Updated: March 28, 2013 6:33AM
ELGIN — While the Baltimore Ravens were big winners at this year’s Super Bowl, some football fans lost thousands of dollars betting against them.
And while for most people it’s a harmless way to have fun, for the problem gambler it’s the beginning of the end. Some gamblers will not stop until they have lost everything — their home, car, job, family and friends, notes the Renz Addiction Counseling Center.
According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, “1 million U.S. adults are estimated to meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year, while another 4 to 6 million would be considered problem gamblers.”
This year’s theme for National Gambling Awareness Month in March is “Problem Gambling: A New Understanding of a Community Concern.” It focuses on how problem gambling hurts the whole family — young and old, rich and poor — and how even the innocent have to deal with the consequences of those losses.
To help raise public awareness during National Gambling Awareness Month, the Renz Center is offering free gambling assessment screenings in March at its Two American Way location in Elgin. The center also is offering free treatment throughout the month for individuals in need of counseling. Appointments for assessment screenings are encouraged but not necessary.
“When a family member starts lying about how much time and money he is spending gambling, he may have a gambling problem,” said Patti Anderson, Renz Center’s certified gambling counselor. “Renz Center is offering the gambling assessment free to encourage people to get tested before their addiction compromises their personal, family and career pursuits.”
Signs of a gambling problem include loss of interest and participation in normal activities with friends and families, time unaccounted for, missing possessions or assets, and changes in attitude and personality. Gambling problems also may be evidenced by neglect of personal needs (such as food, utilities and medical), secrecy, avoidance when discussing time and money, and depression.
Renz Center provides a continuum of care dedicated to the prevention, intervention and treatment of addictive behaviors related to alcohol, drugs and gambling. Services range from prevention programs for youth in the schools to outpatient treatment programs for adolescents and adults.
Offices are located in Elgin, St. Charles and Streamwood.
Renz Addiction Counseling Center is a nonprofit organization funded in part by the federal government, Central Kane County United Way, the Illinois Department of Human Services, Hanover Township, Geneva, and St. Charles 708 boards, and other local community organizations.
To find out more about Renz Center’s programs, call 847-742-3545 or visit www.renzcenter.org.