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

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – New data shows that more people are struggling with addiction. Tennessee REDLINE, a 24/7 recovery hotline, saw calls increase 38% from last January.

Gambling addiction, which also includes newly launched online sports betting, saw a whopping 847% increase between January 2020 and January 2021.

The number of online sports betting calls has grown steadily since it launched in November. That number is only expected to increase, especially as the Super Bowl weekend approaches.

Tennessee REDLINE’s Mary Linden Salter said the launch of virtual sports betting during the COVID-19 pandemic was the perfect storm to increase addiction.

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

REDLINE provides support and recovery services for addicts.

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

“It’s four times what we saw before, in many cases,” said Salter. “I find it pretty telling that so many people recognized a problem so early on.”

The REDLINE recorded the highest number of calls in January, spanning all types of addiction.

Salter said gambling goes hand in hand with other types of addiction. She will share the new numbers with policy makers so they can understand the implications.

“Now that it’s legalized, I think it has given the green light to a number of people who might otherwise not have tried and are prone to things like this,” she said.

Before the Super Bowl weekend, Steve Wildsmith of Cornerstone of Recovery is encouraging people to be aware.

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

The officials also provided important advice to anyone who had problems. He said that people should not hide if they are concerned that their friends might be struggling with addiction. And if someone is concerned that they have a problem with gambling or addiction, they shouldn’t ignore it.

You can find more information about the Tennessee REDLINE here.