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NPGAW Prompts Educational Efforts Locally and Nationally

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), the national advocate for programs and services to assist problem gamblers, is providing free educational materials during the 11th Annual National Problem Gambling Awareness Week (NPGAW), March 3-9.

This yearís theme, "Problem Gambling: A New Understanding of a Community Concern," is a grassroots campaign geared to educate the general public and healthcare professionals about the warning signs of problem gambling and raise awareness about the help that is available locally and nationally.

In Missouri, problem gamblers and their loved ones can call the toll-free problem gambling help line, 1-888-BETSOFF (1-888-238-7633), 24 hours a day, seven days per week, a service sponsored by Provident, Inc. in St. Louis.

"In addition to calling Missouriís help line, people can also email gamblingcounselor@providentstl.org to request a list of counselors nearest to the concerned partyís county," explained Heather Barnett, clinical specialist at Provident, Inc. On a national level, NCPG offers free public service announcements, flyers, brochures and other materials on their website, http://www.npgaw.org/.

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte noted that out of the millions of Americans experiencing a gambling problem each year, only a small percentage seeks help.

"Our mission is to increase awareness of pathological gambling, ensure widespread availability of treatment and to encourage research for prevention and education," Whyte began. "Recovery is possible, but problem gamblers or their loved ones must take the first step, which is seeking help from trained professionals. Callers all over the country can call the National Problem Gambling Help Line Network at 1-800-522-4700."

Questions or concerns about problem gambling or NCPG can be directed to (202) 547-9204 or ncpg@ncpgambling.org.

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Compulsive gambling is a behavior disorder in which an individual has an uncontrollable preoccupation and urge to gamble. This results in excessive gambling, the outcome of which is loss of time and money.

The gambling reaches the point at which it compromises, disrupts or destroys the gambler's personal life, family relationships or vocational pursuits. The key signs are emotional dependence on gambling, loss of control and interference with normal functioning.