Seek state's gambling program for help
March 3 to 9 was National Problem Gambling Awareness Week. As director of West Virginia's 1-800-GAMBLER program I often hear about lives destroyed because treatment wasn't sought in time. People tell me how they plough their whole paycheck into a slot machine, or cash their Social Security check at the bingo hall only to walk out empty-handed. They say they started out gambling for fun, or thinking they could win money to pay bills, but became desperate to win back the money they lost.
An estimated 1 percent of the population has a gambling addiction, and another 2 to 3 percent show symptoms of the disorder. We have received almost 11,000 calls for help from people here in West Virginia, and more than 1,500 of those calls came from Kanawha County. Almost a third of our callers admit resorting to illegal activities, like embezzling from their workplace, writing bad checks, or stealing from their family, to finance their gambling.
Many of our callers have lost jobs or marriages because of a gambling addiction. Some say they have even left their children unattended to gamble. We often hear from angry spouses who were unaware of their loved one's gambling addiction until they discovered mortgage payments were missed, or their savings and retirement accounts were drained.
The good news is that we have a great program in this state to help problem gamblers, and treatment really works. Statewide, we have more than 90 therapists who specialize in gambling addiction treatment. Most people who seek help from us are able to recover. If you or someone you love is spending too much time or money gambling, call us at 1-800-GAMBLER for free help.
Patty Deutsch, Director
Problem Gamblers Help Network of West Virginia
Doesn't take long for selenium to get toxic
There was a remarkable House Judiciary hearing the 28th of February. It involved a measure to increase the Allowable Selenium concentration in West Virginia streams.
Selenium is widely found in soils in nature, and associated with coal. In almost infinitesimal amounts it is required in the human diet, to produce certain enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts and very, very small quantities affect reactions involving much larger quantities of necessary materials the body needs. Like many other nutrients. somewhat larger amounts are highly poisonous. The saying in toxicology is "The dose makes the poison," implying tiny amounts may be tolerated, even needed, but somewhat more is toxic.