Counsellors receive gambling training
Dozens of local counsellors have been given tips on how to spot and treat gambling addicts.
The workshop, led by Loreen Rugle of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was organised last week by the Bermuda Casino Gaming Commission as one of a series of events designed to highlight problem gambling.
Dr Rugle said there were issues in Bermuda even without the introduction of casinos.
She said: “People are seeing clients who already have gambling issues or gambling is affecting their recovery, so we can start with what we have got, learn those strategies and techniques and build from that.
“When we look at the numbers, about one per cent to three per cent of the adult population may suffer with the problem, and that figure is slightly higher in young people.”
Dr Rugle explained there was a lack of awareness of gambling addiction.
She said: “There is a real need for public awareness, both for people who have the disorder or those who work with them, because it is under-identified and difficult for people to acknowledge the problem and get help.
“We need to get started with public awareness as soon as possible, so people know what the problem is and that help is available.
“It’s always good to be ahead of the game in getting counsellors ready to understand that it’s not just the casino that’s going to create the problem.
“We already have folks in Bermuda dealing with gambling problems.”
During the training session, which was held at the Ocean View Golf Club on Thursday, Dr Rugle worked with more than 60 local counsellors on how to address gambling addiction, both as a problem on its own and as a “co-occurring” disorder along with substance abuse and mental health problems.
Dr Rugle said: “While it shares a lot of features with other addictions, like substance abuse disorders, there are some unique features that have to be appreciated in order to work effectively with this population.”
Dr Rugle highlighted some of the similarities and differences between drug and gaming addictions, and detailed the different types of problem gambler.
Roger Trott, director of responsible and problem gaming, said the training was one of several being organised.
In addition to the workshops for counsellors, Mr Trott said events would be held for educators and the faith community.
“This problem already exists in the Bermuda community,” Mr Trott said. “Having more training available now is only going to help people care for those in our community.”
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