March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month
Odds are you know someone who has experienced problem or compulsive gambling.
According to the North American Foundation for Gambling Addiction Help, the United States is in the top list of countries, where a huge part of the population (2.6 percent or almost 10 million people) has an addiction problem because of gambling. These activities are represented in every state, even those states where gambling is restricted.
Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jen Smith was joined on Thursday in Harrisburg by individuals in recovery, stakeholders, advocates, and community members to kick off statewide activities during the month of March in observance of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
“We come together today to promote awareness of problem gambling and highlight community resources for individuals in need,” said DDAP Secretary Jennifer Smith. “As legalized gambling expands and becomes more prevalent around the commonwealth, we urge individuals and their loved ones to recognize when a recreational hobby becomes a more serious problem. Understanding that treatment and resources are available can help in having conversations with loved ones in need.”
Gambling, even through legal avenues, becomes a problem when individuals begin to develop strained relationships with loved ones, borrow money to gamble, gamble to see a high or feeling, miss work, school, or other activities and obligations in order to gamble. These behaviors can have a serious impact on a person’s financial, physical, and mental health. Other symptoms of problem gambling include trying to hide or lying about gambling, using gambling as an escape to avoid dealing with others problems and feeling like the habit is out of control but is unable to stop.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of National Problem Gambling Awareness Month as recognized by the National Council on Problem Gambling. To commemorate, this year’s theme is Awareness + Action. The goals of the national campaign are to increase public awareness of problem gambling and the availability of treatment and recovery services and to encourage health care providers to screen clients for problem gambling.
DDAP was joined by Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania. Together, the agencies fund and operate the Pennsylvania Problem Gambling 24 hour a day, 365 days a year confidential helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537). More resources, including 24-hour chat services, are also available at www.pacouncil.com.
For more information on how to recognize the warning signs of a gambling problem and to find treatment options around Pennsylvania, visit www.ddap.pa.gov, or call 1-800-GAMBLER.