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Mental Health Counselor Discusses Problem Gambling photo

National Problem Gambling Awareness Month ends tonight, and a Tampa Bay counselor has made a name for himself treating excessive gamblers and their families.

Dr Damon Dye, EdD is a licensed mental health counselor; his new book, "Know When to Hold Em: A Guide for Spouses of Problem Gamblers" offers tools and resources for those in the recovering process. He spoke with Kate Lochte about an issue that isn't often talked about.

"Since we're not talking about it, many of those people are struggling in silence," Dye said. He estimates some two million Americans have a gambling problem.

About 45 percent of that are women.

Dye says one of the hardest steps in the recovery process is recognizing the problem. Gambling invokes the pleasure centers of the brain, releasing dopamine.

"That is a very powerful force. Something we want to replicate," Dye said.

There are other factors that can lead to a problem too, most commonly the desire for money.

Dye says it can take years for a gambler to recognize a problem, even if spouses suspect something's wrong. Signs can include personality changes, random disappearances and avoiding financial discussions

"For family and friends, loved ones, it can be devastating; the discovery that someone has a gambling problem and the management of all the frustration, anger and panic," Dye said.