Hello Recovery Friends, Supporters, and New Visitors,
I’m very happy and honored to welcome and share with my recovery friends a wonderful couple who have helped many people recover from compulsive addicted gambling, and have done so longer then I have been in my own recovery from this cunning disease almost 8 years now. They raise awareness, inform, and advocate tirelessly. They have changed and saved many lives from this devastating addiction. So I welcome them both to my blog, and Thank The Wexler’s for letting me share a little of what they do for others who suffer problem & addicted gambling.
(Arnie & Sheila Wexler)
The Wexler’s have a great website that has excellent addiction and recovery information about problem gambling and they help educate many agencies, organizations, and help the afflicted to recover from this cunning disease through their Hotline called “Last Bet” 1-888-Last-Bet, and website: http://www.aswexler.com/
Here is a little more of what they do, who they are, and how they help many! …
Arnie and Sheila Wexler have provided extensive training on Compulsive, Problem and Underage Gambling, to more than 40,000 gaming employees (personnel and executives) and have written Responsible Gaming Programs for major gaming companies. In addition, they have worked with Gaming Boards and Regulators, presented educational workshops nationally and internationally and have provided expert witness testimony.
Sheila Wexler is the Executive Director of the Compulsive Gambling Foundation. They also run a national help line (888 LAST BET) and work at Recovery Road, a treatment facility in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida that specializes in the treatment of those suffering with gambling addiction.
Those of us in recovery from this disease know that Stigma around this addiction is huge, and we have a long way to go to shatter it! But Arnie has been a very loud voice in informing the public about this very secret addiction, just as I am. It’s time people know more about it, and know there is NO Shame in talking about it, or for reaching out for help.
I remember when my current book first released, as I began sharing and promoting my book through social media and with many recovery places, I kept hearing about this guy named ‘Arnie Wexler’. Many gambling treatment websites I’d go to for information, research, and support, I’d be asked if I knew or heard about Arnie Wexler? I was told Arnie and his wife know about all things gambling addiction and recovery.
Even my good friend Marilyn Lancelot Author of, ‘Gripped by Gambling’ had asked me when we first met, “have you heard of Arnie Wexler?, the guy who was on 60 Minutes & ABC’S Nightline”?
I told Marilyn I have heard about him by many people in the gambling recovery circles, but never had the pleasure of meeting or corresponding with him or his lovely wife Sheila. That was in 2011. Then a month or so ago, I was called and interviewed by Elaine Meyer of Columbia University Dept. Of Epidemiology.
She was doing research about problem and addicted gambling, and was writing a large article about it from many angles of this topic. Elaine’s article came out September 10th, 2014, and low and behold as I read the article there was Arnie in the article too! It’s titled, Gambling with America’s Health?
Elaine Meyer has worked as a journalist covering education and legal news. She graduated in 2009 with an M.S. from Columbia School of Journalism and is currently the associate director of communications for Columbia’s Department of Epidemiology, where she carries out the department’s mission of translating public health science to the larger public. Follow her @emeyer5
It is one of the best articles about problem & addicted gambling I have read in all my years in recovery from this cunning addiction. So I got brave enough to reach out to Arnie through LinkedIn Professionals website and connect with him, as I wanted him to know how much I liked his part in the article. He accepted my connect request and the rest as they say is history! I then was brave enough to ask if I could share the wonderful work he and his wife Sheila does for others with problem or addicted gambling here on my recovery blog?
Well, he not only said yes, but he has given us a Sneak Peek of his new book that will release very soon!
But here is a wee bit more about Arnie Wexler we may not know about …
Arnie Wexler’s compulsive gambling spiraled out of control . . . now after forty-plus years in recovery he is a nationally known expert on gambling addiction and helps others to “quit the bet.” All Bets Are Off chronicles Wexler’s life as a gambler that began on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, flipping cards, shooting marbles, and playing pinball machines. At age fourteen he found the racetrack, a bookie to take his bets, and started playing the stock market. His preoccupation with gambling accelerated until a fateful day in 1968 when it all came crashing down. Wexler’s gripping narrative leads us through the dungeon of a compulsive gambler’s world—chasing the big win and coming up with empty pockets—and how his addiction drove him and his wife, Sheila, to the edge of life. With help, they managed to escape, and together they have devoted themselves to helping others with the problem they know so well …
His new book titled, All Bets Are Off, was written along with Steve Jacobson. And again, Arnie has given me and my recovery friends a sneak peek, but keep in mind it’s an unedited look at the new book. I have pre-ordered my copy and so should all of you! One of the extraordinary things about Arnie and Sheila is that they give us a look inside how gambling addiction not only affects the addict, but how it affects our loved ones and spouses.
