Gambling Prevention: the Ambassador Project

The Ambassador Project is a problem gambling prevention program funded through the Massachusetts Department of Health’s Office of Problem Gambling Services. The programming involves a peer support model that trains men of color who are in recovery to have gambling prevention conversations with other men of color with a history of substance abuse. The goal is for them to lead conversations about problem gambling prevention in their communities.

This pioneering approach to gambling education is taking place in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS)-funded peer recovery support centers that include Gándara’s PIER Recovery Center of Cape Cod, our Stairway to Recovery center in Brockton, and our Hope for Holyoke recovery center. The Ambassadors provide outreach to organizations and institutions to establish collaborative partnerships in order to access peers at high risk of developing problem gambling and facilitate groups and individual conversations with them.

Research has shown that men are at a significantly higher risk than the general population for gambling, as are people of color and people with a history of substance use. The Ambassador Project is a community centered and culturally responsive effort to educate about the connection between gambling and other behavioral health-related disorders.

Participatory peer-to-peer prevention efforts with populations at risk have shown to be a powerful, effective, and sustainable—especially at Gándara’s recovery support centers. Massachusetts’ statewide implementation of the Ambassador Project is emerging as a promising strategy for problem gambling prevention and has the potential to emerge as an effective strategy nationally.

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