Every Story Matters — Especially Yours!

By: Abdullah Mahmood

When I tell people about my work at Maryhaven, they typically know of the organization – that we’ve been around for 70 years and have served more than 300,000 individuals. They also usually know about our Gambling Intervention Program, which has been around for more than a decade.

But what I stress back to them is that we didn’t get to where we are overnight or by taking any shortcuts. Every one of those 300,000 people matters.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month, and this year’s theme, “Every Story Matters,” is a reminder that every narrative, battle and triumph related to problem gambling is significant. Throughout the month, Maryhaven and our partners at the state and national levels aim to elevate these stories, fostering understanding and support to break down stigmas and emphasize that when it comes to problem gambling, Every Story Matters.

One client recently revealed they had lied to others about having stopped gambling when they hadn’t, yet they still had the wherewithal to continue treatment and eventually stop lying about it – a realization that their success story and pathway to recovery required honesty.

Another client expressed gratitude this week when, after calling the state helpline that morning and being referred to Maryhaven, was able to have an initial session with us by lunchtime.

After all, the longer someone waits to confront the issue, the higher the likelihood of things like depression, bankruptcy, theft, divorce and even suicide. There are no physical symptoms of a gambling addiction, so it’s these major crises that result.

As newer members of the team, Janet Thode and I will be out and about this Problem Gambling Awareness Month (#PGAM2024), offering information at the casinos/racinos and with partner organizations. We’re happy to join your organization too! (just complete this form to get started)

Also worth noting is Gambling Screening Day (March 12th), which calls for organizations to add a problem gambling screening question or two to forms they are already using. By asking one of these questions, you can help a friend, family member, or even a stranger realize that it’s time to rethink their actions and/or have a confidential conversation with a counselor.

So please, ask!

  • In the past year, have you been preoccupied with gambling?
  • Have you needed to gamble with larger amounts of money to get the same feeling of excitement?
  • Have you often gambled longer, with more money, or more frequently than you intended to?
  • Have you made attempts to cut down, control or stop gambling?
  • Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?

If you or someone you love answers “yes” to any of these questions, it’s worth having an initial conversation. At Maryhaven, our goal is to help you tell the best chapters of your story! Our team of experts at Maryhaven are here for you or a loved one, via phone (614-324-5425) or web (https://maryhaven.com/gambling/contact/), whether it be asking a simple question or needing initial resources, all the way to treatment options.

About the Author

Abdullah Mahmood

Administrative Coordinator, Maryhaven's Gambling Intervention Program

Abdullah Mahmood, LSW, LCDC III-GAMB, OCPSA, first started working with clients with opioid use disorder at Maryhaven, four years ago. He has worked extensively in prevention, treatment, administration, as well as having direct services with clients on MAT, clients with substance use disorder, and clients struggling with gambling.

 

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