Denver (Vocus) March 9, 2010
The Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado is joining forces with the National Council on Problem Gambling to kick off National Problem Gambling Awareness Week. From March 7-13, 2010, the Coalition will shine the light on gambling addiction, an issue which impacts an estimated six million to nine million Americans.
Mitch was of those individuals. His gambling habit started innocently enough. Dates at the dog tracks. Vacations in Vegas. A sports bet here and there. Then Mitch began missing work. He got a bookie and began taking out loans and opening credit cards to pay for his habit. Before long, he was gambling five or six hours a day.
“I was out of control. I was betting on Ivy League basketball games, the WBNA –anything to get a fix,” said Mitch (who asked that his last name not be used). “I went through four really good relationships because all I cared about was gambling. I was fortunate not to lose my job.”
After battling his addiction for 15 years, Mitch finally decided to seek help. He began attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings more than year ago and now runs his own meetings twice a week. But more often than not, experts say problem gamblers don’t get the help they need.
“It’s one of those addictions that can often go unnoticed,” said Amber Bunch, executive director of the Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado. “But if family members and friends had a better idea of what to look for, problem gamblers might be prompted to get help sooner.”
The resources available to problem gamblers and their families in Colorado include the University of Denver’s Problem Gambling Treatment and Research
Center and the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation at the Anschutz Centers for Advanced Medicine (CeDAR). A list of private practice treatment professionals and other resources can be found at http://www.problemgamblingcolorado.org/treatment/index.cfm.
Gamblers Anonymous also holds 17 meetings weekly statewide. Mitch attends three meetings a week and says that the participants range from doctors and lawyers to housewives who gambled as a means of escape.
“It affects all demographics,” said Mitch.
The organization has slightly expanded the number of meetings it offers in recent years and attendance at its meetings has grown. Mitch says the majority of problem gamblers at the meetings he runs, tend to be addicted to casino games, but there are also individuals who are addicted to sports betting, bingo, lottery tickets, even day trading.
Mitch said he indulged in all forms of gambling. At one point, he was so in debt, his entire paycheck went to paying off the payday loans he’d taken to fund his addiction. He is now out of debt and dedicated to steering clear of temptation.
“Gamblers Anonymous was my saving grace, without a doubt,” said Mitch. “It’s like medicine.”
For more information on Gamblers Anonymous meetings, visit http://www.coloradoga.org or call 1-800-424-3577.
Contact: Amber Bunch
Problem Gambling Coalition of Colorado
Colorado Gaming Association