March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month

| March 10, 2014

COSHOCTON – As March approaches, Ohioans look forward to warm weather, St. Patrick’s Day, and filling out their March Madness brackets. Few realize that March is also known for another important reason: It’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month. Gambling opportunities have grown in Ohio with four new casinos and new racinos (race tracks with video lottery terminals) opening across the state. March is dedicated by Governor John R. Kasich as Ohio’s Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

In Coshocton County, Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices has joined the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) in sharing information so that community residents, parents and  young people understand what responsible gambling looks like and what to do when gambling stops being fun and starts to become a problem.

What are some signs of problem gambling?

  • Bragging about winning, exaggerating wins and/or minimizing losses.
  • Spending a lot of time gambling, thinking about or planning to gamble.
  • Restless or irritable when not gambling.
  • Borrowing for gambling.
  • Hiding time spent gambling or hiding bills and unpaid debts.
  • Lying about how much time or money is spent on gambling.

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month serves as a catalyst for us to talk about gambling addiction and the pain and damage that it can cause in countless lives throughout Ohio,” said Beth Cormack, executive director of CBHC. “It is as damaging to families and communities as substance abuse. People can gamble recreationally; however, for some, it takes over their world. Gambling addiction is just as prevalent in rural areas as it is in metropolitan areas, and many Coshocton County residents are facing this powerful addiction, not knowing where to turn for help. We want to be a helping hand to those individuals.”

A number of resources are now available for people faced with problem gambling behavior in themselves or a family member. The Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 offers referrals for gambling treatment in a specific part of the state, as well as helps with other concerns that can be impacted by gambling, such as housing, food, employment, financial counseling, etc.

If you believe that someone you love has a gambling problem, some simple steps can get a conversation started:

  • Talk in a comfortable, private place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
  • Keep it simple and straightforward; focus on your concern for the person and behavior.
  • Be specific about how the behavior is affecting others.
  • Be clear about expectations.
  • Allow the person to respond, and listen without passing judgment

For information about problem gambling services in your area, contact Coshocton Behavioral Health Choices at 622-0033 or call 1-800-589-9966.

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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