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From the Executive Director: October 2017 Newsletter

From the Executive Director


I would like to extend a personal invitation to everyone reading the Council Connection to attend our 35th annual Statewide Gambling Conference. The theme of this year’s event is ‘The new frontier in gambling treatment’. This is a great opportunity for like-minded people to get together in a relaxed but professional atmosphere to learn and share experiences about Disordered Gambling.

This year’s Keynote Speaker is Dr. Marc Potenza from Yale University in Connecticut. Dr. Potenza is a board-certified psychiatrist with sub-specialty training and certification in addiction psychiatry. He is a Professor of Psychiatry, Child Study and Neurobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine where he is Director of the Problem Gambling Clinic, the Center of Excellence in Gambling Research, holding other positions as well.

Our Plenary Speaker is Dr. Alyssa Wilson from Saint Louis University in Missouri. Dr. Wilson is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Missouri. Dr. Wilson created the Saint Louis University Gambling Addictions research laboratory, where she works with graduate students on translational and clinical research projects related to gambling.

There will be workshops hosted by Jessica Alomar, LPC who facilitates a free gambling psychoeducational program, as well as serving on the Board of Directors for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. Jeffrey Beck, ICGC-2, BACC, J.D., ABD, Vice President, Board of Directors, National Council on Problem Gambling; Chair, National Problem Gambling Awareness Week; President, American Compulsive Gambling Counselor Certification Board. Tony DeMarco, LL.B., J.D., Ph.D., DNGH., a member of the Board of Directors for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. Dr. Demarco is the Co-founder and chief-advisor to the National Association of Certified HypnoCounselors and counseled many gamblers, drug addicts, alcoholics, their families, friends, loved ones, and significant others. And Sachin Karnik, PhD, NCGC-II, LCSW, CADC, CPS, is the Director of Prevention and Criminal Justice for the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems.

This year’s conference is being held in East Windsor, NJ at the Holiday Inn on Monmouth Street. This is the same location as last year because of it’s easy access, excellent meeting facilities and great food!
I hope to see you all there.

Best Regards,

Neva Pryor, MS

Executive Director

Treatment Provider Spotlight

Frances L. Gizzi

Frances L. Gizzi is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Certified Clinical Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Social Worker, Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor level II, and a Reiki Master. She has been working in the addictions field for more than 25 years and is now in private practice. Fran sees more than 20 clients weekly.

The more I learned about gambling, the more outspoken I became even before I earned my certifications. As an undergraduate at Kean University, I ran the first all-day conference on addictions. Since then I’ve presented workshops for the Council on Compulsive Gambling of NJ, the Association of Professionals Treating Problem Gambling, the National Association of Social Workers and was the plenary speaker and workshop presenter at the Mid- Atlantic Addiction Training Institute (MAATI) at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, PA.

Eighty percent of my clients are gamblers or family members. I also treat alcoholism, adult children of alcoholics and those suffering from other mental disorders. Co-occurring disorders are very common and need to be uncovered for behaviors to change and prevent relapse. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy along with breath work and education are typically used at the beginning of treatment. Later on, I may use a guided meditation or other modalities. Guidance into the first 3 steps of the GA program can help clients discover their spiritual self and “a new way of thinking and living” without gambling.

Gamblers have great minds. Once they understand how their brain has been high-jacked by gambling they can begin to make progress and are very willing to help another struggling gambler. I don’t think of clients as success stories, I see them more as people who have showed unbelievable courage in facing the demons in their life.

I have a large family, 5 daughters, 3 sons-in-law, 11 grandchildren, special friends and a wonderful church community with which I am involved. I live what I teach and so I live “one-day-at-a-time” recognizing the future does not belong to me. I find that as I age, my interest in helping others deepen their spiritual connection has become very strong, especially since the death of my husband in 2012. I am a busy, but happy woman.

Gambling and Medications

Submitted by Pamela Wade, BS

Persons experiencing gambling-related problems tend to have higher rates of poor to fair general health. This could be due to neglecting their health where gambling is seen as more important than physician visits (time away from gambling activity), co-pays and not filling medications because they would rather gamble the money. Often the gambler will engage in alcohol, smoking and substance use while gambling which can lead to other health issues such as anxiety and depression. This anxiety and depression may become worse as their gambling problem escalates.
The three main approaches to treating Disordered Gambling involve Mutual Aid, Psychotherapy and Medications. When one is experiencing the excitement of gambling, a neurotransmitter called dopamine (which is a chemical messenger) is released in the body and passes information from one neuron to the next. This is what triggers the behaviors and emotions while gambling.
While there are medications that appear to be effective in treating Disordered Gambling, there are medications that may cause uncontrollable urges to gamble or may lead to Disordered Gambling.

Medications (Opioid Antagonists, Serotonin-Specific Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Antidepressants and Mood Stabilizers) that may be effective in treating Disordered Gambling are:

Naltrexone (Opioid Antagonists)

Nalmefene also known as Revex (Opioid Antagonists)

Paroxetine also known as Paxil (SSRIs)

Fluvoxamine also known as Luvox (SSRIs)

Citalopram also known as Celexa (SSRIs)

Escitalopram also known as Lexapro (SSRIs)

Nefazodone (Antidepressant)

Bupropion also known as Wellbutrin (Antidepressant)

Lithium (Mood Stabilizer)

Carbamazapine (Mood Stabilizer)

Valproate (Mood Stabilizer)

Topiramate (Mood Stabilizer)

35th Annual

Statewide Conference on Disordered Gambling

September 15, 2017

Dr. Marc Potenza – Keynote Speaker


Dr. Alyssa Wilson – Plenary Speaker

What makes a ‘Disordered Gambler’?

People use lots of terms often interchangeably to describe what is now considered a psychiatric disorder. In fact, gambling is classified as a substance-related and addictive disorder listed in the fifth and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2013). This classification comes because of evidence that gambling behaviors activate reward systems within the brain similar to the reward systems activated by drug use. People who suffer from a gambling disorder will have some of the same or comparable behavioral symptoms as people with a substance use disorder. People with gambling or substance use disorders may have lost important relationships, they may have lost employment or had attendance problems at work or school. A gambling disorder often starts during adolescence or early adulthood but can manifest earlier or much later in a person’s life just like a substance use disorder. Gambling disorders and substance use disorders usually develop over a period of years but can be more rapid.

As the gambling disorder progresses, a pattern of increase in both the frequency and amount of wagering is seen. This is similar to a pattern of increase associated with substance use like sedatives or marijuana. Some people who develop problems with substance use or gambling early in life grow out of it while others have life-long problems. Like substance use disorders there is treatment available for a gambling disorder. A person seeking treatment for an addictive disorder involving substances or gambling might go to a residential facility, an out-patient facility, or join a 12-step fellowship. Support, treatment, and hope are available by calling 1-800-GAMBLER, a free, confidential helpline available 24 hours per day or by sending a text to 1-800-GAMBLER. Additional resources can also be found online at Lastly, if you have any questions about the Council, you can contact Neva Pryor, Executive Director at 609-588-5515 or via email at

For a complete calendar of events, listing of services, and printed materials please follow this link:

Find a Federally Qualified Health Center

Persons experiencing gambling-related problems tend to have alarming rates of poor to fair health because they often engage in alcohol consumption, smoking and substance use while gambling. They also experience anxiety and depression. Due to these challenges and the negative effects of disordered gambling on one’s health, one should seek medical attention with their physician or medical attention at the nearest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) near them.

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