Hello Recovery Friends, Supporters, and New Visitors,
I have several updates and opportunities for you! One is about an exceptional video to watch of a conference held last week about STATE LOTTERIES. It is very informative to watch. The other news is TWO opportunities to share your story and experiences with ONLINE SPORTS BETTING.
Then, the fine folks of the MA Council on Problem Gambling are looking for people willing to share their stories of gambling addiction or problem gambling and recovery exclusively for their website. See all the details below. I always enjoy keeping everyone informed and educated, including the public!
~Advocate Catherine Lyon
“Investigative journalist seeking to interview citizens who’ve suffered harm from online sports gambling“
Stop Predatory Gambling was contacted by a national investigative journalist who is seeking to interview citizens who have been harmed in some way by online sports gambling and the gambling operators behind it. The person could be anyone who developed an online sports gambling problem, a loved one or friend of an addicted online sports gambler, an employer, etc. The person can do the interview anonymously if professional or family considerations are a significant factor.
People revealing the truth about predatory gambling with these kinds of stories can make a real difference in bringing about change. Please ask your family, friends, co-workers, and website visitors if they know someone who has been harmed and is open to discussing what happened.
If they are a member of Gamblers Anonymous or Gam-Anon, any interview will not reference GA in keeping with the guidelines of those organizations.
Please call or email me as soon as possible if you know someone, and I’ll pass it on to the journalist to get them connected.
Best, Les Bernal Stop Predatory Gambling
Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation 100 Maryland Avenue NE, Room 310 | Washington, District of Columbia 20002 (202) 567-6996 | firstname.lastname@example.org
A Message and OpportunityFrom MA Office of The National Council on Problem Gambling:
Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health
ICYMI: “Our Tell Your Story series” is accepting submissions. No writing is required, just a brief, confidential interview on your real-life experience with gambling.
And Lastly, A Message From Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling~ STATE LOTTERIES
Below is the video to watch last week’s important national event, “How States’ Experiment with Lotteries Has Failed and Why It Affects You,” which featured prominent national lottery expert Dr. Jonathan Cohen, author of the important new book“For a Dollar and a Dream: State Lotteries in Modern America,”and Sean Mussenden, data editor for the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland who was a key figure behind the publication of the 2022 groundbreaking national series on state lotteries, “Mega Billions: The Great Lottery Wealth Transfer.”Brief background about each speaker is below.
If you didn’t get to attend, I urge you to watch the forum. Cohen and Mussenden were engaging, highly knowledgeable, and persuasive. After you watch it, I strongly urge you to share the video with your email list and your social media networks, inviting people to learn for themselves how severe and urgent the problem of state lotteries has become and how it affects all of us, including those who rarely, if ever, gamble on the lottery.
I also strongly encourage you to share the video with every local, state, and federal official in your region, along with members of the local and state media.
The video is NOW posted to our Stop Predatory Gambling YouTube channel, and it can be watched here. You can also click on the image below.
This webinar is one of a series of events that we’re hosting, and we’d be grateful if you would please take one minute to fill out this brief survey about the event to give us your feedback.
About the Speakers:
Dr. Jonathan D. Cohen is a program officer at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He is the co-editor of All In: The Spread of Gambling in Twentieth-Century United States and Long Walk Home: Reflections on Bruce Springsteen. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Virginia. His new book “For a Dollar and a Dream: State Lotteries in Modern America” was published by Oxford University Press and can be purchased here.(Use coupon code AAFLYG6 to receive a 30% discount.)
Sean Mussenden is the data editor for the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, an investigative reporting unit at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism that partners early-career journalists and veteran journalists at news organizations like the Associated Press, PBS NewsHour,and National Public Radio to produce deeply reported investigative stories.
Every day, millions of individuals across the globe are recovering from addicted gambling and mental and substance abuse disorders.
Among those conditions is problem gambling, medically defined by the DSM-5 as Disordered Gambling. Problem gambling affects approximately 2 million people nationwide, with another 4-6 million at risk. During this month of understanding recovery and the disorders and addictions individuals struggle to overcome, we want to shine a light on those affected by problem gambling.
It’s a disorder that isn’t easily noticed and isn’t often talked about. We refer to it as the hidden addiction because it can be hard to recognize the signs until the disorder has begun to seriously affect the individual’s health or cause significant financial problems.
