In the human service field, prevention typically consists of approaches or activities that seek to reduce specific problems, increase or maintain health and overall well-being and promote desired behaviors.
Problem gambling prevention programs for youth are important because scientists learned that the adolescent brain is still growing, which accounts for frequent impulsive behavior and unwise decisions of teenagers. In addition, youth are trying new things and making mistakes along the way.
Research shows teenagers and college-aged young adults are more impulsive and at higher risk for developing gambling disorders than adults. According to a Harvard University study on pathological gambling in the United States 1.6 percent of adults and 3.9 percent of adolescents have a pathological gambling problem. Another 3.9 percent of adults and 9.5 percent of adolescents experience problem gambling behaviors. Further research indicates adolescent minorities gambling problems are two to three times higher than white adolescents.
Students with gambling problems are more likely to use tobacco, drink heavily or binge drink, smoke marijuana or use other illegal drugs, drive under the influence and have a low GPA. In fact, children who are introduced to gambling by the age of 12 are four times more likely to become problem gamblers.
The NCPGP offers mini grants ranging from $1,800 to $5,000 to implement an evidence-based program called Stacked Deck to middle schools, high schools and at-risk community-based programs.
Stacked Deck is effective in preventing and reducing the risk of problem gambling among teens and young adults. Offered in five to six sessions that extend from 35-45 minutes each, the program is aimed at changing gambling-related attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and practices. The Stacked Deck curriculum is interactive, including activities such as role-playing.
Participants have designed posters and produced videos with prevention gambling messages. In addition, the curriculum includes take-home “family pages” to engage parents and other family members in the program. Participating students are tested on the curriculum before and after the intervention. All instructors are trained on the curriculum and are provided with all of the tools to be successful.
The NCPGP offers mini grants up to $5,000 to universities and colleges to promote problem gambling education and outreach to students, faculty and staff. The program initially followed a three-pronged approach with focus on screening for problem gambling, outreach programs and policy changes to include a campus-wide policy on gambling.
To include more colleges and universities that may not have formal counseling centers, the program broadened its approach to include programs that best fit each campus. Colleges and universities across North Carolina receive grant funding to increase outreach events and raise awareness of the problem gambling services available. Departments, such as counseling centers, marketing and graphic design, collaborated to create outreach materials.
The NCPGP provides trained clinicians throughout the state who are available to provide presentations on topics relating to problem gambling. Please contact the NCPGP prevention coordinator to schedule your presentation, at no cost. You are not required to have a current prevention program grant to request a speaker.
A few examples of training include:
- Understand problem gambling and resources
- Youth problem gambling prevention
- Family impact of problem gambling
- Athletes and problem gambling
The Sure Bet workshop series is for clinicians and college and university faculty and staff. This workshop series provides a solid foundation in understanding problem gambling. It gives grantees an opportunity to be ambassadors of the program and helps them better understand the purpose and impact of the prevention programs. CEUs are provided for those that qualify. The prevention program grant can be utilized to cover the costs for training
The Stacked Deck training is for middle school and high school administrators, counselors and teachers, as well as at-risk community-based programs. The training covers problem gambling and the six lessons in the curriculum. All organizations receiving the grant will need to attend training. CEUs are available for the Stacked Deck training that occurs during the summer for school staff. The prevention program grant can be utilized to cover costs for traveling to the training. The training is no cost to grantees or perspective grantees.