Compulsive gambling has a major effect on Minnesota families. I have recently been learning a lot about problem gambling and how it affects families from Minnesota therapist Paula Detjen. Paula has specialized training related to gambling and has earned the Minnesota MnGTP designation, which allows for special funding of gambling therapy in Minnesota. Here’s a list, by county, of Minnesota State Approved Gambling Treatment Providers.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) website states that “Over one third of Minnesotans say they know someone with a gambling problem.” (citing DHS 2002 Consumer Research Survey)
Here’s a great first-stop brochure about compulsive gambling from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) titled Is Someone You Love a Problem Gamber? It addresses compulsive gambling warning signs and a 20-question screening tool.
Here’s the link to the Minnesota Institute of Health Gambling Problems Resource Center.
You’ll want to check out the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance website which provides the following guidance for helping someone at risk for problem gambling:
If you think a friend has a gambling problem, show your concern. Don’t avoid the topic. Do avoid sermons, lectures, judging and verbal attacks, however. Don’t continue the conversation if you begin to feel impatient or angry. You may encounter defensiveness and denial–don’t take this personally. Make it clear you’re concerned and tell the person how his or her gambling behavior affects you. You may have to set limits with the person. Don’t be manipulated into excusing, justifying, overlooking, enabling or participating in the person’s self-defeating behaviors.
If the person agrees that he or she has a problem, try to:
* Remain supportive and reinforce even small efforts toward change.
* Be prepared for some steps backward as a normal part of the recovery process.
* Help the person make contact with recovering gamblers and organizations such as Gamblers Anonymous.
* Encourage activities that are not related to gambling, and curb your own gambling behaviors.
* Educate yourself about problem and compulsive gambling.
If the person doesn’t agree that he or she has a problem, you can still call the Helpline to get more information about resources and counseling services that are available and to help you cope with the problem. It never hurts to call.
Interestingly, I didn’t find much, if any, information about bankruptcy on these sites. I asked Paula Detjen about this and she said that bankruptcy is not promoted as a great option because they are looking to help the gambler directly address the underlying problem. Bankruptcy is seen as a way to avoid the hard choices, such as making a payment plan, to take ownership of the problem and move forward with accountability for their actions. I’m interested to learn more about this.
Here’s the link to Minnesota Gambler’s Anonymous (GA). Their hotline number is 1-888-GAHELPS ( 1-888-424-3577 ). They have a schedule of regular GA meetings listed on their website. Here’s the history of Gambler’s Anonymous, according to their website:
The fellowship of Gamblers Anonymous is the outgrowth of a chance meeting between two men during the month of January in 1957. These men had a truly baffling history of trouble and misery due to an obsession to gamble. They began to meet regularly and as the months passed neither had returned to gambling. They concluded from their discussions that in order to prevent a relapse it was necessary to bring about certain character changes within themselves. In order to accomplish this, they used for a guild certain spiritual principles which had been utilized by thousands of people who were recovering from other compulsive addictions. The word spiritual can be said to discribe those characteristics of the human mind that represent the highest and finest qualities such as kindness, honesty and humility. Also, in order to maintain their own abstinence they felt that it was vitally important that they carry the message of hope to other compulsive gamblers. As a result of favorable publicity by a prominent newspaper columnist an TV commentator, the first group meeting of Gamblers Anonymous was held on Friday, September 13, 1957 in Los Angeles California. Since that time, the fellowship has grown steadily and groups are flourishing throughout the world.
Author of this post: Carl Arnold, Attorney and Mediator