2008-03-07 15:38:21.83

Problem Gambling Week Heightens Awareness

Problem gambling awareness in Missouri will be promoted through radio advertising prior to and during the week of Problem Gambling Awareness Week, March 9-15.  The radio advertising to promote Missouri’s problem-gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), will highlight Missouri’s participation in the sixth annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Week.
To help build awareness during Problem Gambling Awareness Week, the Missouri Department of Mental Health teamed with Missourinet to air radio advertisements.   An ad also was placed in Rural Missouri, a monthly publication with a circulation of more than 490,000.
Started by the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) six years ago, the awareness week is designed to educate the general public and health care professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and raise awareness about the help that is available both locally and nationally.
During the national awareness week, communities nationwide are working to increase the recognition of the consequences of problem gambling and the resources available for individuals whose gambling is causing disruption in their lives. 
"Research shows that approximately 2 to 3 percent of the U.S. population has a gambling problem in any given year, but only a very small fraction of those individuals seek help, including treatment and self-help recovery programs," said Nora Bock, mental health manager with the Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
According to Bock, Missouri offers free problem gambling counseling to Missouri residents, for both problem gamblers and their loved ones.
"I think it’s tremendously important for people who are experiencing problems related to their gambling to seek treatment," Bock said.  "Not everyone requires intensive or extensive treatment.  However, seeking the support and counsel of a professional may help the person become more knowledgeable about the addiction, as well as develop skills for managing life issues related to problem gambling.  Professional counselors can also help the person find resources for ongoing support and offer therapeutic services to family members who are quite likely impacted by their loved one’s behavior."
 Alliance Chairman Gary Gonder said that Problem Gambling Awareness Week in March and Missouri’s Responsible Gaming Awareness Month in August help to raise awareness about problem gambling and resources available to problem gamblers and their loved ones.
"Throughout the year, the Alliance promotes the availability of free treatment, but participating in the national effort this week provides us with an opportunity to further educate Missouri residents about problem-gambling issues and that help is just a phone call away,” Gonder said

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