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The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is seeking to raise awareness about problem gambling, noting that March is National Problem Gambling Awareness Month.
"Our message of prevention is that gambling is not a risk-free activity," DMHAS Commissioner Pat Rehmer said in a news release Friday. "If you make the informed choice to gamble, it is important to make sure it's legal and you know how to keep the 'problem' out of gambling."
Nationally, between 8 and 12 million people meet criteria for gambling problems, the agency said. Recent studies have found that 90 percent of Connecticut adults have gambled in their lifetime and nearly 90 percent of Connecticut high school students have gambled in the past year.
People receiving treatment for substance use and mental health disorders are at significantly higher risk for developing gambling problems, the agency said. Problem gambling is associated with depression, alcohol misuse, legal issues and higher use of mental health treatment.
Warning signs of a gambling problem may include deterioration of work performance, concentration problems, missed deadlines, frequent borrowing of money, gambling to escape boredom, pain or loneliness and lying to loved ones about gambling, the agency said.
For more information about services to help problem gamblers, visit www.ct.gov/dmhas/problemgambling.