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Gamblers Anonymous offers meetings in Riverton

May 6, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

She describes herself as "an average person," but one who has a gambling problem.

"I have a compulsive gambling problem and I was searching for help and you just kept running into walls," said the woman, who requested to remain anonymous along with her friend for the interview.

Both responded to what they feel is a dearth of help available in the area for people with gambling problems.

After contacting the national Gamblers Anonymous organization, the two women have started a weekly meeting to address people with gaming problems.

"If there are other people out there -- and I know there are -- that have a gambling problem, they need to know we're here and it's an anonymous group and we're here to help each other," one of the organizers said.

The meetings happen every Monday night at 6 p.m. at the Church of Christ, 39 Gas Hills Road, in the Riverton area. The Church of Christ is sponsoring the support group.

The organizers are not trying to criticize the gaming business operating in Fremont County by starting the Gamblers Anonymous group.

"We're not here to bad mouth the casino in any way. They're not the problem. Gambling is just an activity," one of the organizers said. "There are a lot of people in the world that can gamble for entertainment ... but there are others where it gets out of control and it starts to affect other parts of their life."

Participants can find help from each other at the meetings. "Being anonymous is so important," one organizer said. "It's not counseling. We're not counseling. It's just support."

Her friend added: "We're just trying to find a way -- even if there's only two or three more people that come and if you can talk about what triggers you to go the casino -- ways that we can stop the triggers."

The group is hitting its one-month anniversary and the organizers want to spread word about the meetings to reach as many people who need help.

"When I did go to that first G.A. meeting, I came out of there for the first time feeling hope, and it really did mean a lot that there were other people that have gone through the same," one woman said.

"It's important to have somebody have similar types of issues so you don't feel like you're alone," she said.

The website www.gamblersanonymous.org, which lists the Fremont County support meeting, includes a list of 20 questions that can help people determine if they have a problem.

Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling? Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy? Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?

"We don't charge money. We don't accept money. We just try to encourage one another to not gamble," the other organizer said. "It's just one friend helping another friend."

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