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Gambling addiction: A silent struggle for many Asian Americans

Gambling addiction: A silent struggle for many Asian Americans

Hoang is one of three Vietnamese gambling addiction certified providers in the state and the only one based in Orange County, which is home to approxi

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Hoang is one of three Vietnamese gambling addiction certified providers in the state and the only one based in Orange County, which is home to approximately 200,000 Vietnamese Americans, according to the 2010 Census.

He said that in Orange County, there aren’t any anti-gambling campaigns or initiatives specifically targeted to the Asian American community.

Culturally tailored treatment is important when it comes to gambling addiction. There needs to be more bilingual and bicultural clinicians who can approach the issue knowing the ways it’s different from other forms of addiction since its impact often spills over beyond the problem gambler, Hoang noted.

“To help the individual, we need to work with the whole family,” he said. “That’s very relevant for our Asian community, because we are family- and community-focused rather than just focused on the individual.”

Michael Le, 25, of Los Angeles, remembered the financial stress he experienced because of his mother’s gambling addiction. When he got a job in college, he was torn over whether to send her money. When he did send, his budget for food shrunk. At times, he would resort to asking his dad for money to cover his own bills, he said.

In early months of the pandemic, after decades of living with gambling addiction, Le and his family sought help for his mother.

Le said he remembered his mom’s addiction clouding communication within the family. She tried to hide her addiction, and as a result, the family never knew how she was feeling. She also didn’t know how to ask for help, he said.

The family sought and continues to receive help from the California Gambling Education and Treatment Services (CalGETS) program, which offers free gambling addiction treatment. Maivia said about 16,000 people have received services through the program, about 11 percent of whom have identified as Asian.

Le said he and a few of his family members, along with his mom, are also receiving treatment through CalGETS. Over the last several months, the family has learned how to approach Le’s mother and allow her to be vulnerable about her addiction. He said one of his family members has become less reprimanding and more accepting of the addiction.

He added that the biggest transformation is that his mom has slowly become more open about her problem, which has helped the family navigate through the issue.

Community advocates have called for more research on the impact of gambling addiction on Asian Americans. A 2019 report from researchers at the University of Massachusetts-Boston called in particular for more study on its impact in Cambodian and Vietnamese communities.

Hires noted that both communities established themselves in the U.S. more recently than other groups, like Chinese Americans, so there’s even less resources to support them with gambling addiction.

“For those particular communities, they’re both facing the same challenges,” Hires said. “And in ways, it’s even more dire.”

The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Council has partnered with three other groups, including those that serve Cambodian and Vietnamese communities, to conduct research on attitudes toward gambling.

“We wanted to make sure that for this problem, which isn’t just in the Chinese community, we get the data to really make the case for services for the wider Asian community,” he said.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call the National Council on Problem Gambling for help at 1-800-522-4700, or go online at ncpgambling.org/chat.

Source: | This article originally belongs to Nbcnews.com

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