That’s where Sheila comes in.
Together, their story and personal testimony is very important. We need to be able to see how gambling affects all who are around us, and to see what we but our spouse/partner through, and the family as a whole. That is the topic of the part of the book Arnie was kind enough to share with us. So Happy Reading!
All Bets Are Off … By: Arnie Wexler and written with Steve Jacobson
About The Authors:
Steve Jacobson was a sports reporter and columnist for Newsday for 44 years beginning in 1960. He was awarded first prize by the Associated Press of New York and Top Five Sports Columnists numerous times by the Associated Press Sports Editors, and has been twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, among other accolades. In 2004, he created, conducted interviews for, and helped script the documentary Jackie’s Disciples for ESPN …
Arnie Wexler is a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor and runs a national hotline for compulsive gamblers. He was the executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey and the senior vice president of National Council on Problem Gambling. He has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including Nightline, the Today Show, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, 48 Hours, and Crossfire, among others.
“ALL BETS ARE OFF”:
SHEILA ~ A Wife’s Nightmare:
I kept thinking it would get better. Married life got worse. The refrigerator was empty and the furniture was threadbare and the scruffy apartment was more dismal.
I was trying to get pregnant, as infrequently as we made love. (if Arnie won that day he was so high, he did not need sex, if he lost he could care less sometimes if we had sex and he was hearing a ball game under the pillow) I thought having a child would pull us together. The doctor told me that the stress I was living with made getting pregnant more difficult. I certainly was living with stress. Then I did become pregnant and those were happy times for me, even if it was one-sided joy. I wrapped myself up in myself. I ignored what was going on in our lives together.
I was determined to have a baby. Everything was going to be wonderful. For a while being pregnant was my delight. I was very forgiving and less critical of Arnie in my own mind. He’d come home with some kind of present for me and was extra attentive even for a day or a weekend and that was enough for me to back away from my hostility. I was fooling myself. One time when my pregnancy was close to term, I phoned him at work and asked him what I should do if I went into labor. Before that, when I had a doctor’s appointment, he’d send me with his brother. Now, he told me to call my father to take me to the hospital, he was busy. Some if this seems like more of the same, but each of his lies compounded my depression.
After Stacy was born, as difficult as the delivery was, things began falling apart more. From the outside people said our life together looked fine. In nice weather Arnie would take her to ‘Flushing Meadow Park’ every Saturday and Sunday morning about 11 o’clock. Yes, his bookmaker opened for business at 11:30. We didn’t have cellphones back then and after he pushed Stacy on the swing for a few minutes, he would find a phone booth where he could watch her feed bread to the ducks on the pond and he would be dealing with his bookmaker. Neighbors would say what a great husband he was.
The truth was, he never saw her take her first steps or hear her say her first words. And if he did, they didn’t register for him. He was there but his head wasn’t. If he was watching TV of the ballgame he had bet and she stepped in front of the screen and some guy made an error, it became her fault he lost the bet. When we were summering in the mountains, he was happy when he took her to the track in Monticello on a Saturday afternoon. He’d bet the horses she liked—the gray one or No.4. One time she picked a $60 winner and he thought she was his good luck charm.Sometime after Stacy was born, Arnie was up against the financial pressures and obviously depressed. He had used up his customary sources of money. He went to his boss and borrowed $3,000 against his salary of $125 a week, and $10 a week was to come out of his salary. He was trying to hide this from me. He was being paid by check with itemized deductions, which would have exposed what he had done to me. So he would cash the check before he got home and mark his own deductions on a bank envelope. I asked how come he was now being paid cash in an envelope for the first time.
He told me that was because now the Brinks truck was coming to the plant and everybody would line up to be paid. A half-intelligent person would have doubted that. Was it logical for maybe 2,000 people to lineup to be paid in cash from a Brinks truck? Somewhere inside me there still was a person who had some instincts that the story couldn’t be true. I decided to catch him.
I got hold of a standard W-2 tax form and broke down the figures of taxes and Social Security. And it came out that Arnie was shorting me $25 a week on his take-home. He said the boss was taking that out of his checks while Arnie was trying to pay off his debts to bookmakers and loan sharks. I was trying to catch him at that lie so I phoned him on a Friday afternoon and told him I knew what he was doing to me. He said so innocently, “I’ve been waiting for you to ask me.”
