed or troubled in some other way
  • Only gamble with money set aside for entertainment, never with money for everyday expenses.

Some social gamblers are very serious about their gambling.  For example, they go to bingo or poker games every Thursday night, and won't let other things interfere with this. These gamblers are called serious social gamblers. This is similar to people who are serious about working out or playing tennis or golf.  These gamblers gamble regularly, but they are able to quit without showing signs of withdrawal or irritability.

Some gamblers are called at-risk gamblers. This term can refer to people who score 1 or 2 on a gambling screen, such as the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS).  It can mean people who fit certain characteristics. For instance, studies show that teen boys who cut school or smoke cigarettes have a higher incidence of gambling behaviors.  All teen boys who smoke and cut school could be considered “at risk” for gambling problems because this behavior is associated with a higher rate of gambling than the general population.

The term, problem gambler, is used to describe someone who scores 3-4 on the South Oaks Gambling Screen. In a less scientific way, it is also used to describe anyone who has problems because of gambling. See warning signs of a gambling problem.

A person might be considered a compulsive gambler if he or she can answer yes to seven of the 20 Questions from Gambler’s Anonymous (see How do I know if someone has a gambling problem). The word compulsive means an irresistible impulse to act irrationally. The term compulsive gambler implies that a person is unable to control gambling.

Gambling disorder is a term used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fifth edition, (DSM-5) published by the American Psychiatric Association. It is found among Non-Substance Related Disorders, 312.31. There is a list of nine criteria, of which a person must admit to four, to be diagnosed with a gambling disorder.

  • YES: A parent may bring his or her minor child to a provider of outpatient mental health treatment and request that the minor be examined to determine whether the minor has a mental disorder and is in need of treatment. The consent of the minor is not required for evaluation. RCW 71.34.600
  • The professional person may do an assessment to determine whether the minor has a mental disorder and is in need of outpatient treatment. RCW 71.34.600
  • Community mental health centers primarily serve publicly funded clients. If you have private insurance, you may be eligible for services at a community mental health agency or one of your insurer's preferred providers.
  • For publicly funded services, an appointment is necessary.
  • YES: A parent may bring a minor in acute need of inpatient care to an evaluation and treatment (E&T) facility and request that the professional person examine the minor to determine whether the minor has a mental disorder and is in need of inpatient treatment. RCW 71.34.600-660 (1) NOTE: There are very few acute inpatient evaluation and treatment facilities in Washington State. A parent may NOT bring a minor to a CLIP facility for an assessment because CLIP facilities do not provide emergency or urgent care. They only provide long-term inpatient care.
  • The consent of the minor is not required for admission, evaluation, and treatment if the parent brings the minor to the facility. RCW 71.34.600-660(2)
  • A minor cannot be admitted to inpatient treatment unless it is medically necessary as a result of a mental disorder. RCW 71.34.052 (4)
  • Prior approval by the RSN is necessary for all admissions for publicly funded treatment in acute inpatient facilities.

If your adolescent is over thirteen, be aware he or she will be asked to sign a release of information before you can access your adolescent's mental health records. RCW 70.02 and RCW 71.34

WSH Consumer Affairs Office (CAO) provides services to patients at WSH to help them resolve conflict and complaints.  CAO employees and peer specialists advocate for patients and serve as teachers, resource persons and bridges between patient and various agencies.  CAO does not provide legal services or counseling. 

The telephone number for the Consumer Affairs Office is:

253-761-7575 or 1-800-558-4737.