WHAT WAS RECOVERY MONTH?
National Recovery Month is celebrated by many in the addiction and recovery community throughout September, serving as a way to recognize those living with mental and substance abuse disorders and their loved ones fighting the battle alongside and behind them. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides resources, updates, and ways to get involved on their site.
Many organizations are using this month to share recovery stories, organize events and spark a dialogue about mental and substance abuse disorders. While these conversations should be happening year-round, taking a month to recognize the importance of recovery is an important place to start.
UNDERSTANDING GAMBLING DISORDER & RECOVERY
Problem gambling can happen to anyone. It’s a disorder that knows no limits of age, gender, or ethnicity. It doesn’t care about your background or the numbers on your paycheck. There are many ways to gamble, from initially low-stakes to high, and they can all end up costing the individual more than they bargained for.
It’s essential to recognize that disordered gambling tends to co-occur with other addictions, such as alcohol or drug dependence. According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), 73.2 percent of people with a gambling disorder also had an alcohol use disorder. Likewise, 31.8 percent had a drug use disorder. While co-occurring disorders aren’t always a part of gambling disorders, it’s also important to be aware of the correlation.
Experiencing multiple disorders calls for different approaches to treatment and recovery. To get the most effective treatment, it’s vital for individuals to acknowledge their gambling disorder and anything else they have recognized is affecting them.
Why is recovery so important? Problem gambling has the highest rate of suicide of all addictions.
The journey to recovery requires a bit of planning and commitment. You can cross the finish line, but you must prepare yourself for the obstacles ahead.
What are you going to do with the time you used to spend gambling?
How are you going to avoid old triggers?
Will you become dependent on another unhealthy activity or substance?
These are all real, severe questions that many problem gamblers face at the beginning of their recovery. They may be tough to answer, but thinking about them now will help you continue a successful and lasting recovery. You will need to consider your lifestyle, behaviors, and habits when embarking on your journey to be prepared for the challenges you may face. Find more tips on facing recovery in our ebook on staying safe after problem gambling.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEEK HELP!
Remember, you don’t have to face this alone. You can find support in the stories of others who are experiencing similar problems from gambling, reach out to trusted friends and family members, or talk to a professional who can help you map your recovery.
If you need support or advice for dealing with problem gambling, the NYS HOPEline is available to help! You can reach them free of charge, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, by calling 1-877-8-HOPENY.
For professional support and treatment for problem gambling in New York State, our Gambling Support Directory provides a network of organizations providing services for disordered gambling.
The path to recovery can have its ups and downs, but don’t lose sight of the finish line. You can get through this, and people want to help you recover and care!
I would encourage you to visit my friends, “Know The Odds,” on their website. They have helpful resources for locals living in NYC and national resources.
Problem Gambling Resource Centers
Funded by the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, the New York State Problem Gambling Resource Centers (PGRCs) are the New York Council on Problem Gambling programs. The goal of the PGRCs is to address problem gambling across New York State by:
increasing public awareness about problem gambling;
connecting those adversely affected by gambling with services that can help them.
I enjoy sharing some of my supportive friends and the resources they offer to help those who might be problem gamblers or may have a full-blown addiction to it.
My fine friends at GamTalk – https://www.gamtalk.org/ have many resources anyone can tap into to get help from gambling. Dr. Richard Wood is the founder and Ken L. is an administrator of this awesome website as they have given many a safe place and platform to share and give support to those looking to stop suffering in silence from this cunning and insidious disease.
I would encourage anyone who has a gambling problem to go join free and be with other like-minded people so you know you are NOT ALONE. I also try to share my thoughts on their community wall with empathy and inspiration to those who may be having a tough time trying to quit and how vital having an open willingness for CHANGE.
In order to change you much follow it up with ACTION. Willing to make changes within your actions is what will help you become BET FREE. Willing to change your addicted thinking, choices, bad habits, and behaviors that come with problem gambling.
It needs and takes action to work and you’ll begin a path of recovery that will be successful and gain a much better life. I’d like to share some anonymous voices so others can see just how difficult it is to change and stop gambling addictively.
