The Lao Community
How do communities respond to problem gambling when “traditional” recovery methods, such as 12-step programs, aren’t a part of the culture?
The Minnesota Department of Human Services partnered with the Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota to explore Problem Gambling Awareness within Twin Cities Southeast Asian communities.
It marked the beginning of a multi-year listening process, as community volunteers shared vital insights and perspectives. With participation from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, a multifaceted picture emerged, revealing divergent approaches to addiction issues and family dynamics. It became clear that “traditional” 12-step treatment methodologies had little currency since reaching beyond one’s family for help or support was generally regarded as a socially inappropriate option. This required development of culturally relevant messaging, with an emphasis on prevention and personal responsibility.
This process was intensely collaborative, with multiple concepts developed. The volunteer committee favored a strategy incorporating a range of messages for use in print posters and social media. Themes included finding balance in life, harmony in the home, and the benefits of not risking one’s financial income.
Creative work was produced in Lao, with English translations, featuring diversity in ages, gender, contemporary and traditional clothing styles, and incorporating such phrases as: “Choose your path of life properly.” and “I stopped gambling. My life is better, and my future is brighter.” All materials feature contact information, including the Lao Assistance Center’s phone number and website – both trusted community resources.
One component of the creative work was a narrative video starring real people from the Lao community. In-depth storytelling is valued in the culture which resulted in a video that is over four minutes in length. It depicts a family’s dynamics and struggles with a member who is consumed by a gambling problem. It concludes with phone numbers to the Lao Assistance Center and the Minnesota Department of Human Services problem gambling helpline.