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The most misunderstood addiction

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Every year millions of Americans struggle with gambling addictions, which can lead to life-changing consequences. Stock photo



BROWN COUNTY – With bright, flashing lights and the rush of excitement with winning, it’s no surprise that gambling leads to a shocking, drugless high.

However, when the inevitable losses come it can be difficult for many to cope.

Every year millions of Americans struggle with gambling addictions, which can lead to life-changing consequences.

In Green Bay there are two organizations supporting those with gambling addictions, Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous.

The Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling (WCPG) was first established in 1993 by counselors, recovering compulsive gamblers, educators and concerned citizens looking to provide aid.

Located in Green Bay, WCPG has a state-wide membership and is one of 35 councils affiliated with the National Council on Problem Gambling, Inc. of Washington D.C.

Rose Blozinski, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling, shared that WCPG’s primary mission is to “educate and promote public understanding of problem gambling and the disorder of compulsive gambling” while remaining neutral on the issue of legalized gambling.

Compulsive gambling, also called gambling disorder, is the “uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life.”

People who are compulsive gamblers are willing to take large risks for the chance at a win, regardless of the consequences.

This includes depleting savings, hiding gambling from friends and family and even resorting to theft to support gambling.

Gambling disorder, similarly to drug and alcohol addictions, activates the brain’s reward system, leading to extremely difficulty in kicking the habit.

Another group that has been working with people to combat compulsive gambling is Gamblers Anonymous.

Inspired by the original group from California in 1957, the Green Bay chapter of Gamblers Anonymous has been active for 50 years and was reestablished by Timothy Nilsson, author of On Gambling: True Stories of Addiction, Hope and Recovery, following COVID-19.

“Our main mission at Gamblers Anonymous is to help compulsive gamblers seek full recovery from their gambling addictions” Nilsson shared.

Gamblers Anonymous meetings are also “open,” meaning “a compulsive gambler can bring someone with them to a meeting for support” because as “the most misunderstood of all addictions, a support person can learn plenty by attending just one Gamblers Anonymous meeting.”

Gamblers Anonymous is dedicated to sharing stories and finding healing together, which Nilsson shared is possible.

“Charity, benevolence, volunteer work and making a difference in this world has to come from the heart and be done for the sole purpose of betterment for all lives. This is what I see in the Gamblers Anonymous program. People giving hope to others. Lending a helping hand, a smile or an act of kindness; not expecting anything in return. It’s very rare to see these days. I’m very proud to be part of a group that is committed to helping people live a more fulfilling, honest and integrity-driven life,” he said.

If you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling there is support available.

Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling can be reached at (800) 426-2535 or wi-problemgamblers.org.

Information regarding resources and meetings through Gamblers gamblersanonymous.org.

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