Board of health told resources are available to aid those addicted to gambling
By MEGAN COOPER
Mt. Pleasant News
There are many opportunities for those in Henry County suffering from a gambling addiction.
Nicolas Foss, clinical supervisors for ADDS gambling treatment services in Burlington, shared his report with the Henry County Board of Health during its regular meeting Tuesday, stating that counseling is available for those in need.
The counseling services are funded through the Iowa Department of Public Health and Foss has a contract for 10 counties, which includes Henry County, and receives approximately $113,000 for treatment services. The services include crisis counseling, individual counseling and much more. Foss also provides education.
“I provide educational services for Henry County and do some classes at the Mental Health Institute here, at Wisdom Quest and even at the prison,” said Foss. “I want to try and get into the high school more because the younger they start gambling, the more likely they will have a gambling addiction.”
A person with a gambling addiction doesn’t have to meet any specific requirements to come in for treatment, said Foss.
“Anyone can come in and see me, the evaluation is free,” explained Foss. “There are nine criteria to follow to see if a person has a gambling addiction. If they meet four of the nine then they are set up for treatment, but the Iowa Department of Public Health actually provides funding for those who are at-risk. This means, those who have less than four can receive treatment as well, to prevent it from becoming an addiction.”
According to Foss, his curriculum that he teaches is evidence-based and is called Stacked Deck. It was developed by researchers in Minnesota and is very effective at decreasing the myths of gambling and providing information about what gambling is.
“It raises awareness and decreases myths like, ‘if I believe hard enough I will win,’ and so on. It also teaches the history of gambling and what gambling really is,” said Foss. “I want them to understand what it is. If they are going to gamble, they need to do it with a sense of responsibility just like drinking alcohol.”
Foss states that there is a lot of dramatization of gambling in movies and television and he wants kids to understand that gambling isn’t like that in the real world.
“I want to give them a healthy idea about gambling,” said Foss. “It isn’t like what happens in Casino Royale or 21, those movies aren’t realistic. I want to reach those kids in the hotspot age, which is 18 to 24, before they attend college. I think it can be done.”
Foss has completed 72 hours of education in Henry County so far this year and will be providing more as the year progresses, but doesn’t have any clients in Henry County yet.
“Right now, there are no clients in Henry County,” said Foss. “In 2013, I had ample amounts. I even had a women’s group and people came from out of county to participate. I think that it stopped because people graduated from the program, which is a good thing. Once they finished treatment, they don’t come back.”
Foss says that admission into the gambling treatment services has dropped and he blames that lack of advertising.
“People don’t know where to go or even that it still exists,” said Foss. “There used to be billboard and television advertisements, but now it’s all online. But just don’t know about it and so they can’t get the help they need. We want to make sure these people receive help so they can get their addiction under control.”