The serious effects of gambling and its impact on the well-being of a person’s mental and physical health and productivity in the workplace were some of the items discussed at the recently held Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre’s Overcoming Gambling Addiction Symposium held last week under the theme, “Gambling: Fun or Addiction.” The inaugural symposium was designed to raise the level of awareness surrounding gambling in the workplace and community, and bring together clinicians from various health sectors and addiction fields to develop a better understanding of what ‘problem gambling’ and ‘gambling disorders’ are. Organizers also aimed to assess how to better serve individuals and families experiencing gambling problems, and to advocate for clinical training opportunities to increase problem gambling treatment capacity locally, and ultimately to seek to provide individuals and families with the basic tools and resources to respond to problem gambling in their lives.
Eighty-eight (88) participants from the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre, Princess Margaret Hospital, Department of Public Health and members of the public attended the symposium. Internationally renowned psychiatrist and therapist Dr. David Allen was the featured presenter, addressing the topic Harmful Effects & Prevalence of Gambling Addiction in the Bahamas. He commended the event organizers encouraging them to continue forums that provide information and engage the public. Dr. Allen further urged mental health professionals to, “take the initiative into the community setting in order to
reach the larger population of patients requiring urgent intervention and assistance.” Putting words into action, he announced that his practice, The Renascence Institute International, is now offering a Pro Bono (i.e. no fee/or free) Compulsive Gambling Confidential Treatment Program for persons facing the disorder and desiring treatment.
The symposium was hosted by the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre’s Addiction Professionals in conjunction with the Training and Development Department. In a continuing initiative, addiction professionals are advocating for specialized training in the field of addiction in order to adequately meet the needs of this largely overlooked population, and as a first step, they are proposing to make this symposium an annual event.