PRESTONSBURG - Area mental health professionals attended a seminar on compulsive gambling on Wednesday. The event was housed at the Mountain Arts Center and featured an intense and often entertaining presentation by Scott Walker, who is a certified counselor who treats the disease and works for Mountain Comprehensive Care in Prestonsburg.
The meeting was sponsored by the Kentucky Council on Compulsive Gambling and was part of the group's week-long program focusing on gambling as being an addiction that is drawing a surprisingly high number of women.
There were plenty of handouts available spotlighting the various issues related to compulsive gambling, as well as resources for treating the disease that covered the gamut from anonymous meetings to services for families that must struggle with a compulsive gambler in the household.
The highlight of the program was the seminars that were run by Walker. He was an engaging speakers who used a blend of important facts, great storytelling and intense passion to highlight key issues related to gambling addictions.
Walker highlighted the warning signs of compulsive gambling, which include:
Constantly dealing with bill collectors
A partner who stays away from home often
Gambling in order to solve financial problems
Consistently promising to stop gambling but never delivering on that promise.
Michael R. Stone, executive director of the council, was present for the forum and thanked local groups for supporting the program. He noted that in attendance were representatives from the University of Kentucky Woman's Institute, Mountain Comprehensive Care counselors and criminal justice professionals.
Stone had praise for the drug court program which is being spearheaded by Judge Eric Hall for residents of Floyd County who want to stop doing drugs and need the help of the courts to combat their addiction. Stone mentioned that drug court had sent representatives to the meeting and said, "What we need here is a gambling court. A pilot program was started by a judge in Amherst New York."
The purpose of a gambling court would be to prevent crime by chronic gamblers by helping to remove the addiction.