Durr. posted: “We need to be able to survive a bad day. No matter how hard we try to live right, bad days will happen. It is wise to pray to be tough, fight through it, and believe that tomorrow will be better. When bad days happen get into your activities list and get active. Plan and prepare for war against this addiction. Have a journal and fill it with tips and articles about how to quit. Every day, add a bit more. Every day, study the key tips for you. Every day, do what you need to do to renew your mind and habits. It works.”
Pete E. posted: “New here and this day shall be known as day 1 for me…I have come to grips that I need help to stop gambling.”
Cindy R. posted: “My first post …I suppose my entry here will be quite usual. Anxiety way up, making deals with payments, and have noticed that when I’m chasing losses now for the last two months I’ve been noticeably hyper-frustrated when a scratch ticket doesn’t win.
Since I really need the win. Noticing this has prompted me to begin looking to stop or slow down. My mind is as tense as if I’ve Jenn up all night for New Year even with 5 hrs of sleep. Getting help locally is awkward since I’m a neighborhood professional. Thanks for letting me vent here…looking for a therapist whom I can trust locally here in Canada.“
Sally K. posted: “I’ve been gambling for over 12 years and it’s ruined my life. I have no hope for the future. It’s like I can’t feel anything unless I’m sitting in front of a slot machine. I’m scared to go to Gamblers Anonymous as I’m not a faith-based person. I want to find a support group; to be able to talk to and listen to other people like me. Does anyone have any recommendations on where to start?”
Kleaner31 posted: “I recently found out my 29-year-old son has a gambling problem. I’m looking for how I can help him the best.” Ken L. answered: “Hi Kleaner, The best way to help him is to suggest that he visit this site, find some counseling, and start attending GA meetings. And maybe suggest he turn his finances over to you until is finds solid recovery. I have included a link to Gam-Anon which is a Program for family and friends of the gambler. Wish you both well. https://www.gam-anon.org/meeting-directory
Dee M. posted: “Well, now, because of my undisciplined actions i.e. gambling every day, my car is being repossessed on July 8th unless I come up with the money, which I gambled away….I’m an idiot. I seriously have reached out to many agencies, but cannot find help with this. Unfortunately, I NEED my car for work, but I’m pretty much screwed.”Steve answered: “Sometimes churches have funds to help ask them for counseling and for them to take you and the payment to the bank with you.” (I ) Cat L. answered,“It is what happens when you continue to gamble and then chase your losses… You need to break the “cycle” and start also taking your financial inventory. Give your money and all cards, debit, and credit cards to your spouse or a trustworthy person to handle your money.There are many treatment options if you are ready for change.”
Jcp82 posted: “I’m so very happy I stumbled on this forum today. Day #2 of working to make a positive change in my life. It is amazing how (1) simple activity can take over a life. It hurts my insides that I cannot gamble today. But I have no choice but to push through. It will get easier I know, but wow. So happy I am here to read these stories. I am not alone in this and that is a good thing. Have a great day everyone!”
C Marie posted: “Day #3 Thanks everyone for your help. The suggested podcasts are really helping me. Little victories. Today will be a good day. If not, we will make it one. Take care out there guys!”
Cat Lyon – (Me) posted ( I wanted to share my recent amazing NEWS and Accomplishment) “Hello, Group and friends, Happy Belated Canada Day to those who live in Canada! I’m in the USA, and we are celebrating Independence Day tomorrow, but as I write this, I hear fireworks outside. I guess some wanted to start it EARLY… Awe, just the little things. I say this because I sure know I had a lot of crappy 4th of Julys when I was still deeply in my gambling addiction.
This brings me to Thanking Ken for the “Thoughts of the Day” today and tomorrow, depending on where you live. (what country) …As Ken shared, “Change is a part of the flow of life. Sometimes we’re frustrated because change seems slow in coming. Sometimes, too, we’re resistant to a change that seems to have been thrust upon us.”
For those who may be having a rough time, struggling to maintain recovery from this awful and insane addiction, CHANGE is a vital part of our humble beginnings within our recovery path and the willingness to make it.
To have a much better life for you, your spouses, your family, etc. CHANGE doesn’t have to be feared or scary. Wouldn’t it be great to have a life without this addiction dictating it? Or it sucking the life out of you. It is possible. I have been doing it BET FREE for over 15 years. I know it is possible. Was it a rocky road at first? Heck yes. But I truly was sick of being sick and tired.
