Abe Keita (Franciscan priest)  
A new Rehabilitation Center was established at Hodogaya (Yokohama City) in April of last year to treat problems of dependency. The name of the center is Nujumi - it means Hope, in the Okinawa language - and shelters women affected with dependency symptoms from gambling.
Up to now there have been established such centers for men affected with such diseases originated from gambling, where they receive training to adapt to society again. Since people were demanding a similar center for women affected with the gambling dependency, the group "Nujumi" finally could start activities in December 2004. Thanks to the support of the Nakahara Catholic Church (City of Kawasaki), where most of the meetings took place and financial support from the Yokohama dioceses and the citizen's Challenge Fund, a local political party assisting the Kanagawa's Network Movement, a building could be rented by JR Hodogaya Station last year and the new center was opened. At present, the center's staff visits churches of the diocese of Yokohama to raise awareness on gambling dependency and methods of rehabilitation, attending, at the same time women affected by such dependency illness.
Most people are, usually, unfamiliar with the expression "women with gambling dependency," but there are many suffering from such dependency. In fact, the American Psychiatry Association has been dealing with "Pathological gambling since 1982 and the World Health Organization (WHO) produced Guidelines for its diagnosis, considering it a disability.
In Japan, the "Leisure White Book" published the results of research done by the Pachinko Association in 2006. According to it, there are over 19 million people playing pachinko and slot machines in Japan and about 20% have an addiction tendency. Then, supposing that about 3,800,000 are pachinko addicts, if we add to them those addict to horse racing and other, the numbers of gambling addicts are quite big. The above mentioned studies suggest that one out of two pachinko users are women, thus women addicted to pachinko could be in the vicinity of 1,300,000.
Again, according to the HP of one of the specialized Hospital, the Akagi Kogen Hospital, there are more men than women affected by Problem Gambling in the USA and the same tendency goes on with younger people. When it comes to middle age people, the male-female proportion is even. Attention is also given to women in the 30-40 age bracket that start gambling because they usually fall rapidly into problem gambling disease.
At present, especially in Tokyo and Kanagawa prefecture, gambling addicted persons are organized in "Gambling Anonymous" (GA) to get rid by themselves from the disease, working in discussion groups. Such GA groups were originated in Los Angeles (California, USA) in 1957 and later on, in 1989, they started activities in Tokyo. Actually, there are about 50 meeting halls around Japan, where the GA groups gather.
The Nujumi Center has the task to mediate for the GA, so that women affected with the gambling disease obtain the right knowledge and information on the disease and are able to live a life without gambling, so that their recovery proceeds smoothly and they will not go back to gambling again. Whenever there is a request, Nujumi goes to talk and discuss the processes of the recovery of women addicted to gambling and the difficulties and suffering proper to women. And in order to tackle the financial and debt situations of the addicts to gambling, the Nujumi center contacts lawyers, judicial scriveners and officials, in order to provide support services in legal, psychiatric and other medical fields to improve the situation of the patients. At present, it makes public appeals to obtain more understanding and social support. In the future, it plans to receive a NPO legal status.

The Nujumi Center is already 1 year old. Its members continue their activities of more awareness on the dependency issues and care for women suffering from such addictions.

The Nujumi Center

Iwaicho 122-12-101, Hodogayaku, Yokohamashi,
Tel. 045-743-5854
E-mail: nujyumi070211@family.nifty.jp
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