This was a joke I couldn’t believe. He said we live in New York and he works in New Jersey and it had to do with discrepancies in the state taxes. He said, “I’ll explain when I get home.” Friday nights he usually came home because he and my father were going to the track together. He gave me a paper on which he had written a man’s name and phone number. He said that was the name of a man in the IRS office in Jamaica, I should get in touch with him and he’d explain the whole thing to me.
He knew, of course, I would never make that phone call. I knew he was lying. A short time later I got a letter from a bank addressed to him. He had asked for a loan application to be sent to the office and instead the bank sent it to the house. The bank said it couldn’t grant the loan because we had too much outstanding credit. I thought our debts were paid off at that time, so I knew there was a lie there.
Arnie said the loan wasn’t for him, it was for his friend Michael, who gambled with him. Arnie brought Michael to the house to prove that the loan was for him. I said, “No offense, Michael, but please leave.” It was the first time in all those years that I really asserted myself. When Michael left I turned to Arnie and said, don’t bother giving me some cockamamie explanation, I know you’re lying to me.
So I had caught him, but what were we going to do about that? The dollar-burden was dragging me down. I was sliding down emotionally. My doctor had me taking Valium. I wouldn’t tell him I knew Arnie had a gambling problem. I hadn’t recognized how bad that problem was, but I knew something was wrong. I was afraid there might be another woman, but I knew then he was a liar. So I stopped asking questions. I stopped fighting back and at home we were like ships passing in the night.
I thought—like a lot of lonely wives—another child would give me more satisfaction and would bring Arnie closer. Arnie gave me half-hearted acceptance. We were trying and that didn’t work out. Then I had the brilliant idea that we should adopt, and his response was that adoption cost money, didn’t it? At that time Arnie was on what he called a win streak and had hidden a quantity of money under the linoleum between the closet and the living room. I came across it when I stepped on the bulge. That wasn’t to pay the cost of adopting, Arnie insisted, that was gambling money and you don’t use gambling money for anything else.(Arnie did not say this out loud to me…he would never admit that the money was for gambling…he made up some kind of story about it)
After three months or so of haggling about adoption, he relented. He thought I would be so busy with two kids that I would leave him alone. His grandmother lent us $3,000 and we went to Florida to pick up the baby. The day we were bringing little Howie home on the plane was the seventh game of the 1967 World Series. I was busy looking after this beautiful new baby and Arnie had no interest in him; he had a big bet on the game.
The pilot would announce the score every fifteen minutes or so and Arnie was squirming in his seat, wishing or praying that the plane would land so that he could watch or at least hear the end of the game. That was what was important to him. Summers living in a small shabby apartment in Queens in steamy New York summers are uncomfortable and I felt we needed an escape like the ones his (my) mother rented in the Catskills. Neither of us wanted to share with her, and with his graft money, Arnie had money but he felt he still needed $400. He had this idea for me at a time I was uncomfortable talking to anybody. He told me he was going to buy dresses from the factory—actually he was going to steal them and bring them home under his shirt. I was supposed to sell them to people I knew and we would share the profits. I couldn’t do that.(I did do the dress sales…dying inside but wanting the money to go away in the summer) …
That was when I started thinking about suicide. I became so paralyzed that I couldn’t leave the house. I couldn’t face the world. I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone. When the weather wasn’t too bad, I’d put the babies outside on the little patio, watch them through the window and wallow in self-pity. I was totally dependent on him. I wasn’t working, of course, and I would never admit to my parents that our marriage wasn’t working and I needed to move back with them. I was part of what my generation had taught me. No matter what, I was always afraid he was leaving. He would play on my fears. We’d have an argument and he’d snap that he was leaving. He’d go to the closet, push some clothes around noisily and I’d plead, “Don’t leave! Don’t leave!” And he was off to Roosevelt or Yonkers Raceway, leaving me in my hysteria.
Every Saturday he went to work and told me the switchboard closed at noon and I wouldn’t be able to reach him. He’d go to the track, come hone at 4 or 5 o’clock and put on the results. At night he’d tell me there were meetings he had to go to, and go to the track or to card games.