It took me two failed (thank GOD) suicide attempts and two times through a crisis center and gambling recovery treatment program. No kidding. But? I NEVER GAVE UP. WHY? Because I knew I was living one bet away from death. True. I knew if stayed out there gambling I’m sure another suicide attempt would be looming and as they say, “third times a charm,” and I know I would not be here today if I kept gambling addictively. It is true that every 1 in 5 gamblers WILL try suicide. It’s a fact. And even though at that point I lost just about everything, almost my marriage, and my life, I was one HOT MESS!
Today I live a much better life than the one had before I became a gambling addict. I am very proud that I just completed and graduated from my Freedom Debit Relief program! I finally have paid off all the old debts and collections I had and it was a lot of $$$$$$… I feel so proud of myself for not only getting my financial inventory in order but being accountable for paying all those old debts off.
It IS an amazing feeling! So, never give up trying to stop if you have a gambling problem or it is a full-blown addiction. Your life is worth more than that. And you deserve to be happy and have peace in your life.
Our past doesn’t have to define us so don’t let it dictate YOUR future!
I think this gives some examples of how tough it can be to maintain recovery or just reach out for help and have a start somewhere and somehow. When you visit GamTalk’s website, I would also encourage you to read the “The Stories of Hope.”
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 9 years ago. Thanks for flying with us “Bet Free Recovery Now!”
Keep up the good blogging.
NEWS FROM THE FOUNDER OF “STOP PREDATORY GAMBLING” ~ Catherine, 6 things to know about the fight from Stop Predatory Gambling. . .
Director’s Note: We’re working on three key priorities in 2022. Priority #1 is to move beyond the coalition model that focused on our own individual states and regions and build a vibrant national organization with a national focus in its place.
A national focus requires that we dramatically grow our organizational capacity and build a team committed to that national focus. For the first time in our history, we filled three critical roles on our team.
The first major addition was hiring part-time Director of Development, Kate Rozzi, to help us build a growing, financially-sustainable organization in the long term. Our second key addition was the addition of part-time Director of Education, Harry Levant, whose primary focus is to create high-quality content about the seriousness and urgency of our nation’s problem with commercialized gambling, which we can then widely distribute using both digital and traditional communication mediums. The third critical hire was our part-time Digital Communications Director, Eric Stamps, who will improve the way we are educating people using 21st-century technology now used to gather and absorb information.
These three new team members join Debbie Blank, our Financial Manager for the past twelve years, who has wisely and carefully managed our small budget. Her work has earned us the annual GuideStar Exchange Seal awarded to organizations that have demonstrated nonprofit transparency and accountability.
Priority #2 is to change how we measure our impact. Instead of looking at it from a lens of preventing predatory gambling expansion like we’ve done historically, we’re focused on “gaining traction” as an organization over the next 12 months. Traction is a sign that something is working. Simply put, “traction” equals growth. The way we are measuring our traction is by focusing on how many people we are reaching across the United States. Everything we’ve done over the past five months, and everything we do going forward through the end of 2022, will be guided by this mindset.
Priority #3 is to spotlight how gambling advertising is out-of-control, and at the same time, invite Americans to join us who want to protect people from these predatory business practices. This is why we’re leading a national campaign targeting commercialized gambling advertising and marketing, with a special focus on how it is affecting kids. As part of the campaign, we’re creating and distributing high-quality content such as webinars, short videos, and op-eds, to educate the public about how gambling advertising is out-of-control and millions of kids are being hurt as a result.
Our campaign also provides an opportunity for us to attract concerned citizens to engage with our organization bysigning an online petitionon our website calling for Congress to implement restrictions on commercialized gambling advertising to protect the public from further harm. It’s only because of the selfless financial generosity of our members that we are able to fund our work.
Thanks for making our mission one of your priorities in your life. Sincerely, Les Bernal, National Director
Next Up Is A Man On A Mission: Alex’s Story
My name is Alex Iler and I am a new Board Member of Stop Predatory Gambling. I would like to share the story of why I have become involved with this organization. I was a successful practicing criminal defense attorney in New Jersey for more than a decade when I first became an addicted gambler. My path toward destruction began with a big win at the blackjack table at Harrah’s Casino in Atlantic City.
