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Voice of the people

Mar. 06, 2013 @ 10:05 PM

Help is here for problem gamblers

This week, March 3-9, is National Problem Gambling Awareness Week.

As director of West Virginia's 1-800-GAMBLER program, I often hear about lives destroyed because treatment wasn't sought in time.

People tell me how they plow their whole paycheck into a slot machine, or cash their Social Security check at the bingo hall only to walk out empty-handed. They say they started out gambling for fun, or thinking they could win money to pay bills, but became desperate to win back the money they lost.

An estimated 1 percent of the population has a gambling addiction, and another 2 to 3 percent show symptoms of the disorder.

We have received almost 11,000 calls for help from people here in West Virginia, and almost 600 of those calls came from Cabell County. Almost a third of our callers admit resorting to illegal activities, like embezzling from their workplace, writing bad checks or stealing from their family, to finance their gambling.

Statewide, we have over 90 therapists who specialize in gambling addiction treatment.

Most people who seek help from us are able to recover. If you or someone you love is spending too much time or money gambling, call us at 1-800-GAMBLER for free help.

Patty Deutsch

Director, Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia

Charleston

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