Surgeon General's Report: An Essential Tool for Addressing Substance Use Disorders

April 2, 2018
H. Westley Clark MD, JD, MPH, DFASAM
Dean's Executive Professor
Public Health Program
Santa Clara University

Facing Addiction in America image

I spent 16 years as the Director of the Center for SubstanceAbuse Treatment trying to elevate the discourse about substance use, misuse and dependence.  It was not until I retired, that the discourse about addiction was joined by the Office of our Nation’s doctor, the Surgeon General

In November of 2016, The Surgeon General’s Office released the groundbreaking document, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health (SG Report). This document, which was the first from a Surgeon General, thoroughly outlined the neurobiological underpinnings of substance use, misuse and dependence, as well as effective, evidence-based treatment and prevention strategies for facing addiction in America. Please join Dr. Clark on the 

Reducing Stigma and Improving Quality of Care: Shatterproof

March 27, 2018

Samantha Arsenault,
Director of National Treatment Quality Initiatives

More than 42,000 opioid-related overdose deaths last year. Over 2 million people addicted to opioids. Costs to society exceeding $500 billion per year in lost productivity, healthcare, and criminal justice costs. The tragic opioid-related statistics continue to soar—and so too does public awareness about this crisis. Newspaper headlines share heartbreaking stories of loss, advocates work diligently to spread messages of hope, providers deliver care to those in need even in trying conditions, and the President declared a public health emergency. Despite these facts, too few understand that addiction is a chronic disease, and that decades of medical research show it can be treated with the same effectiveness as other chronic diseases. 

Midwest Consortium on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse: Upcoming Conference Celebrates 15 years

March 20, 2018

Carol Spiker, LAC, CPP, KCGC
Problem Gambling Program Manager
Behavioral Health Services Commission
Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services

Image of a man and a dice

Gambling is an activity in which something of value is risked on a chance that something of value might be obtained, the outcome based on chance. Organized gambling has grown tremendously in the U.S. since the 1980’s because many people have been willing and eager to spend money in exchange for a chance at something bigger and better than what they have.  States have legalized and expanded gambling with the promise of substantial economic benefit and tax revenue.

Responsible Gambling Programs

March 13, 2017
Christine Reilly
Senior Research Director
National Center for Responsible Gaming

Warning messages on gaming machines. Self-exclusion programs. Programs to limit money and time spent gambling. These are just a few responsible gambling strategies in use around the world. Responsible gambling (RG) refers to programs that seek to prevent or reduce gambling-related harms. The impetus behind these programs derives from the public health shift from a reactive posture of trying to eliminate disorders that have already occurred, to a proactive force that seeks to promote positive health behaviors and prevent diseases before they emerge (or at least mitigate their effects).

Source: Independent Gambling Authority

The rise in responsible gambling strategies is a response to this trend of health promotion. Enacted in government regulations, as well as in voluntary programs developed by gambling operators, responsible gambling programs have proliferated in legalized gambling jurisdictions throughout the world. However, are these programs safe? Are they effective? A review of the scientific literature by the leading gambling researchers indicates a dearth of science-based, peer-reviewed programs in this area. Why is peer-reviewed research important? Quality research will answer questions about safety and effectiveness. For example, is self-exclusion an effective intervention? Are limits on time and money wagered safe or do they in some cases cause people to gamble even more than they intended? These questions must be answered to protect people and to ensure that the considerable expense of these programs can be justified as effective. Here a few examples.

Voluntary self-exclusion programs, typically operated by
casinos, online gambling sites and gaming regulators, give individuals the opportunity to exclude themselves from gambling opportunities. Typical programs remove the enrolled person from marketing databases. Some authorize staff to remove the enrolled person from the premises and to deny cash prizes to those on the self-exclusion list.

What the research says

Research indicates that self-exclusion is safe and, for some gamblers, an effective intervention. However, more research is needed to ascertain the long-range impact of the program and to determine the most effective features of the program. For example, it is not clear what the optimum time limit for the ban should be.

Another responsible gambling strategy is to educate gaming employees about responsible gambling and gambling disorder. Research indicates that employee training can improve employees’ knowledge of responsible gambling. However, there is no evidence that increasing knowledge among casino staff can help employees accurately identify casino patrons with a gambling disorder.

In conclusion, the field does not yet have a systematic approach for assessing the quality of research on RG. Instead, a haphazard approach to developing and adopting RG programs has characterized RG efforts. Policymakers and the gambling industry should take a cautious and conservative approach to RG until quality scientific research provides a roadmap to safe and effective programming.

Winning Reads for Problem Gambling Awareness Month

March 5, 2018
Maureen Fitzerald
ATTC Network Coordinating Office/NIATx

We've rounded up a few great resources to help you stay up-to-date on the latest in prevention, education, and treatment for problem gambling--not just during Problem Gambling Awareness Month, but year-round: