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Posted By: The Hope and Healing Agency                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Date: 12/23/2018      


Bipartisan Bill on Sports Betting Includes First- Ever Federal Funding for Problem Gambling 

     WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan bill outlining a Federal framework for sports betting was introduced on Wednesday by US Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Charles Schumer (D-NY). If passed, the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 would establish protections for consumers among other measures. The bill includes provisions for Federal funding dedicated to problem gambling (which encompasses gambling disorder and gambling addiction), the first time such a provision has ever been included in any Federal bill.
Among the bill’s consumer protection provisions:
·    Appropriates $5,000,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services for gambling addiction research. 
·    Dedicates revenue from the existing Federal sports wagering excise tax to programs for the prevention and treatment of gambling disorder as well as law enforcement.
·    Establishes a nationwide self-exclusion service that people with gambling problems can voluntarily use and that sports betting operators in all states can utilize to honor these requests for prohibiting personal bets.
·    Puts in place a variety of gambling-related consumer protections, including disclosure, advertising.
Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), said, “We thank Senator Hatch and Senator Schumer for their leadership in addressing problem gambling. This bill provides the first-ever dedicated Federal funding for gambling addiction prevention, research and treatment programs. These measures are a critical first step to addressing problem gambling across the country, balancing the costs and benefits of legalized gambling.”  
While NCPG strongly supports these provisions, it takes no position on the overall legislation and remains neutral on legalized gambling. 
In May 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Federal prohibition of state-authorized sports betting. Since the decision, eight states have joined Nevada in legalizing sports betting. As many as 30 more states are expected to consider sports betting legislation in 2019. The National Council on Problem Gambling expects that many states will choose to allow sports gambling, resulting in a massive expansion of gambling opportunities (including online sports betting) and a corresponding increase in gambling participation and gambling disorder, unless significant steps are taken to minimize harm. 
In response, NCPG developed the Safer Sports Betting Initiative (SSBI) that includes Responsible Gambling Principles for Sports Betting Legislation, a set of standards designed to protect individuals, gaming companies, and legislators. The only national non-profit that works with constituents on all facets of gambling, NCPG works to minimize the economic and social costs associated with gambling addiction, and is currently conducting the ground-breaking National Survey of Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences (NGAGE). The survey will provide baseline statistics to measure the impact of this expected gambling expansion going forward and will also enable evidence-based, data-driven responsive measures. The NGAGE survey data is expected to be released in January 2019.


Dennis George Coates, MA, LPC, NCC, ICGC-1

 Posted By: The Hope and Healing Agency                                                                                                                                                       Date: 11/14/2018                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Gambling Addiction Lecture Coming to Veterans Memorial Library- November 29, 2018


 A public lecture on gambling disorders and suicide attempts at Veteran’s Memorial Library on Nov. 29.

The library, located on 301 S. University Ave., will play host to a lecture that is put on by Dennis George Coates from the Dearborn-based Hope and Healing Agency at 6 p.m. that night, according to lecturer Dennis George Coates.

Coates, in addition to founding the Hope and Healing Agency, worked for Veterans Affairs from 2001 until his retirement in January of this year. He is also part of the speaker’s bureau at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Click Here to read the entire article posted by Morning Sun! 

The Address of the Library is as follows: 
Veterans Memorial Library
301 S. University Ave. 
Mount Pleasant, MI 48858
We hope to see you there! 
Dennis George Coates, MA, LPC, NCC, ICGC-1



 Posted By: The Hope and Healing Agency                                                                                                                                                       Date: 11/02/2018                                                                                                                                                                                                 


The Difference between Education and Experience (Cont.)


