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Western Problem Gambling Resource Center

June 10, 2021 - 10:58am

Press release:

Happy Pride Month! June is established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals have had on the world. LGBTQIA+ groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings.

It’s also important to recognize that the LGBTQIA+ community has been impacted by various mental health issues, including problem gambling. Problem gambling is anytime someone’s life is negatively impacted by their gambling habits. This could be financial struggles, relationship or partner issues, conflicts with work and school, and even translating to criminal behavior.

Unfortunately, there is limited research on the prevalence of gambling addiction among the LGBTQIA+ community. However, the information that is available does suggest that there is a correlation between problem gambling and those who identify as gay, bisexual, and transgender.

A 2006 U.S. study reports that 21 percent of 105 men seeking treatment for problem gambling identified as gay or bisexual. That percentage is seven times higher than the (reported) rate of gay and bisexual men in the general population (21 percent as opposed to 3 percent), raising the possibility that gay/bi men might be at increased risk for problem gambling (Grant, JE, and Potenza, MN, 2006).

Additionally, a 2015 Australian study reports that 20.2 percent of 69 LGBT participants met DSM V criteria for gambling disorder. Pub/slot games (58 percent) and scratch-offs (43 percent) were most common about LGBTI populations. The amount spent ranged from $1 - $3K per month. Reasons were “because it is fun” and “because I like the feeling.”

The most important takeaway from these limited studies is that it’s important to have a comprehensive screening system in place for all individuals receiving treatment for problem gambling, especially screening specifically for LGBTQIA+ folks who are already in care or seeking treatment for mental health or chemical dependency needs.

First and foremost, establishing a safe environment for clients should be a normalized step within all counseling and therapy-related practices. Secondly, help is available for problem gambling no matter how you identify.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is excited to promote our clinicians who are experienced in treating LGBTQIA+ individuals, as well as have training in cultural humility. Below are some barrier-free options the Western PGRC offers our community:

  1. In person or teletherapy counseling (individual or couples therapy)
  2. Connection to Gambler’s Anonymous or Gam-Anon
  3. Online family support group
  4. Guidance through the NYS Casino Self-Exclusion Program
  5. Online tools and resources, including self-assessment screening
  6. Connection to statewide inpatient and outpatient treatment services

To get started, call the Western PGRC at (716) 833-4274 or email [email protected]

For more information, visit https://nyproblemgamblinghelp.org/.

April 13, 2021 - 4:37pm

Press release:

This month, New York passed the legalization of mobile sports betting. Although leaders believe this will have a positive economic impact for New York State, potentially closing the budget deficit over time, increasing the availability and accessibility of gambling options may cause problems for those at risk.

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center maintains a neutral stance on gambling; however, we want the community to know there is a local, confidential resource available if you or someone you know is struggling to control their gambling.

Problem gambling is simply anytime someone’s gambling causes problems in their life. These could be financial or relationship problems, issues at work or school, some people have even resorted to criminal activity to support their gambling problem.

Let’s look at a few problem gambling facts:

  • Each person struggling with problem gambling affects 6-10 of those closest to them.
  • A study found that nine out of 10 people affected by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress, (Nash et al, 2018).
  • One in five persons struggling with a gambling problem have attempted and/or died by suicide. 

Because as many as 10 other individuals are impacted by one person’s gambling problem, a person’s mental and physical health could certainly be impacted.

It is important to recognize the warning signs of problem gambling. We can not simply pick a person struggling with gambling problems out of a crowd. So, what are some warning signs can we look for?

  • Being absent from friend/family events because of gambling.
  • Feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling.
  • Low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with betting.
  • Lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling.
  • Chasing losses to “get even."

Services for those persons struggling with problem gambling are available in WNY. Friends and family of those impacted by problem gambling are also encouraged to reach out for support. Local, confidential, and free help is available through the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center.

For more information: Call (716) 833-4274 or email:   [email protected] visit www.nyproblemgamblingHELP.org/Western

Western PGRC is “Here to Help."

January 4, 2021 - 4:40pm
posted by Press Release in Western Problem Gambling Resource Center, news.

Press release:

The new year symbolizes fresh starts and new beginnings. People use January as a benchmark to reprioritize their lives, and with the unique challenges that last year brought, many of us are looking ahead with even more fervor.

Something that 2020 brought clearly into focus is the importance of mental wellness. A variety of factors can impact mental health, including thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Problems related to gambling can influence each of those components. If gambling, yours or someone else’s, has negatively affected you, know that you are not alone and there is support.