Very quickly the Harrah’s staff went out of their way to lure me back with extremely generous comps and perks, the likes of which would make your head spin. I’ll save those details for a future story! As my gambling increased so did the depths of the oftentimes illegal perks they were using to get me to stay and return, including feeding back to me 30% of my losses on a daily basis.
As my gambling addiction grew, my personal life spun out of control and I eventually engaged in a series of thefts from my attorney trust account to try to chase and recover my losses. I was eventually arrested. I lost my law license, was divorced and sent to State Prison where I served approximately 18 months. All this while I had a six-year-old and two-year-old at home.
I am happy to say that despite this devastation I have nearly 10 years of recovery under my belt and have rebuilt or repaired my family relationships and most of my friendships. It is a difficult and dark disease to conquer. I don’t think the general public is aware of how insidious this disease is. My hopes are that through my work with Stop Predatory Gambling I can get this message out and help save at least one life before it’s too late. I look forward to serving.
-Alex Iler, Rhode Island
Notes From The Front Lines Thanks to the support of our donors, members, and successful collaborations across the country, we have accomplished much in our efforts to continue to reveal the truth about predatory gambling so far in 2022: We generated national headlines from our webinar we held with prominent experts to reveal the truth about commercialized gambling advertising.
We joined with a coalition of leading national organizations working on behalf of America’s youth and their families to send a letter to Congress calling for policy safeguards to protect children and teens online. One of our members launched a Stop Predatory Gambling Chicago chapter to oppose a casino project in that city.
We traveled to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville to educate thousands about the damage that commercialized gambling is having on families and communities across this country. We presented testimony on online gambling and commercialized sports gambling before the Minnesota legislature four times. Traveled to Philadelphia to do an interview with NBC National News about online gambling and sports gambling. Traveled to Chicago, Illinois to film an interview for a national documentary series on electronic gambling machines.
Traveled to Kentucky to speak before public officials at all levels of government about the impacts that predatory gambling is inflicting upon the citizens of the state. Met with leaders in Tennessee to help build a standing coalition in the state against predatory gambling.
“We are looking forward to working with more of our committed advocates to offer support and guidance as you fight to protect our communities. Through this work as well as working with the media, we will continue to reveal the truth behind commercialized gambling operators.”
New To Our Team Harry Levant is a public health advocate from Philadelphia who serves as Director of Education. A gambling addict in recovery who made his last bet on April 27, 2014, Levant is determined to fight for a public health response to the dangerous expansion of commercialized gambling in America.
He is specifically concerned about the risk presented by the unprecedented partnerships between gambling companies, professional and collegiate sports, media titans, and state government. Eric Stamps joins the team as Digital Communications Director with many years of experience in digital advocacy. He has degrees in Media Design from the Academy of Art University and Full Sail University.
Eric has worked on numerous political campaigns over the past 6 years and has been a former candidate for Virginia’s House of Delegates. He has been actively involved in efforts in Virginia to stop casinos and the expansion of gambling across the state.
Kate Rozzi joins the team bringing over 20 years of communications, development, and advocacy experience with her as the Director of Development. She most recently served as the Vice President of Development at the Merrimack Valley YMCA. Prior to that role, she served as the Director of Development and Communication at the YMCA. She previously worked as a District Director at the Massachusetts House of Representatives and in numerous communications and marketing roles in the private sector.
WHY CONGRESS MUST ACT TO RESTRICT GAMBLING ADVERTISING
Throughout the country, families gather to watch their favorite teams battle it out for wins and championships. Instead of being bombarded with three-pointers, grand slams, and touchdowns, fans are bombarded with flashy ads promising easy access to free bets. Access is immediate and as simple as scanning the QR code flashing across the screen. The ads focus on the free bets but not on the fine print that says your free money is a credit given to you after you spend thousands and thousands of dollars.
By choosing to support Stop Predatory Gambling today, you’re taking an active role in efforts to protect your community and its children from the poverty, addiction, and human suffering caused by the greed of big gambling operators.
Please visit www.stoppredatorygambling.org to make a donation and learn about how you can get involved. You can join with our members who are revealing the truth behind gambling operators and take action to prevent more victims.
Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to educate, inform and take action! DONATE NOW
If you’ve ever been to Atlantic City, you know it’s an exciting place. High-rise hotels, famous nightclubs, and glitzy casinos line the boardwalk. As a young guy, Atlantic City had all the appeal of a fun spot to spend an evening and unwind.
