In central Ohio, Maryhaven is known for helping clients who are struggling with mental-health conditions or who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. But as an increasing number of local families deal with gambling addiction, Maryhaven leaders are hoping to extend help to those affected by what can be a "hidden addiction."

In central Ohio, Maryhaven is known for helping clients who are struggling with mental-health conditions or who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. But as an increasing number of local families deal with gambling addiction, Maryhaven leaders are hoping to extend help to those affected by what can be a "hidden addiction."

According to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, about 1.5 million people in Ohio are affected by pathological gambling. In Franklin County alone, the department says 54,000 people are in danger of developing the disease.

Maryhaven leaders cite multiple studies that suggest that for every gambling addict, the lives of between eight and 10 family members or friends are affected, bringing the estimated number of Franklin County victims closer to 500,000.

In response, Maryhaven is taking its free One More Chance program -- which focuses specifically on gambling addiction -- on the road, visiting three sites around Columbus and one in Westerville within the next month.

Bruce Jones, the administrative coordinator of the program, said he hopes to reach addicts or their loved ones who might be unaware of an existing problem.

"It's really just getting the word out about gambling addiction," he said. "It's such a hidden addiction. I can't see it in your eyes; I can't smell it on your breath; I can't see it in a urine screen. By the time people come for help, they've usually lost so much."

Jones said he knows that family members will be the target audience for the seminars.

He said many family members of gambling addicts find themselves "blindsided," and he hopes to help them work through their anger, set healthier boundaries and get financial education to help them move forward.

"There's no diagnosis to give them, but we're there for support," he said. "They're going to have their own issues."

Maryhaven is collaborating with research and strategy firm the Collective Genius for the seminars.

Colin Baumgartner, who is helping work out the logistics for the format and strategy of the program, said he hopes to be able to pack as much information into the seminars as possible.

"Trying to get all this information into a (90-minute) class is a challenge," he said. "There's a wealth of information available and we're just trying to put it into a digestible format for folks. We know there's a variety of people we'll be talking to at these seminars."

Jones said he isn't blaming all the problems on Columbus's Hollywood Casino, which opened in 2012, though he said it may contribute to the addictions of some. Jones said he is just as concerned about lottery tickets, bingo and other smaller-scale gambling that can be done anywhere.

While some of those activities are branded as helpful to the community, Jones said he isn't so sure.

"They know it brings in great revenue -- same with the casinos -- but what's the cost to the community or society?" Jones said. "With the treatment, white-collar crimes, theft and all that, what's the balance? It's usually on the negative end."

The One More Chance program is operating off of grant funding and a portion of state gambling revenue. If providers and participants find the programs useful, Jones hopes they'll spread to other parts of central Ohio.

"I'm hoping we'll be able to take this on the road and visit more communities," he said.

For more information, visit maryhaven.com/onemorechance or call 614-324-5425.

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