Addressing Problem Gambling Through Community Connections

The conference focus was to raise awareness about problem gambling and how to get help to as many people in the community as possible. The more closely the community works together, the better the outcomes will be for those with gambling addictions.

Some goals from the conference included:

  • Increasing the acceptance of all addictions as destructive to individuals and our community
  • Providing education about gambling addiction to drug and alcohol counselors
  • Addressing areas where addictions overlap
  • Breaking down silos and the stratifying of addictions to identify areas where we can create community-wide issues and agendas

Keynote Presentation: The Future of the Field—Addressing Problem Gambling through Community Connections

Keith Whyte, Executive Director, National Council on Problem Gambling

The future of gambling, problem gambling and responsible gaming depends on how community stakeholders perceive and respond to several major trends. Three important issues are the impact of technology, changing social mores and public perception, and best practices and standards. Gaming continues to change and be changed by advances in
technology including internet gambling, mobile phone betting and digital currency, all of which may pose more risk for gambling addiction but maybe more opportunities for responsible gaming. The “normalization” of gambling in our society represents a massive social change, yet gambling addicts still face significant shame and stigma, which has important implications for addressing problem gambling. Finally, after decades of research we have emerging evidence for standards and best practices across a wide range of gaming-related areas, which will likely challenge current operations and programs in many areas. Our challenge is to shape community responses into positive, solution-oriented and audience-specific programs and services that reduce social costs and improve public health. Gambling addiction is a major public health issue that affects many constituencies and demands action from these groups, not just problem gambling professionals.

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Working with Family Members in Problem Gambling Treatment

Tanya Friese, MSW, LICSW, LADC, MN-CGC
Manager of Mental Health and Family Programming, Project Turnabout

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Stacked Deck: Prevention Curriculum for School Students

Ashley Trantham, MS, Prevention Coordinator, North Carolina Problem Gambling Program, BDA Morneau Shepell
Matthew J McCreary, LCPC, CEAP, PCGC, ICCGC, CADC, Prevention Coordinator, North Carolina Problem Gambling Program, BDA Morneau Shepell

Did you know that there is only one problem gambling-specific prevention program on SAMHSA’s national registry of evidence-based programs and practices? With more than 50 schools and more than 4,000 students having participated in Hazelden’s Stacked Deck Program, BDA Morneau Shepell has designed this workshop to share lessons learned and key insights from four years of preventing problem gambling in North Carolina high schools, middle schools and community organizations.

Participants will learn:

  • The Stacked Deck curriculum
  • How to develop a project management plan for implementing an evidence-based problem gambling prevention program
  • Lessons learned from five years of prevention programming

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Minnesota Youth Gambling Trends from the Minnesota Student Survey

Randy Stinchfield, PhD

Gambling questions have been included in the MN Student Survey since 1992, shortly after the onset of the MN State lottery and other commercial gambling. This presentation will cover trends in gambling among MN youth and will look at similarities and differences between specific groups, such as Native American youth. The gambling items were revised for the 2016 MN Student Survey to include a new brief adolescent gambling screen and this new screen will be described.

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Discovering Problem Gambling Screening; Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT)

Sheryl Anderson, MS, BCC, LADC, ADCR-MN, NCGC II, Coordinator, Vanguard Center for Gambling Recovery

It is important for all therapy and social service workers to be able to easily identify and diagnose a gambling disorder. When not familiar with this issue counselors may find that it doesn’t look like they might imagine. SBIRT is a brief screening and assessment process for therapists of all types to use with clients, even those who don’t personally identify themselves as having a gambling problem. In this session, participants will learn:

  • The basic signs and symptoms of a gambling disorder
  • Screening tools to use in identification
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Distinct features of gambling disorder

Gambling Among Today’s and Tomorrow’s Seniors

Todd Maki, Research Analyst, Minnesota Lottery

Moral opposition to gambling runs highest among Minnesota’s oldest adults, yet two-thirds report placing wagers on one or more legal gambling activities in the past year. This presentation will explore why adults born prior to 1965 feel that way and use data from a St. Cloud State University survey that shows which gambling activities are most popular and least popular. It will conclude with a discussion of potential problem gambling risk and protective factors and tips for effective use of media to reach this audience.

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Meditation and Mindfulness: Skills for Gambling Recovery

Ollie Stocker, LICSW, LADC, Licensed Psychotherapist, Psychotherapist Supervisor, Fairview Recovery Services

Mindfulness has been found to be an effective practice to address mental health issues. This presentation will provide background on how mindfulness can be used to treat gambling patients, provide an overview of meditation and how it relates to mindfulness, and offer perspective of how meditation and mindfulness exercises can be used in the treatment of gambling addiction.

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Strange Bedfellows: Collaborations Across the Gaming Spectrum in Massachusetts

Marlene Warner, MA, Executive Director, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

In Massachusetts nonprofits, community advocates, state employees, regulators, gaming industry and vendors, researchers/evaluators, and people with lived experiences are all part of the solution to master the prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery efforts underway for gambling disorder. This session will provide examples of current projects underway and the roles each stakeholder plays, as well as look at the process to manage all the expectations and contributions. Participants will review case studies from the Massachusetts model, learning both about the successes and pitfalls, and also have an opportunity to initiate the planning for projects in their own jurisdiction or states. This session is useful for anyone who’d liken to broaden their work to include new, and possibly not immediately apparent, partners!


