March Is Problem Gambling Awareness Month

We recently spoke with Jennifer Davis Walton, Program Director for the Problem Gamblers Network of West Virginia, who wanted to inform listeners of March being Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and how her organization can help.


“March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month and that is a national awareness. We’re encouraging folks to be even more cognizant of possible issues. Basically we help folks, whether it’s the gambler or the loved ones, find help when there’s a problem gambling. We have a network of counselors throughout the state of West Virginia that we can connect the callers to for an initial consultation. We do pay for that, that first appointment, and then they can also continue going to see the counselor for ongoing sessions after that. We also have other services available. We do weekend retreats, we have support groups, we can send out information in the mail that is a lot of educational materials.

“ Our company is First Choice Health Systems. We’ve been around for about almost 16 years. And we operate there’s a grant. Basically the Lottery Commission, they don’t operate the grant; it goes to the state and then the state awards the grant to us to operate the health network. “


Ms. Walton spoke about symptoms to be aware of, and how treatment is handled.


“There are some warning signs and symptoms which include chasing your losses, tolerance – where you have to spend more time or money to get the same effect. So the symptoms are pretty similar to other addictions and then we tell folks to watch if they’re preoccupied with gambling; when they’re going to get to go again, how they’re going to get the money to gamble. You know if they’re becoming angry or irritable when they’re trying to stop gambling – withdrawal symptoms just like from any other substance. Basically if it’s interfering with any part of your life, whether it be relationships, financially, your job… then it’s cause for concern. “     “You know you’re going to treat it similar; there are definitely differences between a gambling addiction and, say, an alcohol addiction. But the premise is going to be very similar. You’re going to want to identify triggers and work on relapse prevention and ways to counteract when you get the urges. So it is very similar there are also gambler anonymous meetings just like you have AA and NA, and they run on a 12-step program very similar to the other anonymous meetings.”


She provided resource and contact information for those interested.


“If you or anyone you know has a gambling problem or you even have questions about it, maybe suspect there’s an issue, you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to 1-800-GAMBLER or you can visit our website at The myth to problem gambling and all those are listed on our website as well and there is also , on our website, a list of rules for responsible gambling to kind of know how to gamble responsibly and if it gets out of control to know that there is help available.”

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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