March 6, 2017

Veterans Service Officer
Town of Abington
500 Richard F. Gliniewicz Way
Abington, MA 02351

Re: Problem Gambling support services available to veterans and their families

Dear Veterans Service Officer,

I am writing to ensure that you are aware of services available to veterans and their families regarding problem gambling addiction, and to ask for your assistance in making sure that veterans in your communities are aware of these services as well.

We have seen gambling addiction impact far too many people and their families, often leading to loss of jobs, severe debt, relationship failures, and depression. According to recent studies, veterans are more likely to suffer from gambling addiction, and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission is conducting a further study on the issue.

The Government Accountability Office also recently completed a study in which they recommended that the Department of Defense treat problem gambling consistently with other addictive disorders and screen all active military members for problem gambling disorder.

We know that veterans are often reluctant to seek proactive help regarding problem gambling and other addictive behaviors. That is why we are seeking your help to get the word out and to urge veterans to seek assistance. If you become aware of veterans in your community who may be dealing with gambling addiction, we encourage you to have them contact the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling’s helpline at 1-800-426-1234.

This is the state’s only 24-hour helpline for problem gambling addiction. We have staff who are specifically trained to help veterans and understand the unique challenges they may face. Our helpline is also available to answer your questions or questions that family members may have.

The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling is committed to supporting active military members and veterans who may be confronting gambling addiction. We also are so thankful for the work that you do each and every day.

If you have additional questions or suggestions for ways we can further support our veterans on this important issue, please contact myself or Jackie Dias at our office at 617-426-4554.

Thank you again for all you do.

Marlene Warner
Executive Director, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling


by Jodie Nealley,Intervention and Recovery Support Coordinator, and Scott Melissa, Human Resources Director,Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

The last three recovery themed blogs talked about relapse prevention, maintaining ones recovery and alternative ways to stay in recovery. Another essential tool of long lasting recovery is employment.

Maslow’s hierarchy, seen below, lists employment right above basic physiological humans needs.



Being in recovery is difficult, but having steady, fulfilling work can be a great asset in its maintenance.

by Jodie Nealley, Intervention and Recovery Support Coordinator, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling and Amanda Poggenburg, Prevention Specialist

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” Viktor Frankl (1946)

Human beings are not all the same. This realization, of course, is nothing new, but it is good to keep in mind when thinking of treatment for those afflicted with gambling disorders. The MA Council’s 24/7 Helpline Specialists generally recommend a combination of one-on-one counseling, either in an Outpatient setting or with a private practitioner trained in gambling disorders, AND a group setting, either a group therapy meeting (Thursday nights at Mt Auburn Hospital in Cambridge) or a group such as Gamblers Anonymous, Bettors Anonymous, or Smart Recovery.

By Jodie Nealley, Intervention and Recovery Support Coordinator, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

The major goal of recovery is maintaining it.  Last week’s blog was about Relapse prevention but that is only a part of recovery. Developing ways of maintaining your recovery is crucial. One of the greatest threats to recovery is thinking you have a handle on your gambling. Thinking this can lead to complacency – taking your recovery for granted. It is important to consistently remember that you are powerless over your gambling, that gambling if left unchecked will lead ‘to the gates of prison, insanity or death’. (GA Combo book)

Early Recovery is defined as learning how to live free of a bet. Long term recovery is defined as pushing yourself to grow as a person. In order to maintain long term recovery you need a Recovery Plan.

This plan is something a compulsive gambler in recovery needs to implement on a daily basis.

By Jodie Nealley, Intervention and Recovery Support Coordinator, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

There are many tools someone in recovery from gambling can have in their recovery tool box.  An understanding of relapse prevention, and the development of a relapse prevention plan is among these tools and is a good start toward maintaining recovery. Learning about relapse prevention is important for those of us with gambling disorders, those who love us and those who treat us.

Studies indicate that the highest risk of relapse is often within the first 3 months of recovery. (Hunt et al., 1971). But let’s be clear: Relapse can happen to anyone in recovery from a gambling problem whether they have been in recovery for a week or for 30 years.

by Sasha C. Russell, Communications Specialist, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

September 2014 marks the 25th National Recovery Month. Organizations and governments across the United States are encouraged to endorse this month through proclamations, and recovery-focused events.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “In its 25th year, Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders. This year’s theme, ‘Join the Voices for Recovery: Speak Up, Reach Out,’ encourages people to openly speak up about mental and substance use disorders and the reality of recovery, and promotes ways individuals can use to recognize behavioral health issues and reach out for help. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.”

by Sasha C. Russell, Communications Specialist, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

Advocacy is at the core of our mission at the Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling. We advocate for services to help people with gambling disorders, their families, and the greater community. We work with businesses, corporations, organizations, and the industry to ensure responsible public policies for state-supported gambling.

by Meaghan Lyver, Communications Intern, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

A fact sheet recently posted by Havoscope states that currently in the U.S. $99 out of every $100 wagered on sports betting is illegally placed. According to the 

By Sasha C. Russell, Communications Specialist, Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling

Recently several Council staff members got together to view The Anonymous People. While the documentary did not discuss gambling disorder, the message is still relevant to the field of problem gambling and to people in recovery for gambling disorder.

by Margot Cahoon, Communications Director, The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling 

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Orlando, Florida to attend the National Council on Problem Gambling’s 28th National Conference on Problem Gambling: Pathways to New Possibilities. The staff and volunteers from both the National Council and the Florida Council were wonderful. They were professional, well-organized and accommodating, all helping to make for a top notch experience.