More Gambling Recovery Ramblings, Updates and News

Hello Recovery Friends and Welcome Everyone,

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Now I hope all of my recovery pals are not growing tired of me sharing all about my awesome friend Arnie Wexler and sharing his new book titled; “All Bets Are Off,” as it really is a fantastic look inside gambling addiction and how it can devastate a life. Arnie did a great job with writing this book and all the Amazon 100% 5 star reviews proves it! He shared with me another excellent book review by a prestigious CAMH ~ Journal of Gambling Issues. So I wanted to share it for those who have not had a chance to read his book. This book review will help you make that choice.. .. ..

Book Review of “All Bets Are Off” by: Author, Arnie Wexler:
By: Peter Ferentzy (2015) All bets are off: Losers, liars, and recovery from gambling addiction. Journal of Gambling Issues.

Rarely does a reader come across a text where integrity oozes out from between each line. That is always a treat, and Arnie and Sheila Wexler’s book is one of those. Perhaps this should not be surprising—after all, Arnie brings to the table a half-century of personal and professional experience in recovery from problem gambling (PG). In fact, as a PG scholar who has communicated with Arnie in-depth over the years, I can make a claim that few in the field would disagree with: No human being has devoted more time and sweat to this cause than Arnie Wexler. The one exception, perhaps, would be his co-author and wife, Sheila Wexler. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention Steve Jacobson, contributor, who assembled their narratives into a cohesive, beautifully written story—one in which many problem gamblers and their loved ones will recognize their own lives and struggles.

The authors use the designation “compulsive gambling” when discussing PG, which is favored by Gamblers Anonymous (GA), though generally in disuse by the scientific community. So what? “Compulsive” is just as good a word as “pathological,” “disordered,” or “problem.” Arnie is old school, and even though I disagree with him on many points (sometimes I think that Arnie and I disagree about everything), there is nothing wrong with old-school lingo, or even an old-school approach, so long as other options are present.

Arnie is an old-school gambler and an old-school tough guy, and it shows, even as he challenges ideas such as that drugs and alcohol are more dangerous than gambling. Of course, Arnie was in the game when most people thought just that, despite having a decent grasp on alcoholism and drug addiction. On page 1, Arnie lets you in on how he sees it (and how he sees himself): “I always knew I was going to be a compulsive something or other.” Yes, had the dice rolled just a little differently, maybe Arnie would be recovering from crack and booze (like this reviewer), and maybe this reviewer would have a history of compulsive gambling. No one can say for sure, and Arnie understands that truth with as much clarity as any researcher with whom I have worked.

The book is laden with sophisticated takes on complex issues (e.g., Arnie comes out as an agnostic with respect to PG etiology) and some really glaring generalizations (e.g., the “mindset” of the compulsive gambler is discussed with sweeping statements). So, on the one hand, Arnie understands how difficult it is to pin down causation and that, even if it were possible, the account would vary from one person to the next. On the other hand, he often claims that all compulsive gamblers think this way and that way. Even if many of these generalizations were true in the vast majority of cases, they could never apply to each one.

Let us recall, though, that the book is more experiential than scientific. Arnie often makes personal statements, and with full regard for how they are personal. So even though gamblers—according to 12-Step lore—are said to dream about yachts and such, Arnie apparently was an exception to that rule: “Most people who buy those $100 million lottery tickets enjoy a few moments daydreaming about what they’d do if they won: pay off the mortgage, buy a new house, a new car…. Not me. Nope. I just thought of paying off gambling debts and having some money left over to bet even more. That was my fantasy” (p. 8).

As gamblers go, Arnie was as pure as they come: “when I had a good day betting, I was so high I didn’t need sex” (p. 31). Sheila concurs: “Arnie wasn’t interested in making love” (p. 37). Later, she elaborates on this singular drive: “Over the years, I learned to understand the grip his addiction had on him. Even when he knew he was going to lose, he had to make a bet” (p. 40). After Arnie stopped gambling, so ended the high, and the book covers the struggles he encountered during those early years of his recovery, especially the depression. For his wife, the greatest struggle appears to have found the strength to forgive her husband. The two perspectives play off each other throughout the entire book, generating a dynamic that made me feel like I was a part of their reality.

Even after decades in recovery, Arnie explains how he is still an addict and therefore must always be vigilant. To illustrate, he tells the story about a time he was playing golf, and was surprised by a sign that greeted him at the second hole, advertising that a hole-in-one would win him a car. “I was shaking like a leaf as I addressed the ball. I was afraid to take a swing. I ‘accidentally’ knocked the ball off the tee, so…I was shooting for a hole in two…. I was safe” (p. 104).

