Jennifer Faringer, MS.Ed., CPP-G
September is National Recovery Month, a time to celebrate recovery from all addictions including one that’s not always openly discussed − problem gambling. Recognized as a “hidden addiction,” the signs of a problem gambling addiction are not as easy to recognize as with dependence on alcohol or other drugs. It is especially important to increase the awareness of problem gambling, making it a priority in terms of prevention education and awareness, as well as screening, counseling and treatment services.
During COVID-19, access to the primary three staples of gambling (casinos, sports and racetracks) have all been very limited and restricted as all involve large gatherings and were deemed non-essential. Only very recently are casinos in the early stages of reopening on a limited basis. However, since the mid-March closures, online gambling opportunities have been thriving and expanding in access and availability.
Online gambling includes online poker, online lottery, online casinos and eSports. Those in early recovery from a problem gambling disorder have been faced with not only increased access to online gambling but also the sharp increase in anxiety and depression which may accompany the uncertainty and social and physical isolation associated with the pandemic. Additionally, gamblers that are in early recovery have lost their access to in-person Gambler’s Anonymous (GA) meetings. GA meetings are still available but now through a virtual format, which for some has not been ideal.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Rochester Area (NCADD-RA) has developed and continues to update the Problem Gambling Services Directory which includes regional resources for prevention education, private practice counseling and treatment, with many, if not all, offering services virtually. For more information, visit https://ncadd-ra.org/services/finger-lakes-addiction-resource-center/.
NCADD-RA continues to partner with the New York Council on Problem Gambling on their YOUth Decide 2020 Project. We ask parents to consider taking a pledge to talk to your children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren about the risks of problem gambling.
Parent pledges may be accessed virtually at:
Additionally, we ask all youth between the ages of 13-18 to take a confidential five-minute survey regarding the myths and facts surrounding problem gambling and media literacy.
Youth surveys may be accessed virtually at:
Jennifer Faringer is director of DePaul’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence-Rochester Area.