Nearly 668,000 New Yorkers have experienced a gambling problem in the past year. The effects can include sleep issues, strain on relationships with loved ones, financial problems and increased alcohol or drug use. People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for other mental health problems. Two out of three individuals reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling. Gambling disorder may also occur with other existing conditions like anxiety, depression, mood disorder or personality disorder.

Emotional and psychological distress is not exclusive to just the person gambling either – each of those individuals can affect up to 10 of the closest people in their lives. A study found that nine out of 10 people impacted by someone else’s gambling problems felt emotional distress. Between the people gambling and their close friends and family, nearly 6.7 million New Yorkers are affected by problem gambling and may experience mental health issues because of it.

Most importantly, help is available if you or someone you love has been exhibiting warning signs of a gambling problem, such as being absent from activities with friends or loved ones because of gambling; feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling; low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with gambling; or lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling. January is a great time to reach out to the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC).

The Western PGRC is here to help anyone who is looking to reprioritize their lives and overcome the problems that gambling has caused. Private-practice counselors, behavioral health and treatment facilities, recovery groups and other community services throughout Western New York make up a vast referral network.

When people call (716) 833-4274 or email [email protected], they confidentially connect with a knowledgeable PGRC staff person who will listen to and connect them with the resources that best meet their needs.

Whether you are ready to get help, or you are just curious about your options, call us today. We’re here to help.

October 20, 2020 - 1:53pm

Press release:

Problem gambling may not be a common topic discussed this month -- Domestic Violence Awareness Month; however, the link between domestic violence and problem gambling makes it important to bring awareness to this volatile relationship.

Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner, which may include physical violence; sexual, psychological, social, or financial abuse; harassment; and stalking.

A recent study of help-seeking gamblers found that 49 percent of participants reported being a victim of violence and 43 percent had perpetrated violence (Bellringer et al., 2017).

A person with a gambling problem may experience intense mental and emotional distress which may be expressed through restlessness, irritability or violence. Someone’s gambling problem may also elicit similar distress from a loved one. The person gambling may be the perpetrator or victim of domestic violence. 

Furthermore, there is already evidence that domestic violence increases during professional sporting events due to the emotions experienced from a “home team’s” upset loss, citing issues like consumption of alcohol, increased interactions with family during games, increased expectations for a positive outcome, and increased stress and anxiety.

Our community, the state and the country are seeing increased availability and prevalence of sports gambling, daily fantasy sports, and the like. What happens when those high stakes are further intensified by having large sums of money on the line, potentially for multiple sporting events? 

In many ways, this October is unlike any in the past, but some things remain constant – there are many people who will isolate themselves out of fear or shame and will not reach out for the help they need. Domestic Violence Awareness Month gives us an opportunity to offer hope to those experiencing violence in the home. 

Problem gambling and domestic violence can impact anyone. If you are experiencing domestic violence or problem gambling, confidential services are available:

  • Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Western Problem Gambling Resource Center: (716) 0833-4274

The Western Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) is a program of the New York Council on Problem Gambling dedicated to addressing the issue of problem gambling within New York State. The vision of the PGRC is the positive transformation of lives harmed by problem gambling.

The PGRC focuses efforts on increasing public awareness of problem gambling; connecting clients with treatment, recovery and support services; working with the gaming industry to promote responsible gambling; and promoting healthy lifestyles, which foster freedom from problem gambling.

Visit www.NYProblemGamblingHELP.org to learn more about the PGRC network.  

Jeffrey Wierzbicki – Western PGRC Team Leader

Angela DiRosa – Western Program Manager

September 16, 2020 - 1:30pm

By Colleen Jones for Western Problem Gambling Resource Center:

According to the CDC (CDC, 2020) suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States. This is a concerning statistic and many people struggle with their mental health every day. There are many factors that may lead someone to think that suicide is the only option, but have you ever thought about problem gambling as a source of emotional distress for someone? 

There are many people who struggle with problem gambling in the United States. It is estimated that 2 million adults in the United States meet the criteria for gambling disorder, with another 4-6 million people in the United States struggling with problem gambling (National Council on Problem Gambling, 2020). 

For many people, they can gamble and not have a problem. However, for some, gambling can cause problems in their lives. Problem gambling is anytime gambling causes problems or negative consequences in someone’s life. Gambling disorder is a diagnosis by a qualified, trained professional determined by the criteria set forth in the DSM5. 

