The National Council on Problem Gambling Announces National Problem Gambling Awareness Week: March 3-9, 2013

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Problem Gambling: A New Understanding of a Community Concern

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Problem gambling is now classified as a behavioral addiction, according to the soon to be released Diagnostic Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) from the American Psychiatric Association. It was previously categorized as an impulse control disorder since its introduction into the DSMIII in 1980.

    “This is significant,” says Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling. “The committee relied on new biological research to find the common pathways of addiction irrespective of the presence of external agents like drugs or alcohol”. DSM-5 will now cluster a Gambling Disorder with other addictions such as substance use.

     Jeffrey Beck, Assistant Director for Clinical Services, Treatment & Research for the New Jersey Council on Compulsive Gambling, notes that “Addiction is a better understood condition and I think that many persons and families suffering from a gambling disorder will be closer to obtaining help and relief. In a word, the reclassification will help people.”

    “Helping people is what it’s all about,” says Reece Middleton, Executive Director of the Louisiana Council on Problem Gambling. “Health professionals are the front line for recognizing gambling addiction. Addiction can be successfully treated, we know that.” The change in the diagnostics for problem gambling may result in earlier help and prevent further suffering and destruction for the gambler and his/her family. Gambling issues are often overlooked in mental health and addiction counseling and treatment facilities.

     “Problem gamblers have a very high instance of depression,” notes Middleton. “Studies also reveal that up to half of problem gamblers have alcohol/drug problems as well.” Screening for a gambling problem in a mental health or addiction agency is a simple process that could be a life saver.

    March 3 through March 9, 2013 is National Problem Gambling Awareness Week. The eleventh annual event emphasizes “Problem Gambling – A New Understanding of a Community Concern.” This is a good time for health professionals in all fields to utilize simple, free tools to screen for gambling problems available at

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