DHS/ADAD Addiction Reform: Plan for Prevention

Brian Zirbes, MA, LADC, LPCC, Deputy Director, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division (ADAD), State of Minnesota

This presentation will cover Minnesota’s plan for the prevention, treatment and recovery of addiction. Major areas of focus include: model of care, culturally specific/specific populations, opioid-related recommendations, primary prevention, problem gambling and tobacco prevention.


Neurobiology and Cognition of Problem Gambling

Jon E. Grant, JD, MD, MPH, Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Chicago

The choice to engage in gambling behavior is complex and reflects a potentially wide array of biological and cognitive dysfunctions, such as problems in executive functioning, flexibility and inhibition. Building upon the new global focus on precision medicine, these biological and cognitive aspects of problem gambling arguably allow us to subtype individuals with problematic gambling behaviors based on more refined understandings of developmental and personal path physiology. In turn, this knowledge should enable us to focus our treatment approaches. This talk will discuss the neurobiological, developmental and psychological issues giving rise to problem gambling and will address treatment approaches to these behaviors.

By the end of the presentation, participants should be able to:

  • Understand the clinical and biological aspects of problem gambling
  • Be aware of the biological, psychological, cognitive and developmental aspects of problem gambling
  • Understand how to approach the treatment of this behavior

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Depression in Men for Clinicians/Professionals

Mark Meier, MSW, LICSW, Founder and Executive Director, Face It Foundation

The presence of a mood disorder, such as major depressive disorder, along with high rates of suicide in problem gamblers has been well established in the clinical literature. While men are more likely than women to complete a suicide, it is often thought that men have significantly lower rates of depression than women. However, recent data and increased clinical conversations are compelling mental health professionals to more closely examine the differences that exist between men and women who suffer from depression and to recognize how these differences impact diagnosing and treatment conversations. In this talk you will learn about the unique characteristics of male depression, learn strategies for appropriately identifying depression in men, and gain skills to effectively engage men and move them toward treatment.

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Corrections and Problem Gambling: Rule 82 and Beyond

Linda Sizer, Hennepin County Probation Officer
Mike Downey, Training Consultant, Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance

A problem gambling issue is not something that most people share easily. It is often kept a secret due to the intense shame people feel when they realize they are unable to control their gambling themselves. The state of Minnesota addresses problem gambling through a variety of processes. Within the corrections community, probation officers follow “Rule 82,” a requirement new probation clients be screened for gambling problems. This presentation will look at that system and discuss its evolution and current practice. The Rule 82 online training program developed by Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance for the Minnesota Department of Corrections will be previewed.


Talkin’ Bout My Generation: Generational Differences in Gambling and Why They Matter

Don Feeney, MS, MPP, Director of Research and Planning, Minnesota Lottery

When a person was born has much to do with their beliefs and attitudes about gambling. Today’s seniors grew up in an era of gambling prohibition while the millennial generation came of age at a time when new technology allowed them to gamble in ways older generations could not conceive of. Yet our problem gambling awareness and treatment programs are very much one size fits all. This presentation will explore the formative experiences of each generation, present data showing generational differences in gambling behavior and attitudes, examine the diversity present within each generation, and conclude with a discussion of how problem gambling programs can best be adapted to suit the needs and experiences of each generation.


Gambling in the Lao Community: What It Looks Like Here

Helen Ghebre, Program and Policy Consultant, MN Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division
Sunny Chanthanouvong, Executive Director Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota
Brian Herder,Co-Owner and Executive Creative Director, Russell Herder

Over the course of a year, the Lao Community Participatory Group met every month to discuss prevalent gambling issues defined by the community. The Lao Community Participatory Group is the result of a partnership between the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota and Minnesota Department of Human of Services. The objectives of the Lao community participatory group included: (1) identifying effective communication strategies to reach the Lao community in Minnesota, (2) understanding the cultural perception of gambling within the Lao community, and (3) identifying culturally informed prevention and community education models. The findings from these meetings, combined with research done in 2015, informed awareness and prevention initiatives developed to reach the Lao community. Participants will:

  • Understand cultural and generational differences in gambling activity
  • Examine culturally informed prevention and community education models
  • Understand how to apply research and on-the-ground learning to program/initiative execution

Making Connections, Building Community

Rose McKinney, APR, Fellow PRSA, Founder & CEO, Pineapple Reputation Management
Jason Reed, PsyD, LP, Licensed Psychologist, Reed Psychological Services

Through the professional perspective of an addiction psychologist and the anecdotal perspective of a parent of a young person in recovery, you will discover how different paths led to a shared belief in the vital importance of working together across disciplines to approach addiction and related mental health disorders. Participants will learn:

  • Scientific evidence around community support, what different resources are available and how to help your clients build their own recovery community
  • Why informed consent better serves you and your clients
  • How to acquire the knowledge, make the connections and build a community to support you, your clients and their families
  • How to work across disciplines and different conceptualizations/beliefs about addiction

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Depression in Men: For Yourself and the Man You Care About

Mark Meier, MSW, LICSW, Founder and Executive Director, Face It Foundation

Data suggests that women suffer from depression at about twice the rate of men but, increasingly, mental health professionals are realizing that the real issue is that depression in men is often not talked about or accurately diagnosed. Untreated depression in men leaves them susceptible to an increased risk for suicide, continued or renewed gambling problems, alcohol/drug abuse and a host of other risky behaviors. Furthermore, men with untreated depression struggle with their careers, their relationships and their overall satisfaction with life. This presentation will educate you about the signs of depression, the causes of depression, the treatments for depression, and suggestions for engaging men who might be reluctant to seek help.

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