March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month (NPGAM), and Governor Christie will be signing a Proclamation making March Problem Gambling Awareness Month in New Jersey. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) is an active participant in the national initiative, and Jeff Beck, Assistant Director for Clinical Services, Treatment & Research is the campaign chairperson. The theme this year is “Navigate Problem Gambling”. The National platform is divided into 4 weekly sessions, designed to address basic questions about problem gambling.
Week 1 focuses on defining gambling; defining problem gambling; describing signs of problem gambling; and examining a gambling disorder from an addictions lens. Week 2 explores the impact of problem gambling; why an individual needs to know about problem gambling; how it affects the individual; and who is at risk for a gambling problem. Week 3 focuses on how to gamble responsibly and how to tell if a loved one has a gambling problem. Week 4 focuses on recovery; the role of a Helpline, a counselor, self help groups and resources that are available. Problem Gambling Awareness Month thus incorporates a brief summary of current knowledge about gambling, and why problem gambling is viewed as a public health issue. Materials can be found at WWW.NPGAM.ORG and through the CCGNJ web site at WWW.800GAMBLER.ORG/GAW.
NPGAM is a grassroots campaign. It is aimed at a broad audience, anyone impacted by problem gambling. These materials can be used to inform the discussion, to call attention to the perils of problem gambling and the role we all can play in promoting awareness. Gambling disorders are treatable – people can get well and live productive lives. Many do not seek help due to stigma, i.e., feelings of shame, lack of willpower and moral weakness.
The recognition of gambling disorders as an addiction will, we hope, encourage gamblers and their family members to seek help. March is a great time to talk about this “invisible addiction”, to focus a lens on it, and bring the discussion into public attention.
The great majority of gamblers are termed social gamblers. They are able to limit time and money spent gambling; they gamble with others; it is one of many forms of entertainment; and it does not interfere with other obligations.
There are some people who develop problems with gambling. It can affect them financially, spiritually, cognitively, emotional and legally. It can also affect the family and the job performance.
The month is designed to reach out to those suffering from a gambling addiction and those affected by gambling addiction. CCGNJ will partner with many groups to promote the week. You can follow NPGAM events in New Jersey through the Council website at WWW.800GAMBLER.ORG.