At the casinos, these thrills were more enticing than I realized. That evening, I found myself glued to the gaming tables. I couldn’t get up and walk back to my room. I ended up gambling all night long.
When I visited Atlantic City, I’d been sober for about a year. Growing up, I had problems with drinking and drugs, but fortunately, the effects of these addictions hit me early and hard. I got into recovery programs and by all accounts, was doing well.
That night triggered another addiction that I’d fight for years: problem gambling.
Deep down, I knew that as a recovering alcoholic and drug user, finding and chasing other highs wasn’t a good idea. I swore to my girlfriend that I’d never gamble again.
Except I did. I started to chase, even sprint after the high of gambling. I started buying scratch tickets and visiting more casinos. And unlike my drinking or drug use, I didn’t seek recovery.
Several years later, I fell on tough times. That’s when my gambling got out of control. I didn’t have any close family or friends I could turn to, and instead, I turned to slot machines. I started going to casinos to play high-limit slot machines. Gambling became an escape and winning felt ecstatic. And like my night in Atlantic City, I found it harder and harder to walk away from the machines and the tables.
My life began to revolve around weekends at the casino. I drifted away from participating in 12-step recovery programs. I started spending money like it didn’t matter and racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt. When I maxed out my credit cards, I sold personal possessions, trying to pay off the surging debts from each weekend’s worth of gambling. My relationships took a toll, too. I pushed many people away.
No wake-up call seemed to shake my habit. One day, I ended up hitting the slots and winning a huge jackpot but left the casino with only a few thousand in my pocket. Even refinancing my home to pay off my debts didn’t deter my gambling. The addiction had me by the throat, and I was powerless, unable to look past the upcoming weekend and my next bets.
The real jolt to the system was when I started thinking of doing something illegal to continue gambling. I realized I was helpless and hopeless. I was contemplating suicide.
Just 20 minutes later, one of my sisters called me. A friend of mine from one of the 12-step programs was worried about my wellbeing. He had called my family.
That was May 2008. I was in rough shape mentally and emotionally, but I got help. Through the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health, I found a counselor. I’ve been fortunate to find some really important people in my life and got back on track with the 12-step programs for my addictions.
Since then, gambling has been a monkey on my shoulder. I’ve stayed as vigilant around gambling as I need to be around drinking or drugs. From the high highs to the low lows, I didn’t want to look at my gambling honestly until I reached a point of sheer desperation. When I got honest with myself, it became a weight lifted off my shoulders. My advice? Help yourself before you bottom out!
********* ********* ********** **********
If you or a loved one needs help and you live in the MA., Call Council’s Live-Chat or call the GamLine at 1-800-GAM-1234, 24/7. For everyone in the United States, visit The National Council on Problem Gamblinglook up your State Here: https://www.ncpgambling.org/help-treatment/help-by-state/.
Self-Exclusion or self-banning yourself from gambling and casinos can be a tricky thing to do. There has been much controversy over it. So does it really work for the gambler to ban themselves from the temptation to try and stop one from gambling? Well, I can only speak for myself that it didn’t work. But I was far too deep into full-blown addicted gambling.
If we have a positive mindset and attitude about self-exclusion and try it when we’re beginning to feel like gambling is becoming a problem and interfering in our daily lives? Then for those who are aware and looking to curb or nix this habit before it does become a full-blown addiction, it just may work for them.
I began to think more about this after I read this article I’m going to share with you by the fine folks of The Massachusetts Council On Gaming & Health. It made me see a different side to self-exclusion. I hope you can learn a little more after you give it a read. ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon
For some casino patrons, Voluntary Self-Exclusions are the real home run.
For some casino patrons, ‘Voluntary Self-Exclusions’ is a real home run...
Knowing our limits is part of maintaining a safe, healthy lifestyle. It’s what naturally encourages our bodies and minds to crave breaks. Whether powering off our laptop after a few hours of work or pausing to stretch when we get a muscle cramp exercising, breaks help us reassess and recharge. Even our favorites on the Sox and Celtics take timeouts to breathe and strategize their next play.
