Gamblers Anonymous Unveils New Blue Book

Gamblers Anonymous Unveils New Blue Book

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) has unveiled an updated Blue Book, the first such revision in nearly 40 years. The purpose of the book is to better serve both new and current members in their search for recovery from gambling addiction.

Specifically, members wanted a book that would:

o Function as a how-to for GA

o Facilitate working with sponsees

o Help members quickly understand the process

o Be something that would help anyone understand what the program is

The existing Blue Book was dated and generally not being used by the fellowship, according to Tom S., a member of the committee charged with producing an updated book. Considerable changes have taken place in gambling since 1984, including online sports betting and the proliferation of casinos.

“Mostly gone are the days of cigar-smoking horse players and sports bettors dropping a dime in a payphone and calling a bookie,” says Tom. “The gamblers coming to our meetings today are more likely to be casino gamblers, gamblers caught up in state-sponsored gambling, female gamblers and younger gamblers. They didn’t find a connection to the Blue Book of 1984.”

The revised book reflects changes that have already occurred in most GA meetings, including an effort to be more inclusive and an emphasis that meetings be solution-based — including recovery steps — rather than “war story” based.

The book was eight years in the making (partially delayed by the pandemic) and was produced by eight active Minnesota GA members with combined sobriety of approximately 120 years. The book is comprised of all original material, with no language borrowed from other twelve-step fellowships (although twelve-step principles and philosophy are woven throughout).

The book encapsulates the vast experience of its contributors and is a storehouse of ideas for recovering gamblers, covering issues such as how to deal with gambling urges, how to go to a meeting, how to get involved in GA, how to choose a sponsor, how to grow in recovery and how to repair relationships. The book also incorporates material from the GA Combo Book.

New chapters were added that address suicide, relapse, sponsorship, and hope and persistence.

“The chapter on suicide is extremely important and, until now, was completely missing from GA literature,” says Tom.

The new book does not include declaratives, such as “you must” or “you have to” statements. Different viewpoints are discussed and the suggestion is made for gamblers to discuss these perspectives with their sponsor or mentors.

The book is valuable for clients of counselors and therapists who choose to pursue their personal recovery journey in GA. Clients may also see themselves in the experiences depicted in the stories section of the book.

“I would encourage those who work with compulsive or problem gamblers to read this book from cover to cover, as it captures both the despair experienced by compulsive gamblers and the better way of life promised by GA,” says Jeannie B., who was also involved in producing the new book. “Professionals can also use the book to deepen their understanding of the GA program.”

To order a copy of the book, please visit gamblersanonymous.org.

MNAPG  Provides Multi-lingual Resources

MNAPG Provides Multi-lingual Resources

MNAPG strives to provide as many resources as possible so that all Minnesotans are aware of the risks and harms of problem gambling. Over the past year, we’ve been working with people in specific communities to ensure that our most basic messaging is available in the many languages represented in Minnesota. You can request a list of the problem gambling warning signs in Spanish, Chinese, Hmong, Vietnamese and Somali, as well as English, by visiting https://form.jotform.com/221867275834062. We have also added a translate button on our website, which will provide access to 12 different languages: Chinese (simplified), Chinese(traditional), Haitian, Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Somali, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese. (Please note that we’re aware that the translations may not fully capture a specific community’s turn of phrase, or the English terms might not be readily translatable; we’re relying on an automated system.)

1-800-GAMBLER, the New National Helpline

1-800-GAMBLER, the New National Helpline

Years in the making, NCPG has recently leased 1-800-GAMBLER as the new nationwide helpline number. With the significant increase in sports betting, it makes sense to use one number in the often-small amount of advertising space. While some states mandate that their own state helpline be included in any advertising that crosses their borders, Minnesota does not mandate the exclusive use of 1-800-333-HOPE. MNAPG agrees with this approach for sports betting. MNAPG will continue to use the Minnesota helpline number in its brochures and in-state only ads. Either way, the caller will be directed to the Minnesota vendor who handles the helpline. Until Minnesota decides to discontinue the HOPE number, MNAPG will support use of both numbers.

NCPG National Conference Registration Is Open!

NCPG National Conference Registration Is Open!

NCPG’s national conference will take place in our nation’s capital in July. MNAPG will again offer scholarships to approved problem gambling counselors if they have joint memberships with MNAPG and NCPG. The scholarship will cover up to $1,000 for attending either the in-person event in Washington, D.C., July 27-28 or the online pre-conference workshops the afternoons of June 14 and 15. Advocacy Day (see article in this issue of Northern Light) will be July 26 for those who want to connect with their congressional representatives. More information on the scholarship can be obtained by contacting sstucker@mnapg. org. Conference information can be found at https://www.ncpgambling.org/nationalconference/2023-2/.

