The stage was set for the 34th Annual Statewide Conference on Compulsive Gambling. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) put together an impressive lineup of speakers, presenters and exhibits to help spread awareness about problem gambling, and how it affects multiple cultures across NJ. Although the CCGNJ is known as a gambling and sports betting hotline around the Meadowlands (NJ), according to Neva Pryor, Executive Director of CCGNJ, they also take pride in organizing seminars and conferences like this one.
Among the list of treatment professionals in attendance was Dr. Sachin J. Karnik, Ph.D., LCSW, LCDP, CADC, NCGC-II, CPS. Dr. Karnik delivered a fact-filled presentation chock-full of photos, charts and scientific data. His workshop emphasized compassion and mindfulness to help treat those who deal with problem gambling.
Dr. Karnik’s workshop explains gambling within the context of cultural diversity, and highlights serious issues including co-occurring disorders and cross-addiction potential (combining drugs with gambling). One of the main objectives of the presentation was to “bridge together fragmented areas in the addictions and promote greater understanding of how culture shapes reality.”
The presentation was easy to understand yet saturated with specifics and details regarding the science behind problematic behaviors. It appealed to a diverse range of audience members and broke down the basics of gambling, addiction and behavior associated with gambling addiction. A couple of points that Dr. Karnik addressed included:
- While using alcohol or drugs in conjunction with gambling stints, you can experience blackouts, which can lead to destructive behavior that you do not even remember displaying. The presentation explained what exactly a blackout is: “The hippocampus is the part of the brain involved in blackouts. The hippocampus is important to memory and is sensitive to the effects of central nervous system depressants. Blackouts are periods in which a person may seem to be functioning normally, but later has no recollection of what one did.”
- Preventing a problem before it occurs can be difficult but very beneficial. Measures can be taken to educate children about the risks of gambling and drugs to deter future issues. According to Dr. Karnik’s slideshow: “The mission of universal prevention is to deter the onset of substance abuse by providing all individuals with the information and skills necessary to prevent the problem. The entire population is considered at risk and able to benefit from prevention programs.”
Dr. Karnik’s workshop (and the conference itself) was an overwhelming success. Connections were made, best practices were shared and knowledge was exchanged across the venue.
If you are interested in learning more about the organization that put together the event, the CCGNJ suggests that you visit http://800gambler.org. The CCGNJ provides guidance and support for problem gamblers who partake in everything from slot machines to sports gambling in East Rutherford, NJ. If you know anybody who needs help, we are here to help however we can.