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BOOK PRESENTATION

 

The Editor

 

Guí an Phobail: Ar Ócáidí Éagsúla

9781847309310 • €4.99

An tAifreann Sochraide: Padireacha agus Machnaimh

9781847309303 • €4.99

An tAifreann Bainise: Léachtaí, Padireacha agus Beannachtaí

9781847309259 • €4.99

Veritas Publications, 2019

Más cosúil liomsa nach bhfuil ach cúpla focal Gaeilge fágtha agat, ach ba mhaith leat léacht nó paidir a usáid ó am go ham, tá na leabhráin seo as Veritas idéalach.

     With these three booklets, I feel better equipped for those occasional requests – usually at a funeral or wedding Mass – to include a prayer or reading in Irish. An tAifreann Sochraide and An tAifreann Bainise do not include any of the ritual texts, but have good selections from which to pick a first reading, Psalm, second reading and Gospel. In addition, you’ll find prayers of the faithful, along with blessings and reflections.

     Guí an Phobail: Ar Ócáidí Éagsúla is also a lovely resource, containing a wide variety of bidding prayers. Among the occasions for which prayers are provided are tragic deaths, months minds, Fathers’ and Mothers’ day, particular moments in the school year, and celebrations and commemorations of various kinds. These liturgical gems are well worth having.

 

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GAMBLING ADDICTION IN IRELAND

Causes, Consequences and Recovery

9781847308863 • €12.99

Colin O’Gara • Veritas Publications, 2019

Very few pastors are clinically trained or in clinical practice, and for the vast majority of us, what is required is sufficient insight to realize when it may be appropriate to encourage someone we are dealing with in a pastoral setting to seek specialist help.

     This short, readable book by a consultant psychiatrist is full of valuable insights, not only for problem gamblers and their families, but also for pastors. The numerous case studies in the book put a human face on the problem of gambling, in addition to underlining the fact that recovery, even with its pitfalls, is genuinely possible.

     What is the extent of problem gambling? There are no large-scale surveys of the Irish situation, but it’s likely that up to forty thousand Irish people are severely affected, with many more affected to a lesser extent – not counting those who suffer as a result of problem gambling in their loved ones. Add to this the fact that only ten percent of problem gamblers receive treatment, and it is clear that, as the author puts it, ‘many Irish people are suffering in silence.’

     Problem gambling is defined as ‘the continuation of gambling in the face of adverse consequences.’ In recent years it has come to be seen as a specific addiction, like alcohol or drug addiction. Professor O’Gara notes: ‘This is an important classificatory change in terms of acknowledging the pain and suffering of those affected by the condition and will hopefully also reduce the stigma associated with the illness.’

     Unfortunately, the availability of treatment services in Ireland is poor, and affected individuals ‘may have to navigate generic addiction services to find help with gambling problems.’ There is no dedicated residential centre for the treatment of gambling disorder, and the small number of individuals who receive resident treatment are catered for in centres that deal with multiple forms of addiction. Most treatment takes place in an outpatient setting, and it may include medical help, counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

     O’Gara mentions internet gambling several times during the course of the book. The internet has facilitated problem gambling by making it easy as picking up one’s smartphone. While there is a general call – including, apparently, from the gambling industry – for greater legislative control of gambling, little if any legislative progress has been made.

     I have found this a very practical book. A chapter entitled ‘Treatment and Stages of Change’ looks at what can be expected as an individual enters and progresses in recovery, from the early months, when enthusiasm is high and support is strong, to the subsequent waning of enthusiasm and possibility of relapse, to the work entailed in the long-term maintenance of recovery. As in any recovery from addiction, relapse is possible, but the author is careful to stress that relapse does not mean that long-term recovery is unattainable.

     The importance of mutual support groups is also emphasised: they are ‘the mainstay of non-professional help.’ The author is a strong advocate of Gamblers Anonymous, and he outlines their twelve-step recovery programme. A chapter is dedicated to self-help strategies, including controlling one’s environment, managing loneliness and isolation, restricting the viewing of live sport, removing access to online gambling, management of withdrawal symptoms, and general self-care. The financial side of gambling is also considered, and there are some pointers on the management of money; as the author notes: ‘if there is ready access to funds, the risk of gambling increases.’ There are also concrete, point-by-point actions plans for individuals affected by problem gambling, and for their families.

     Professor O’Gara’s realism is matched by the firm hope that recovery is possible: ‘we regularly encounter patients and their families making amazing recoveries. These recoveries are often from what appear to be pretty daunting circumstances.’

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