As Opening Day kicks off this week, these statistics should serve as a vital reminder to policymakers. The passage of sports betting legislation without robust consumer protections such as Voluntary Self-Exclusion (VSE) programs would prove to be a massive oversight and undermine our Commonwealth’s pro-public health reputation.
Gambling can be tough to see or sniff out, literally. Unlike some alcohol or drug use addictions, problem gambling or at-risk gambling can be easily concealed. However, keep a lookout for signs and symptoms. Perhaps you or someone you care about is placing higher bets to try to reach the same adrenaline rushes.
Others find themselves driving to the casino or instinctively pulling up a gambling app whenever they are down or stressed. Individuals are increasingly chasing sports betting thrills on flashy apps and websites. So be mindful of more-than-usual screen time. The sheer accessibility of sports betting poses concerns to public health — and a potentially greater need for self-exclusion programs.
Like anything in excess, gambling can wreak havoc on relationships, workplaces, finances, and your wellbeing. As a former competitive hockey player turned gaming services professional, I have seen countless sports bettors jeopardize their careers and families. And in working as a table games dealer for many years, I’ve seen what happens when gambling no longer feels like a game.
It isn’t only about the damage to your wallet. Even when they pay off their debts, individuals still have a gambling disorder. A break — sometimes for a year, sometimes for good — might be the best thing to do.
In my current role as a Senior GameSense Advisor, I have a unique opportunity to help patrons create limits around their gambling. Our team staffs info centers at the state casinos, educating patrons on responsible gambling. Conversations can range from understanding the odds in a game of craps to helping folks take a break and enroll in a Voluntary Self-Exclusion program.
By enrolling in VSE, participants voluntarily exclude themselves from the gaming floors of all Massachusetts casinos. Participants can choose how long they would like to exclude. And just like if Xander Bogaerts tried to belt a line drive between innings, any money wagered, lost, or won during VSE enrollment is forfeited and does not count. Like Bogaerts, you also get a coach. Trained staff, including GameSense Advisors like myself, conduct regular check-ins throughout the term and connect you to local resources.
Some patrons have shared that heading to a casino to enroll in a VSE poses too much of a temptation. That’s a valid point, and it’s one of the reasons why we created remote VSE enrollment, which is the first of its kind in the nation. Patrons can still self-exclude in person or through confidential, online platforms. The program has created hundreds of success stories: over 1,000 Bay Staters are enrolled in a VSE. This is solely because Massachusetts lawmakers prioritized public health in crafting the Expanded Gaming Act in 2011.
One of the Boston greats, Pedro Martinez, said, “If you’re healthy, you’re capable of doing everything.” VSEs serve as an innovative, critical resource and keep countless Bay Staters healthy and safe. As such, making sure that these resources are within reach for all should remain paramount in future sports gambling legislation.
The health of thousands of Bay Staters — and the health of gaming in Massachusetts — is at stake.
Ken Averill is a Senior GameSense Advisor with the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and The Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health. He has over 24 years of experience in the gaming industry and previously worked as a table games dealer and operations manager.
For gambling-related questions, chat with a member of the GameSense team 24/7 via LiveChat at MACGH.org by calling the GamLine at 1-800-GAM-1234.
Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created those problems,”and Earl Nightingale also said,“Don’t wait for change, you change!” This is great advice for those in early recovery. It has been solid advice I continue to follow to this day.
Some of this post may sound like rambling recovery thoughts, but they are my thoughts, and I want to share them with you.
Change. I remember how resentful and angry I felt in my early recovery journey. I would get pissed off when I was being told to change, and it seemed I was hounded about change all the time!
When I got told, I had to make changes within my inner-self to get better and begin the healing process. It was always like a song in my head saying, “keep making those changes, or change your thinking, change your life!”
But you know what? It worked.
For example, I would hear others at GA meetings during our smoke break. They would chat about moving to a new location or a new state because they felt they would not have the problems with addicted gambling if only they lived somewhere else. HA!
I learned pretty quickly that is NOT the case, and you can change wherever you want to live, but your problems will go with you. If only beating addicted gambling was that easy.
You have to change your thinking and do the workaround CHANGE to change your life.
Believe it or not, most people never do much about changing their lives. Most people wish their lives away and talk boringly about things they will do, but lack of change and doing the work within recovery seems too much of a burden. That is also why relapse happens.