Helpline Adds Motivational Texting

Helpline Adds Motivational Texting

Needless to say, we live in a world where texting seems the preeminent form of communication. So why shouldn’t it play an important role in helping someone with a gambling problem.

Now, in Minnesota, it does. LifeWorks, which manages the Minnesota Problem Gambling Helpline, now offers a service called Encourage Me that consists of motivational text messaging.

Encourage Me motivational text messaging is offered to both gamblers and affected others in both English and Spanish. Messages are sent twice each week for three months and are tailored to fit into the client’s stage of change, as clients require a different type of information and support in each stage. The messages provide both information about gambling and problem gambling, encouragement to change, and tips and suggestions on how to make the changes they want to make.

“We realize that some people may just be thinking about changing, while others need maintenance during the recovery period,” says Ashley Trantham, Manager of Customer Success at LifeWorks. Motivational messaging is offered as a supplemental treatment tool and isn’t meant to be a substitute for counseling.

Here are some questions and answers about Encourage Me:

Why Texting?

· The program was developed using research from successful healthcare-related texting programs such as smoking cessation, weight loss, and medication management.

· Text messages have a 98% open rate vs. a 20% open rate for emails.

· Text messages can be opened at any time that is most convenient to the user.

· Available on almost every model of mobile phone.

· Provides a reminder that someone cares.

· Reminds the user that help is available.

Is it effective?

Yes! Outcome surveys are conducted at the conclusion of the texts and in the first year, 86% of survey responses indicated that receiving a text message every week helped keep them focused and working on their goals about gambling. Example comment: “I have not gambled since calling the helpline and found the text messages helpful for reinforcement, reminding me to focus on my goal of not gambling.”

Examples of texts

Contemplation: Consider changing your thoughts from “I have to stop gambling” to “I want to stop gambling”
Preparation: You have made significant progress by just acknowledging that gambling is no longer fun. You’re on the right path.
Action: Today is the day to be good to yourself. Take a walk, enjoy the warmth of the sun, or give yourself the gift of feeling good about managing your gambling.
Maintenance: Take the time to review and modify your goals and plans for recovering from problem gambling. Stay active in your recovery!

Can a person enroll more than once?
Yes

How do I enroll a client?

Clients are offered Encourage Me messages as a standard part of their call to the Problem Gambling Helpline. If your client has not yet enrolled, you can enroll them by calling the helpline together or recommending that they contact the Helpline themselves. Curious? You can call and sign yourself up, too!

NCPG Signs Historic Agreement with CCGNJ for Use of 1-800-GAMBLER

NCPG Signs Historic Agreement with CCGNJ for Use of 1-800-GAMBLER

The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) has entered into a six-year license agreement with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. (CCGNJ) for the use of their 1-800-GAMBLER® federally registered service mark in all U.S. states outside of New Jersey, as well as all U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

This builds on NCPG’s multi-year National Problem Gambling Helpline Modernization Project. The project, supported by a grant from the National Football League Foundation in 2021, will improve call center technology, data collection and reporting, as well as upgrade criteria and offer standardized training and certification for call centers across the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network.

“The Modernization Project will allow us to make significant improvements to the operations, technology and infrastructure of the network to keep up with the ever-growing need for problem gambling resources,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of NCPG.

So what does this mean for Minnesota’s helpline? Once a helpline is well established, it’s important to keep the helpline number. “One never wants to be in a situation when someone in need calls a helpline number and finds it’s been disconnected,” says Susan Sheridan Tucker, MNAPG executive director.

While the Minnesota Department of Human Services will ultimately make the decision, MNAPG will recommend continued use of 1-800-333-HOPE in all in-state publications, brochures, etc. However, when the day comes that sports betting is approved, MNAPG will advise that the 1-800-GAMBLER number be used, especially with regard to intrastate games and advertising. The use of one number will also help in the production of ads that often have to include several state helpline numbers when the ad audience is multi-state. Use of 1-800-GAMBLER would enable anyone from anywhere to call one number and be directed to their specific state helpline (if the state has its own vendor, like Minnesota).

The one aspect that will add another step is if someone purchased their cell number in one state and is currently calling from another state, their call will be directed to the state covering the originating area code. This is true for every helpline in the nation except for 911. Federal legislation must be passed in order for this technological change to happen. Until then, NCPG will work to improve its warm transfers when this situation arises.

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