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Pennsylvania Observes Problem Gambling Awareness Month

The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs recognizes March as National Problem Gambling Awareness month.
The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs recognizes March as National Problem Gambling Awareness month.

The goal is to educate the public and health care providers about problem gambling warning signs and where to turn for help.

In Pennsylvania, gambling addiction affects approximately 319,000 individuals of all ages, races, and ethnic backgrounds and in all communities.

“For most individuals, gambling is harmless, but for those with a gambling addiction, it is a behavioral disorder that disrupts and individual’s life and the lives of the people around them,” said Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary Tennis. “We encourage Pennsylvanians to know the risks associated with gambling and that treatment is available to those with gambling addiction.”

The warning signs of a gambling addiction include:

* Denying there is a problem;
* Lying about where the money is going;
* Borrowing money to gamble or pay off debts;
* Missing work to gamble;
* Losing touch with friends; and/or
* Looking for the "high" that comes from gambling.

Most individuals with problem gambling answer yes to one of the following two questions:

* Have you ever had to lie to people important to you about how much you gambled?
* Have you ever felt the need to bet more and more money?

“Without intervention, problem gambling can progress to financial hardships, relationship problems, criminal activity and job loss,” said Tennis. “Treatment is available and treatment with clinical integrity works.”

DDAP has approved 85 problem gambling treatment providers across the state that offer counseling services to those in need. No-cost training and case consultation is also provided to clinicians seeking to enhance their skills in the treatment of problem gambling.

The Pennsylvania Gambling Helpline in fiscal year 2013, received approximately 16,000 calls that included: problem gambling intake for slots, other casino games, card games, lottery, horse racing, video poker, sports betting and internet gambling. Callers included men and women of all age groups from teens through seniors. Similar to prior years, individuals most frequently reported why they called the help line as being: financial, family/marital and mental health issues.

During March, DDAP together with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, Inc., the Pennsylvania Lottery, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic as sponsors, will hold two conferences dealing with problem gambling during March.

The first conference, “A New Look: Innovative Approaches to Prevention, Treatment and Other Resources,” will be held March 11 in Trevose, Bucks County. The second conference, “Explorations: New Ways of Addressing Gambling Disorder,” is slated for March 14 in Pittsburgh. For more information on these events, visit the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, Inc. online at www.pacouncil.com.

Additionally, a booth to raise awareness of problem gambling and available resources will be in the following locations on the following dates:

* March 5 and 6; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. - Strawberry Square Atrium, Harrisburg
* March 19 and 20; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg

To seek help or for more information about Problem Gambling, visit www.paproblemgambling.com or call 1-877-565-2112.
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