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June is Pride Month!
Pride month was established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals have had on the world. LGBTQIA+ groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings. It’s also important to recognize that the LGBTQIA+ individuals are disproportionately impacted by various mental health and addiction related issues, including problem gambling. For readers who are unfamiliar with the phrase “problem gambling,” this refers to anytime someone’s life is negatively impacted by their gambling habits. This could be financial struggles, relationship or partner issues, conflicts with work and school, and even translating to criminal behavior.
Unfortunately, there is limited research on the prevalence of gambling addiction among the LGBTQIA+ community. However, the information that is available does suggest that there is a correlation between problem gambling and those who identify as gay, bisexual, and transgender. A 2006 U.S. study reports that 21% of 105 men seeking treatment for problem gambling identified as gay or bisexual. That percentage is 7x higher than the (reported) rate of gay and bisexual men in the general population (21% as opposed to 3%) raising the possibility that gay/bi men might be at increased risk for problem gambling (Grant, JE, and Potenza, MN, 2006). Additionally, a 2015 Australian study reports that 20.2% of 69 LGBT participants met DSM V criteria for gambling disorder. Pub/slot games (58%) and scratch offs (43%) were most common about LGBTI populations. The amount spent ranged from $1 – $3K per month. Reasons were “because it is fun” and “because I like the feeling.”
The most important takeaway from these limited studies is that it’s important to have a comprehensive screening system in place for all individuals receiving treatment for problem gambling, especially screening specifically for LGBTQIA+ folks who are already in care or seeking treatment for mental health or chemical dependency needs. First and foremost, establishing a safe environment for clients should be a normalized step within all counseling and therapy-related practices. Secondly, culturally competent help is available for problem gambling in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC) can connect people to LGBTQIA+ friendly therapists either in person or virtually. The Brooklyn PGRC can also offer:
- Connection to mutual aid groups such as Gambler’s Anonymous, Gam-Anon, Smart Recovery or Smart Recovery for Family & Friends.
- Connection to a virtual statewide support group for family members
- Guidance through the NYS Casino Self-Exclusion Program
- Online tools and resources, including self-assessment screening
- Connection to statewide inpatient and outpatient treatment services
To get started, call the Brooklyn PGRC at (917) 994-8377 or email at NewYorkCityPGRC@NYProblemGambling.org.
The Brooklyn Problem Gambling Resource Center is a program of the New York Council on Problem Gambling, which is funded by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports. The Brooklyn PGRC is dedicated to addressing the issue of problem gambling in Brooklyn through increasing public awareness and connecting those adversely affected with services that can help them.
The Brooklyn Problem Gambling Resource Center is dedicated to the positive transformation of lives harmed by problem gambling. This vision of transformation includes individuals with a gambling problem as well as their families and communities. With a focus on supporting the individual and reducing barriers to care, the Brooklyn PGRC is truly the premier center for providing problem gambling services in Brooklyn, NY.