    Welcome to my second blog post in the Series “Education and Experience”.  In 2002, I was employed as a Readjustment Counseling Specialist in the Department of Veterans Affairs “Vet Center” program.  This happened shortly after I was hired.  I was working alone one night and a veteran called me and said he was planning on ending his life.  I was able to get his name, phone number and address and we spent 15-20 minutes talking-this did not change his mind, however.  I knew I had to send out a 9-1-1 call for the police to go to his home and do a “Welfare check” and, if necessary, take him into protective custody and transport him to the Emergency Room at the local VA Hospital.  However, I was working alone and did not have a cell phone.  What to do?  I had a duty and responsibility to stay with this veteran until his self-harm crisis was over yet I had to send help as well.  I knew from my training that you NEVER put a distressed patient on hold yet I had not figured out a way to get him the help he needed.  I decided to explain to him what I need to do (place him on hold and call 9-1-1), come back and talk with him until the police arrived. He expressed an understanding of what I needed to do and why.  He was less distressed at this time, so I placed him on hold, made the 9-1-1 call, went back to him and we chatted until the Police arrived.  He was safe and my duty to him was completed at that time.  However, I had to write a crisis incident report that would be read and reviewed by my supervisor, his supervisor and his supervisor.  I was told it might even be reviewed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs himself.  So, I wrote the report and detailed everything I had done-including putting him on hold.  It did not take long before the word came down-“You NEVER put a distressed veteran on hold”=which, of course, I knew.  I was told that if the Veteran had of taken his life during the brief time he was on hold, that the Root Cause Analysis and Mortality and Morbidity Report-which are done when a veteran takes their life-would lay the blame entirely and totally on my shoulders and I would be in a big world of hurt.  There were no written reprimands, no suspensions, nothing in my “record” just a stern warning not to EVER do it again.  End of story?  Not quite…I had the opportunity to meet with one of the third level supervisors who reviewed the report and cautioned me about never doing it again and I asked her what my options were in that situation.  This was her answer “Well, you could have got him talking about something he was really interested in, laid the phone down and gone to another office and called 9-1-1”.  I KID YOU NOT.  This woman, who I remember quite well but will not identify her here, had a PH.D in psychology and decades of experience.  I asked her :” Doc, you want to rethink that one”?  She said “No” and remained steadfast and adamant that you NEVER put a distressed veteran on hold.  You may ask why I did not have a cell phone and use that?  I simply wasn’t using one at the time.  In closing, I do NOT have a PH.D but I cannot imagine a better way to drive a veteran to take his life than by setting the phone down, while he is talking, and walking away.  In defense of the good Doctor, it was 6:45 am and she had not had her coffee yet!  Till next time!!!

Dennis George Coates, MA, LPC, NCC, ICGC-1

Posted By: The Hope and Healing Agency                                                                                                                                                                Date: 11/01/2018      

The Difference between Education and Experience


     The Hope and Healing Agency values the experiences of our patients above our education, licensure, certifications and credentials. This does not mean that those things are not important because they are BUT they only serve as the foundation of our philosophy.  Please join me as I tell the story of how I learned that lesson-the very first one lesson of thousands.  During my graduate work at the University of Detroit-Mercy and University of Northern Colorado, I had several classes on group psychotherapy and how it needed to be run.  These classes consisted of academic lectures and the actual practice of group therapy-the practice one was held over a three day period, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 8 hours a day where there were no lectures whatsoever, just group therapy with my peers.  My first thought was this is going to be easy, all I have to do is sit here, in a circle, on the floor,  for 24 hours over the next three days, write an essay after each session and get my grade.  I could have NOT been more mistaken!!  It was the hardest class I ever had, but I digress.  The cardinal rule was that group had to be done in a circle.  This was stressed over and over-A Circle, A Circle, A Circle.  When I began to practice full time-starting in April 1997, group was always in a circle…not necessarily on the floor, though.  In May of 2001, I was hired as an addiction therapist by the Veterans Health Administration at the Detroit VA Medical Center.  I had been practicing full time for 5 years and group was always done, you guessed it, in a CIRCLE and believed that principle to be sacrosanct… A CIRCLE.  I soon found out that this was not true.  As I walked into my very first group at the VA, I announced “Let’s put all our chairs in a circle”.  A Viet-Nam Veteran (United States Marine Corps) began my first lesson and shattered what I had taught…He does not even address me but begins to speak to his peers in the group.  It went like this (I will replace his profanity with symbols): “I don’t know who this white college boy @#$% thinks he is but I’ll be %^& if I’m gonna sit in a circle with nothing solid at my $%^%  back.  No @#$ way am I gonna do that, #$%^ must be crazy”.  At this point, I had enough sense to not insist on the circle and apologized to him and that I would check with my supervisor.  He smiled and said “that’s ok, man but you got a lot of #$%^ learning to do”.  I proceed to run the group with him and his peers sitting in a square-their backs all to the wall.  I don’t even remember anything else about that group, except that first real life lesson.  When group was over, I went to my supervisor and talked it all over with him.  I was told that I had not realized that there were combat veterans in the group and they, typically, don’t like to sit anywhere without their “six” -their back-covered.  Secondly, I was told that the principle of the circle was not the circle ITSELF but to keep group members from hiding behind other people-so a square, or any other geometric design was fine, as long as no one was hiding behind anyone else.  I went back to the group, told them how much I appreciated them educating me and what I had also learned from my supervisor.  That is one reason why  I value the experiences of patients above my education.

Dennis George Coates, MA, LPC, NCC, ICGC-1