Anyone can become a problem gambler, regardless of age, race, religion, education, economic status or moral character. If you think you may have a gambling problem, or know somebody who does, don’t chance the odds. Confidential and free professional help is only a phone call away. The National Responsible Gambling Programme - a public/private sector initiative - is the only one of its kind in Africa. It was founded in June 2000 and is acknowledged internationally to be exceptionally well-funded and among the most comprehensive in the world.
The NRGP has these operational components:
· Education and prevention
· Treatment and Counselling
· Problem Gambling Counselling Line
The problem gambling counselling line service consists of a team of counsellors who provide callers with a multilingual 24/7 service.
Types of help available
These telephone counsellors are able to:
Provide information about the service to would-be referrals and referrants
Counsel problem gamblers over the telephone when referral for treatment is not required or requested
Facilitate the referral of problem gamblers to the treatment network when indicated
Deal with crisis calls, hoax callers and non-problem gambling calls in a positive manner
Integrated Care Programme (ICP)
How exactly does the Integrated Care Programme – the heart of the NRGP’s process – function? Everyone is familiar with the general referral-and-treatment process, but the devil lies in the details, because the ICP deals with the most difficult and unpredictable piece of “software” in the world – the human being.
The ICP is set in motion when a problem gambler takes the first and most difficult step of all, namely admitting that he or she has a problem, and then goes on to something almost as difficult: calling the problem gambling counselling line and asking for support.
Once he (or she) has taken that second step the ICP starts rolling. The client is referred to a treatment professional, and, if sincerely desiring help, undergoes a course of treatment.
When the treatment has been completed the client is referred back to the problem gambling counselling line. The counsellors (where possible the counsellor who made the original referral) supports the client by making calls one month, three months, six months and eighteen months after completion of treatment, with more frequent calls if the client requests them.
The primary aims of the calls are to provide support for clients’ resolve to change his ways, and also to identify clients who have relapsed or are going through a difficult period and are in danger of relapsing.
Depending on the need, the counsellor handling the case will support the client by telephone, urge him or her to attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings or request further ICP treatment.
The ICP’s scope has grown over the past few years. Initially it ended after seven sessions with the treatment professional concerned. Then telephone follow-ups were instituted, and thanks to the new computer programme which was installed in 2005 it will be possible to conduct the follow-up calls on an even more systematic basis than before.
These follow-up calls play another valuable role, of course. Because contact with clients is maintained for so much longer, the ICP can gather valuable statistics which were out of reach in the original dispensation, allowing better forward planning and improvement.
Recreational gamblers gamble on social occasions with friends or colleagues. They have pre-determined acceptable losses and by and large their gambling activities cause little harm and their behaviour is associated with minimal guilt. They simply require information and education on gambling behaviour in order to make sensible decisions.
Problem gambling has been defined as gambling behavior that creates negative consequences for the gambler, for others in his or her circle, or for the community.
Compulsive and pathological gamblers have a psychiatric disorder diagnosable by strict clinical criteria. It is regarded as a disorder of impulse control and has a very poor prognosis. Such gamblers have an inability to control their gambling, with consequent significant damage to themselves and others. They are often very difficult to treat. They constitute less than 1% of gamblers.