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The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) offers a wide range of services for problem gamblers and their families. They include:

-- A group session for people having problems because of their own gambling, as well as for those having problems because of someone else's gambling activities. An AFM counsellor provides information about problem gambling and describes the help that is available to prevent any further harm in people's life from gambling.

-- AFM provides free, confidential individual counselling for people having problems because of their gambling or having problems because of someone else's gambling.

-- An eight-week gambling treatment group is held one evening a week. Two trained AFM counsellors provide education and support.

-- The continuing care group provides ongoing support for those who have completed the gambling treatment group or the residential program. The group meets weekly with a counselor.

-- Telephone counselling is available for people unable to meet in person with a counsellor.

-- The AFM offers a 14-day residential program for men and women at the Parkwood Treatment Centre in Brandon. Participants learn how gambling affects the mind, the body and relationships between family members. Couple counselling and financial information is also available.

-- The 24-hour AFM problem gambling helpline is free and confidential. It provides information and referrals and is available in several languages. Call 1-800-463-1554.

-- GamTalk is an online community for people with gambling issues to share their experiences. http://www.gamtalk.org/


The AFM says you might have a gambling problem if you:

-- spend more time or money on gambling than you can afford or had planned.

-- borrow money to gamble.

-- gamble with money meant for essentials, such as food or rent.

-- neglect important responsibilities, such as work, school or family, to gamble.

-- lie about or cover up the extent of your gambling.

-- chase your losses to try and get your money back.

-- argue with your friends and family, especially about money issues.

-- have unpaid bills and increasing debts due to your gambling.

-- feel regret about your gambling behaviour.

-- think about gambling a lot.

AFM tips for family and friends of problem gamblers:

Gamblers may be able to keep their activities a secret by doing one or more of the following:

-- lying about how they spend their time and money

-- controlling all the family's finances

-- directing their mail to their place of business or a post office box

-- obtaining credit in their name only

-- forging signatures for personal loans or mortgages

-- Problem gamblers often need encouragement to obtain professional help or support, and they may not be able to control the problem without this help.

-- Visit your financial advisors (banks, RRSP accounts, etc.) to make sure you have control over the finances that you are able to control.

-- Don't let the gambler have unnecessary access to cash and credit that you can control on your own.

-- Put your family on a budget that allows for spending money, but not access to money required for necessities.

-- Don't take on the gambler's debt.

-- Don't sign anything you don't understand without professional advice.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 12, 2013 A6

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