The Ambassador Project is a gambling prevention program funded through the state Department of Health’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS). 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 to lead conversations about problem gambling prevention in their communities.
This pioneering approach to gambling education will be launched in the spring of 2019 in Gándara Center’s BSAS-funded peer recovery support centers: PIER Recovery Center of Cape Cod, Brockton’s Stairway to Recovery, and the Hope for Holyoke recovery center. The Ambassadors will provide outreach to organizations and institutions to establish collaborative partnerships in order to access peers at high risk of developing problem gambling and will 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.