News Release

November 19, 2004

Contact: Kristina Goodnough, 860-679-3700

Holiday Season Can Be Trouble for Problem Gamblers

UConn Health Center Offers Free, Individual Therapy for Problem Gamblers

FARMINGTON, Conn. – Family togetherness is a wonderful part of Thanskgiving for many people, but for some it triggers stress and feelings of panic. Those feelings can be particularly risky for problem gamblers, explains Nancy Petry, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the Gambling Research and Treatment Center at UConn Health Center.

“Family-related stress can send problem gamblers to the casinos for an escape during the holiday,” Petry said, adding that people who don’t have families and close friends are often at risk for problems with gambling. “Many people gamble because they are lonely, bored or stressed. These moods can be more common during the holiday season,” she said.

Dr. Petry notes that an estimated 5 percent of the American population is addicted to gambling and is at higher risk for financial woes, family and relationship strains and suicide.

Petry has the following tips for people who may be worried about their gambling:

  • Don’t bet more money than you feel comfortable losing.
  • Don’t wager with borrowed money—not from your spouse, your parents, the rent money, the bank, or the credit card.
  • Find something to do besides gambling if you need a break from family togetherness. Try a movie or dining out. Sign up for an exercise program or take up a hobby.

Petry has received a new, five-year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study treatment interventions for problem gamblers. All participants in her study receive eight weeks of free, individual therapy.

For more information, call the Health Center’s Gambling Treatment and Research Center toll-free, 1-877-400-0570. All calls are confidential.

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