Problem gambling affects tens of thousands of people and, according to experts in the field, it's a growing issue because of the proliferation of televised poker tournaments, online gambling and sports-mania throughout the United States.
It's also the reason a Phoenix facility, Calvary Center, is launching a 30-day residential treatment program this month to help those who are struggling to overcome problem gambling issues.
"Problem gamblers? They're everywhere," said Bobbe McGinley, program consultant to Calvary Center in addition to her role as Clinical Director/CEO ACT-Counseling and Education. "There are thousands of problem gamblers in Arizona alone. There is a real need for this service."
Nationally, there are few residential treatment centers that provide specialized services to assist problem gamblers. Yet during the past three years, the National Council of Problem Gambling Hotline has recorded a 60 percent increase in calls to an all-time high of 221,736 calls in 2005.
Calvary Center admitted its first problem gambling clients this week. Initially, the center will dedicate a portion of its 50 residential beds for problem gambling clients who choose either a Christian-based or traditional program track to assist in their recovery. As demand increases, additional beds may be allocated to the problem gambling program, according to McGinley. The center, which was founded in Phoenix in 1964, is nationally recognized for providing residential recovery services for people with alcohol and drug addictions.
"We work with people to break their addictive patterns," McGinley says. "The residential treatment model gives clients the best opportunity to recover because there is time to get to the root of addictive behaviors," she adds.
Calvary Center residential model includes individual counseling, group therapy and family counseling, and will also provide an aftercare follow-up program of counseling and activities for those who choose to participate.
Another unique feature of the program is its commitment to discover the person with a dual-diagnosis, or addiction to both alcohol or drugs and gambling.
"The incidence is pretty high," said McGinley. "It's not unusual for a person to go from one addiction to another."
As a therapist who has been in the field for 19 years following her own recovery from alcohol addiction, McGinley says it used to be easier to identify the prototypical problem gambler. "Years ago, it was generally a white male age 50 or older. But today, there is no prototype compulsive gambler. They come in all ages and both genders," she said. "You even see groups of teens playing Texas Hold'Em after school and on weekends these days, and although teenagers playing cards is not an indication of gambling problems, it could set the stage for issues down the road."
For more information about the 30-day residential treatment, call (866) 76 SOBER or visit www.CalvaryCenter.com.