HEARTLAND FAMILY SERVICE
MARCH MADNESS CAN LEAD TO BIG PROBLEMS
The NCAA Tournament is called "March Madness" because of the excitement it generates for sports fans. But for problem gamblers, it can be one of the most dangerous times of the year.
From "brackets" and office pools to wagers on specific games, Americans bet an estimated $3 billion - the vast majority of that illegally - on the NCAA Tournament. Making it one of the biggest times of the year for sports gambling.
Because of the increased gambling during March Madness, the eleventh annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Week is officially observed March 3-9, 2013. The commemoration is sponsored locally by the Heartland Family Service Gambling Treatment Program, and nationally by the National Council on Problem Gambling and the Association of Problem Gambling Service Administrators.
Heartland Family Service is working to educate Iowans to recognize the signs of problem gambling.
If family members, friends or employers suspect that a person may have a gambling problem, they are encouraged to call Heartland Family Service through 1-800-BETS-OFF where they can discuss their concerns with a counselor who specializes in gambling treatment. You can also request brochures and materials about problem gambling.
Here are some of the warning signs of problem gambling:
* Betting more and more money over time
* Spending more time gambling than planned
* Lying to people about gambling
* Using gambling to escape problems
* Borrowing to replace lost money
* Using credit to gamble
* Gambling to get lost money back
* Unsuccessfully trying to cut back or quit
* Gambling alone
* Losing interest in other activities
Problem gambling presents a serious threat to the individual, family and community at large. Many problem gamblers have emptied family savings accounts, skipped house payments and/or depleted retirement accounts to finance their gambling problem. Some may resort to crimes that may include check forgery, loan fraud, embezzlement and/or employee theft, tax evasion and tax fraud. According to TJ Gorman, Lead Therapist in the Iowa Behavioral Health Program, "Problem gamblers often times have a co-occurring disorder with mental health issues or substance abuse. The co-morbidity of these issues, along with the feelings of shame and guilt following a loss, place gamblers at a high risk of suicide." Treatment can help a person come to terms with their gambling, cope with the shame and repair relationships. Treatment can save lives and families; if you or someone you know has a gambling problem or seems to be heading in that direction, please call either 866-322-1407 or 1-800-BETS-OFF to speak with a counselor about your concerns.
Heartland Family Service has offered outpatient problem gambling treatment in Nebraska and Iowa since 1986 and the counselors in the gambling treatment program have received specialized training to address the problems created by the problem gambler. Both Nebraska and Iowa funding originates as a percentage of lottery proceeds and other gaming revenue. The Iowa program is funded by the Iowa Department of Human Services, and the Nebraska program is funded by the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services.
(CONTACT: Tiffani Pinkerton Prevention Specialist 712-325-5629)