gambling addiction studentsMarch Madness is winding down, and if you've played the brackets, this stat from the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) probably won't surprise you: 75% of college students have gambled in the last year.

Both legal and illegal gambling have high addiction rates. MentalHealthTreatment.net points out that gambling addicts rack up between $50,00 and $90,000 in debt every year. That's significantly more than most colleges' annual tuition. The NCRG is taking a stand against this addiction and on Tuesday, March 29, NCRG launched a new website, CollegeGambling.org, in an effort to curb gambling addiction among students.The website features four sections geared toward different audiences. One encourages campus administrators to address students with the gambling issue and includes a toolkit to help initiate discussions. The free package offers facts and statistics, a PowerPoint presentation, and even fact and Q&A handouts.

There also are sections for health care professionals on campus and the parents of college students. Here, the NCRG provides a list of gambling resources, including a 24-hour help line. Health care workers can use the site to find information about diagnosing and treating addicts. One of the diagnostic tools takes the form of a 20-minute, anonymous test that students take online to help determine addiction. The website also provides tips on how parents can discuss concerns about gambling with their children.

Finally, there's a section of CollegeGambling.org that's devoted to students' questions about gambling addiction. Here, the NCRG provides an interactive quiz to test users' knowledge about gambling and gambling disorders. The quiz helps inform by pointing out statistics and laws on betting. It clearly lists the warning signs of an addiction, such as declining grades, behavioral changes and exaggerated displays of money or material objects. A guide to responsible gambling is also featured as a way to direct students toward a healthier approach to the pastime.

Educators, scientists and health professionals joined efforts to provide the research and resources for NCRG's newest effort to stop college gambling addiction. Representatives from big name colleges, including Columbia University, Harvard University and McGill University, were a part of the advisory committee for the website. Officials from the American College Health Association's Mental Health Best Practices Task Force and the Alcohol and Other Drugs National Knowledge Community of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education also joined in on the creation of CollegeGambling.org in an effort to inform and help students with gambling addictions.

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