  • YES: The referral process, the prior authorization process, and the process of obtaining consent are the same regardless of who initiates the referral.
    • School district personnel who refer minors to an inpatient treatment program must notify the parents within forty-eight hours. RCW 71.34.500-530.
  • A child in the legal custody of the Division of Children and Family Services may be referred by their Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) social worker. However, the child's parent must provide the consent for the admission. In an emergency and if the parent is unavailable, the social worker may give consent for an inpatient admission. However, a court hearing must occur by the next judicial day and a judge must authorize that emergency consent. A judge cannot order any child into inpatient treatment except in accordance with RCW 71.34.
  • Any minor thirteen years or older who voluntarily admitted to an evaluation and treatment facility with the consent of his/her parents may give notice of intent to leave at any time.
    • The notice has to be written and intent discerned.
    • The professional person must discharge the minor from the facility immediately upon receiving the notice of intent to leave. RCW 71.34.500-530
  • Any minor thirteen years or older who voluntarily admitted to an evaluation and treatment facility without the consent of his/her parents may give notice of intent to leave at any time.
    • The notice has to be written and intent discerned.
    • Copies of the notice shall be sent to the minor's attorney if any, the DMHP  and the parent.
    • The professional person shall discharge the minor by the second judicial day following receipt of the minor's notice of intent to leave. RCW 71.34.500-530
  • Under a “parent-initiated” admission :
    • A minor receiving inpatient treatment cannot be discharged from the facility based solely on his or her request. RCW 71.34.052.
    • The minor admitted under this section may, however petition the superior court for release from the facility. RCW 71.34.052 (6)
  • Minors involuntarily committed for 180 days of inpatient treatment cannot legally sign themselves out of treatment.

Seniors are easily recognizable in gaming venues, but it is unknown if they have a higher rate of gambling problems than other age groups. More information on seniors and gambling (pdf).

  • YES: The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective. Between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • For children and adolescents, research shows improved functioning and school performance, improved quality of life and reduction in violence and self-destructive behaviors.
  • Treatment also decreased recidivism rates for juveniles previously incarcerated in correctional facilities.

Feeling Better
A guide to the mental health system and getting the help you need

Yes.  Research shows that treatment for substance use disorders works to reduce and stop use and the negative consequences.  Addiction is a serious disease that not only harms individuals and families, but the entire community.  The good news is that treatment and recovery programs have provided hope, healing and a new life to thousands of people in Washington and across the nation. 

DBHR invests in treatment services that are evidence-based, and delivered by certified treatment agencies. Certified agencies meet established standards for providing effective services, which includes individual treatment plans to meet specific needs.  Specialized treatment services are available for adolescents, pregnant and parenting women (and their children), members of minority populations, and those with disabilities. 

Treatment also saves public spending on emergency medical care, unemployment and criminal justice. Like any chronic health condition, early and ongoing treatment, and recovery support, are important for long-term health.

The boys are in Pods together, usually by age.  The girls have their own Pods.  Boys and girls do not share a Pod. The one exception is an area of Orcas Cottage called the Close Attention Program (CAP).  There are 7 bedrooms.  The building design is such that each bedroom door is visible from the day area.  Both boys and girls may reside in the Close Attention Program.  Boys and girls are allowed to mix in the day hall, the dining room, daily outings and school.  Normal life goes on but with several watchful eyes.

Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1031 provides funding for prevention and treatment services from Washington’s Lottery, the Washington Horse Racing Commission and recreational gaming licensees. These commissions pay a tax of 0.013% from their gross revenues.  Washington Tribal governments may also voluntarily fund treatment services. 

The DSHS Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery is responsible for planning, implementing, and quality oversight for state-funded prevention and treatment services for problem gambling.  An advisory committee also oversees services.


First, it's important to understand addiction, and treat it with the same urgency as any other chronic and disabling disease. Anyone can develop addiction, but some people are at higher risk, such as those with a family history, and people who begin using alcohol or other drugs before their bodies and brains are developed. Next, help loved ones see that they need help, hold them accountable, and support them throughout treatment. More tips for intervening can be found in this guide: Helping someone who might have a drug or alcohol problem.

You can call the patient - first time callers please call (509) 565-4000

You can write a letter - address it to the patient

You can contact the ward and request that the patient call you - call (509) 565-4000

If your phone number is considered long distance, you can purchase phone cards for your friend or family member for them to use to call you from the hospital.

Contact the hospital’s Public Information Officer by calling 253-582-8900