Problem Gambling & Addiction: National Trends and MN Communities

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Hamline University, Anderson Center Room 111/112

774 Snelling Avenue North

Saint Paul, MN 55104

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Presentations and discussion on problem gambling, gambling disorders and other addictions within MN immigrant and refugee communities.

About this Event

Minnesota has a long history of welcoming immigrant and refugee groups, yet cultural disparities within the addiction treatment arena continue to be an area of challenge and concern. Please join Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance and Hamline University as we discuss trends in problem gambling and addiction within Minnesota’s immigrant and refugee communities and explore ways in which prevention, intervention and treatment programs can be designed to address these needs.

In a two-part session we’ll first look at recent national data on problem gambling trends to provide context to a study that examines patterns in the Lao community in gambling and problem gambling as well as attitudes around help seeking for problem gambling. A panel discussion will follow and focus on the challenges and lessons learned.

The second half will address co-morbidity addiction issues in the Karen community. The panel discussion will focus on accessibility, integration, destigmatizing and designing programs to be culturally appropriate.

Doors open 8am – breakfastProgram begins 8:30

Welcome Marcela Kostihova, Dean of College of Liberal Arts, Hamline University

Introductions Susan Sheridan Tucker, Executive Director Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance (NPGA)

NGAGE (National Survey on Gambling and Gambling Experience) Don Feeney, President of NPGA

Study of Lao Gambling, Substance Use, and Help Seeking Attitudes Dr. Serena King - Professor Hamline University

Survey data from a community-based convenience sample of Lao refugees (n=200) on gambling behaviors, problems and help seeking. The presentation will cover the impact of culturally informed assessment of gambling problems. Non-traditional help seeking approaches may be common among southeast Asian refugees.

10:15 BREAK

10:30-11:00am Problem Gambling Co-morbidity Issues in the immigrant community

The Karen Chemical Dependency Collaboration: Cross-Sector and Cross-Cultural Collaboration to Reduce Substance Use in a Karen Community - Jennifer Simmelink McCleary, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota at Duluth

The Karen Chemical Dependency Collaboration is a group of Karen leaders, social service providers, law enforcement officers, educators, and primary care providers working to develop programs that address substance use in the Karen community. In this talk we will describe our collaborative process, some of our successful programs, and discuss our vision for health equity in refugee communities.

11:00 – 11:50 Panel Discussion, Q&A/Action Items We’ll focus on success of the Karen community model and how that model could be replicated in other cultural communities. Discuss some of the challenges in collecting data – yet how important it is to collect it – language, trust, history of trauma and sensitivities to approaching/acknowledging. How do we create a pipeline of community representatives within the mental health/addiction field – what can we do to promote such a pipeline? Respond to the audience questions/comments.

Wrap up Susan Sheridan Tucker


Don Feeney is President of the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance, the Minnesota affiliate of the National Council on Problem Gambling. He was co-founder of the Alliance and has served on its board since its inception in 2001. Don also served on the Board of Directors of the National Council on Problem Gambling from 2002 to 2016 and was President from 2011 to 2013. From 1991 to 2017, he served as Research and Planning Director at the Minnesota Lottery, where he was responsible for the Lottery’s market research, policy analysis, corporate social responsibility programs, and strategic planning. Don now serves a consultant and designed the NGAGE Survey for the NCPG.

Serena King is Professor of Psychology. She is a clinical psychologist and received her Ph.D. and M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and her undergraduate degree in psychology with honors from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Serena has a record of published research in the area of addiction (substance use disorders and gambling addiction) and also has scientific and teaching interests in deviant, acting out behaviors (behavioral impulsivity).

Sunny Chanthanouvong is the Executive Director and has been with the Minnesota Lao Assistance Center since 1992. Starting as the director of the youth program, in 2001 he was promoted to the Executive Director. Ever since than he has worked to maintain and run the organization as a whole, from administration to day-to-day operations. He oversees all of the programs that the Lao Center has to offer and is certified in many different fields. Sunny is a board member of Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance

Vilamone Tran is Lao Center’s Health Project Coordinator. She leads and manages the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. She designs, directs, and provides education to program participants and coordinates & leads health events in a culturally appropriate setting and language.

Jennifer Simmelink McCleary is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, Duluth and a co-founder of the Karen Chemical Dependency Collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience working in social work practice and scholarship with Karen and other refugees in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Yussuf Safie, CEO of Alliance Wellness Center, MSW, LGSW a graduate of the University of MN. Yussuf is an active and well-respected member of the addiction community. He is a licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor ( LADC) with the Board of Behavioral Health. He completed his internship with the Community University Health Care Center as a Social Work Triage Specialist, and he continued on as a Mental Health Practitioner with CUHCC. In 2015, Yussuf opened Alliance Wellness Center in Bloomington, MN, a DHS licensed Substance Abuse Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment Program. He is Board member of the Minnesota Trauma Project and Minnesota Recovery Connection.

Nway Linn is the Treatment Director of Wilder Recovery Services (WRS) since May 2017. Her passion to share knowledge and support clinicians who are interested in serving Southeast Asian populations with co-occurring disorders. She strives to bridge the gap between indigenous healing and western clinical services to effectively and respectfully support Southeast Asian community members and their families to heal from trauma and respond to their addictions.

Susan Sheridan Tucker, Executive Director Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance. Susan has over 25 years in nonprofit management and advocacy work. She joined NPGA in August 2018.

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Hamline University, Anderson Center Room 111/112

774 Snelling Avenue North

Saint Paul, MN 55104

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