This book will walk you through the world of GA in all its specificity, vis-à-vis other 12-Step programs. For example, in Alcoholics Anonymous, the fourth step involves taking a moral inventory, but in GA one needs to do a moral and financial inventory (p. 102). Arnie is not entirely uncritical of the 12-Step model, however, and freely expresses his disdain for the anonymity insisted upon by the fellowship. That statement, in itself, amounts to heresy in the 12-Step world, but Arnie feels strongly that disclosure is essential: Gamblers should stop hiding . . . .

That’s what Arnie thinks, and he says what he thinks.  Read More:

Additional Comments of Review:
“I would like to agree with Peter’s review of Arnie and Sheila’s book. Arnie’s a straight shooter who calls them like he sees them; no pretensions, just honest sincerity in trying to share their story and help people overcome a gambling problem. Arnie and Sheila’s commitment can’t be challenged, they continue to work with young and old, understand the pain that accompanies a gambling problem, and work tirelessly with individuals experiencing problems.”

Arnie is clearly among the greatest storytellers of all times (young clinicians and academics would be wise to sit next to Arnie or Sheila at a conference to get a historical perspective of the field from people who were there at the beginning). They continue to be in the trenches receiving calls at all hours from anyone in need of help and do their utmost to assist in any way possible. In every discussion with Arnie I always learn something new.

Thanks Arnie and Sheila!

Jeffrey L. Derevensky, Ph.D. ~ McGill University
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I was going to jump in and say the same thing, Jeff — I loved this review.
I thought that Peter did a really nice job of conveying the beauty of Arnie (and Sheila!) as we’ve all come to know and admire them — and occasionally, as we’ve probably all done in this incomparable forum at one point or another, disagree with them! — in an effort to help reduce the suffering of problem gamblers and their families.

Well done all ’round!

Bo J. Bernhard, Ph.D.
 Executive Director
UNLV International Gaming Institute
UNLV William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration and UNLV Department of Sociology

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AND THERE IS MORE! . . . .  Arnie was invited to be an Interview Recovery Guest  on Talk Recovery Radio.
I gave this interview a listen, I could SO relate to so much of what they talked about and discussed. So I urge all of you to take a little to yourself and give this LINK & Show a listen. It will knock your recovery socks off! LOL.
What I mean is it is very worth your time to listen to:   (Show)  (Website)
About Arnie & Sheila Wexler:

Arnie and Sheila Wexler currently work with Sunspire Health, a national network of addiction recovery providers. They work closely with facilities Sunspire Health Recovery Road in Palm Beach Gardens, FL and Sunspire Health Spring Hill in Ashby, MA where gambling disorder, substance abuse and co-occurring mental health recovery programs are offered.

“We need to not let our addiction define us, but have our recovery define us. ” 


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Now my next topic? Well it seems that maybe all the blogging and sharing on my blog here and throughout social media for the very first event of UNITED To Face Addiction rally held in Washington, DC the past weekend of Oct 4th and 5th 2015.
Maybe, just maybe this rally didn’t fall on deaf politicians ears. As after this event there was an interesting post by shared by
The White House recently that I would re-share here for those who have not seen this …Maybe Washington, Congress and the legislation maybe listening to the many voices of people who have lost someone due to any type of addiction. It is time to stop the loss of precious life from addictions!

 The White House

3 facts most people don’t know about prescription drug abuse:

Prescription drug abuse and heroin use have taken a heartbreaking toll on too many Americans and their families. Today, President Obama traveled to West Virginia — the state home to the highest rate of overdose deaths in the nation — to hear directly from people in the community and discuss new actions to fight this epidemic.

Get the facts about prescription drug abuse in this country, and then watch the conversation.

Heading to WV to talk about the epidemic of prescription drug abuse in America and what we can do to help. Get all the facts:

*If you or a loved one need resources about the prescription drug and heroin overdose epidemic, visit *
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So there you go. It seems the our President gets it! So now it is time he ACT. Stop cutting government funding for addiction treatment and mental health services FIRST when they are trying to save a buck here and there in the federal budget.

I hope you found the information provided and shared here today helpful? Your welcome to donate to my “Go Fund Me” recovery book & blog fund. to help me publish my next 2 books.

If you or someone you care about may have a problem with gambling? Grab a copy of Arnie’s and my book and give them as a gift. They can read first hand what can happen if their gambling gets out of hand. So there is all my Gambling and Recovery ramblings and news for today friends.

Until Next Time Recovery Friends and Visitors . . . . ODAAT!
“Believing in a Power Greater than Ourselves”

Catherine Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate

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