By that time I absolutely hated him. I used to sit by the window and plan what it was going to be like after he died. We’d sit in mourning and everybody was going to come my house and feel sorry for me. That’s how I thought I’d get out of it. I used to wish for him to get killed in a car accident. Not long after that, it turned into I wish I would die, but then I was worrying who would take care of my children?The idea of Arnie going for treatment( 12 step recovery program) was nowhere in my mind. I didn’t even think there was treatment for compulsive gambling. That was another life ago and we can laugh at a lot of things that made me cry. We’ve been through a treatment that worked for him and so it worked for me.(I had my own program of recovery, also) We’ve rediscovered what we thought we had together in the first place.
Arnie is a nice ( wonderful guy…good to his family and friends ) guy who tries to help people.
This is not a person who would be mean or cruel or uncaring about his wife or children. That’s impossible to see in him. It took me some years to be that forgiving but I came to understand that in his right mind, that wasn’t him. He could be that only under the influence of this crazy thing.
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A Little More of Arnie’s Story:
“I am a recovering Compulsive Gambler who placed my last bet April 10,1968″…As a young kid, growing up, I always felt that everyone was better than me. The only time I felt okay about myself was after I had a win, whether it was marbles or baseball cards or pennies. Then at 14 I went to the racetrack for the first time (that was Memorial Day, 1951 Roosevelt Raceway). At that time in my life I was making $.50 an hour after school, working about 15-20 hours a week. That night at Roosevelt Raceway I had my first big win and walked out of the track with $54. Looking back today, I think it was that night that changed my life. Even though it was only $54, it was about 5 weeks salary to me at that time. That night gave me the belief that I could be a winner from gambling and eventually become a millionaire. I can still recall that high feeling walking out of the racetrack that night.
By 17, I was already stealing to support my gambling. It started with stealing comic books to play cards with from the local candy store. Before long it was stealing money from my family to pay for gambling. By then I was taking the bus to the racetrack, a few nights a week on a regular basis. In those days they closed the track in the winter months, in New York so on weekends, I would take the bus or the train to Maryland to gamble. I was betting sporting events and horses with the bookmaker on a daily basis. In those days each sport had its own season. I remember calling the bookmaker one day and the only thing that was available to gamble on was hockey. I had never seen a hockey game, but bet on it anyway. It wasn’t until months later when I did see my first hockey game, that I realized that hockey was played on ice.
Somewhere between age 17 and 20 I went to the racetrack one night and won $6000. Wow! Another big win. It was the equivalent of 2 years salary. This reinforced my belief that I could be a winner at gambling … For the rest of his story, please visit their website http://www.aswexler.com/
If you need help with a gambling problem, call 1-888-LAST-BET, so if you or someone you care for has a gambling problem, please call or visit The Wexler’s as you’d be in good hands and their website is very informative. Here is how & who they help at A.S. Wexler Associates.
Services We Offer:
We offer consultation, interventions, group, individual, and family counseling, couple’s workshops, referrals, evaluations, and expert testimony. In addition, we provide educational seminars, workshops, and training.
Educational Videos Available,
Who Can Utilize Our Services?
- Addiction Treatment Centers
- Mental Health Professionals
- Legal and Judicial Professionals
- State Human Services Agencies
- Colleges and Universities
- Gaming Industry Personnel
- Law Enforcement Agencies
- Individuals and their Families
- State and Federal Governments
“It is our goal to raise the awareness of those who are in a position to help compulsive gamblers and their families” …
*Again, I’d like to Thank Arnie & Sheila Wexler for the joy of having them as guests on my gambling recovery blog. I hope all who come by for a visit may learn a little more about how Problem & Addicted Gambling affects many people in our own family & communities. No, I don’t think gambling should be taken away or banned, but the current expansion of gambling needs to be slowed way down. It surely makes it much more difficult for those of us in recovery from this insidious addiction. The public needs to be informed, educated, and Arnie & Sheila work tirelessly with many individuals, organizations and agencies to get them more involved. The current expansion of Casinos and State Lotteries is already resulting in many more people becoming problem or addicted gamblers. And parents, it’s now touching your High School & College age young adults too*!
It’s time to really “Talk About It” … I wish Arnie & Steve much success with their new book, and again, you can pre-order right now for, “All Bets Are Off” on Amazon. You can also connect with Arnie & Sheila Wexler on these social media sites too!
Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/aswexler
LinkedIn ~ http://www.linkedin.com/pub/arnie-wexler/pub/b/805/593
Another Great Article about Arnie Wexler on this website link,
And make sure you visit their helpful website here:
Thanks All for Visiting ~ God Bless
Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
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