According to the DSM5, a diagnosis of gambling disorder requires at least four of the following during the past year: 

  1. Need to gamble with increasing amount of money to achieve the desired excitement.
  2. Restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling.
  3. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back on or stop gambling.
  4. Frequent thoughts about gambling (such as reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next gambling venture, thinking of ways to get money to gamble).
  5. Often gambling when feeling distressed.
  6. After losing money gambling, often returning to get even (referred to as “chasing” one’s losses).
  7. Lying to conceal gambling activity.
  8. Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job or educational/career opportunity because of gambling.
  9. Relying on others to help with money problems caused by gambling.

It is important to remember that while all those with a gambling disorder are experiencing problem gambling, not all those struggling with problem gambling have a diagnosable gambling disorder. Whether someone is struggling with problem gambling or gambling disorder, they are at risk of having the negative consequences from gambling seep out into their everyday lives. These effects may not only impact the person struggling with gambling, but also impact their loved ones. 

People who struggle with problem gambling are also at a higher risk for struggling with other mental health disorders. Two out of three gamblers reported that their mental health suffered as a result of their gambling problems.

In addition to struggling with gambling, they may be struggling with other mental health problems such as a mood disorders like depression, personality disorder, and anxiety. Someone struggling with their gambling may be cashing in retirement funds, college funds, or taking out additional credit cards and loans. These impacts can cause someone to feel hopeless, desperate and alone.

These negative effects can take a toll on one's mental health. Sadly, problem gambling has the highest suicide rate among all addictions. When we look at suicide in the United States, 3.9 percent of the adult population have suicidal ideations and 0.6 percent attempt suicide each year (CDC, 2015). While this statistic is alarming, we find that for problem gamblers, the concern continues to grow.

It has been found that 37 percent of those struggling with problem gambling and 49 percent of those with a pathological Gambling Disorder have suicidal ideations. Statistics also show that 17 percent of problem gamblers and 18 percent of those with a Gambling Disorder attempt suicide. This rate is much higher than the general population, and we believe it’s important to raise awareness of this issue through educating community providers and clients. 

Problem gambling is often referred to as “the hidden addiction” because there are no physical warning signs to “test for” problem gambling. It can be very difficult to spot, so it may be difficult to know if someone is struggling with this and may be having suicidal ideations. While there are no physical signs, there are still signs to look for if you think someone may be struggling with a gambling problem.

Some things to look for are: 

  • being absent from friend/family events because of gambling;
  • feeling stressed or anxious when not gambling;
  • low work performance due to absence or preoccupation with betting; and
  • lying to family and friends about how much money and time is spent on gambling;
  • relying on others to get out of debt, asking for loans or bailouts;
  • using money needed for necessary expenses, such as food, rent, or medication for gambling.

While we cannot physically test for problem gambling, there are screening and diagnostic tools that can be used to initiate a conversation about gambling. A common tool to use is the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen, or the BBGS. It is a simple three question screen that consists of yes or no answers.

  1. During the past 12 months, have you become restless, irritable or anxious when trying to cut down on gambling? 
  2. During the past 12 months, have you tried to keep your family or friends from knowing how much you gambled? 
  3. During the past 12 months, did you have such financial trouble as a result of your gambling that you had to get help with living expenses from family, friends or welfare?

If you, someone you know, or a client you work with answers yes to any of these questions, it may be time to start talking about problem gambling.

Problem gambling can affect anyone at any point in their lives and can impact friends and families of those struggling with their gambling. It can develop into a gambling disorder, which leads to damaged relationships with loved ones, difficulty at work, and financial problems.

These problems can be detrimental to an individual's mental health. It is important that we start to realize the importance of talking about problem gambling, and what impacts it may have on individuals.

If we take the time to educate ourselves and start the conversation, we can help break the stigma and shame out of problem gambling and get those struggling the help that they need.

If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, they can visit NYProblemGamblingHELP.org/Western or call (716) 833-4274 to find out more and get connected to resources.

April 3, 2020 - 11:56am

Press release:

Isolation due to the COVID-19 can be especially difficult for those struggling with gambling problems. Extra time, stress and anxiety, access to gambling on the internet, and an increase in online gambling options are a recipe for trouble.

People struggling with gambling problems, or in recovery from problem gambling, may find this isolation to be especially difficult.

If you have noticed extra stress, anxiety, anger, uncontrollable urges to gamble or an increase in gambling activities there are options for help. If your loved one is struggling to control their gambling, help is available for you, too.

Contact the Western Problem Gambling Resource Center at (716) 833-4274.

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