They feel doing the recovery work is too complex and much easier to continue down the same road with addiction and gambling.
Again, this happens a lot in early recovery. I did this myself. Maybe I had not hit my “rock bottom.” Most times, it was several things that kept me gambling. Like stress, triggers, and those darn constant urges to gamble.
My poor husband got so tired of hearing me say, “why is it me that has to do all the changing? These people aren’t perfect!” (I was referring to my counselor and my treatment therapists.) And I had a group night, and all of them gave out homework.
Look, I’m not going to lie! All of this in the first few years into my recovery was hard work. As I began each night, I would journal. Then, I would make a list to help me be honest with myself, learning what I did right and what thinking or old behaviors I fell back on that day. While doing this, it aided me to be accountable and honest with myself and to change those areas that needed correcting. It helped me to accept those things I have no control over.
Soon, I began to change my negative thoughts and thinking…but I was learning self-validation instead of looking for it from others. When we practice these changes and work The Steps in our early years of maintaining recovery while doing the work, we begin to make healthier choices that will automatically come.
AND? With all of the above?
That is what helps; you let go of the anger and resentments and know you are not the only one making CHANGES. Anyone who begins recovery will need to do the same work I have done, you will do, and it WILL be worth it. I have learned it was necessary while looking for true happiness, peace, and serenity while on this journey within recovery. Along the way, I found my worth and value in this LIFE.
It seemed the only way for me to CHANGE MY LIFE WITHIN RECOVERY was to CHANGE ME.
If you weren’t able to attend, it’s a must-watch. Mark and Harry powerfully revealed the truth about what is really happening in our communities and across our country. After you watch it, I strongly urge you to share the video on your email list and your social media networks, inviting people to learn for themselves how serious the problem of predatory gambling has become.
I also strongly encourage you to share the video with every local, state, and federal official in your region, along with members of the local and state media.
As the Super Bowl draws closer and gambling companies further intensify their ongoing barrage of sports gambling ads targeted at the American people, I’m writing to invite you to join us on Wednesday, Feb. 2nd at 12pm Eastern time for a national video webinar on what you need to know about the massive wave of sports gambling advertising and promotions spreading across the U.S. ******* ******** *********
As the Super Bowl draws closer and gambling companies further intensify their ongoing barrage of sports gambling ads targeted at the American people, I’m writing to invite you to join us on Wednesday, Feb. 2nd at 12pm Eastern time for a national video webinar on what you need to know about the massive wave of sports gambling advertising and promotions spreading across the U.S.
The event is for reporters, opinion leaders, public officials, and members of our national network to learn why sports gambling advertising and promotions are a dangerous threat to public health and the urgency for Congress to act.
Mark A. Gottlieb is the executive director of the Public Health Advocacy Institute at Northeastern University School of Law, where he is also a lecturer and clinical instructor. Mark has focused his research and advocacy on tobacco litigation as a public health strategy for most of his career. His article, “Casinos: An Addiction Industry in the Mold of Tobacco and Opioid Drugs” (co-authored with Daynard and Friedman) was recently published in the University of Illinois Law Review. You can read his article here.
Harry Levant is the Director of Education for Stop Predatory Gambling and a public health advocate from Philadelphia. A gambling addict in recovery who made his last bet on April 27, 2014, Levant is dedicating his professional work to helping people and families to overcome struggles with gambling addiction and other substance disorders. In his role as an advocate, Levant will graduate from La Salle University with a Master’s in Professional Counseling in May 2022.
He is a member of numerous professional organizations including Chi Sigma Iota National Honor Society for Counselors, the American Counseling Association, the Pennsylvania Counseling Association, and Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers of Pennsylvania. He also earned a law degree from Temple University Law School.
– A 501c3 non-profit based in Washington, DC, we are a national network of citizens and organizations across the U.S. revealing the truth behind gambling operators to prevent more victims.
– By choosing to support Stop Predatory Gambling today, you’re taking an active role in efforts to protect your community and its children from the poverty, addiction, and human suffering caused by the greed of big gambling operators.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit, Aristotle. By repeating my gambling acts, I became progressively more likely to do them again and again. By repeatedly attending meetings, talking with my Higher Power, sharing my feelings, and keeping connected with Gamblers Anonymous members between meetings, I become what I am doing: part of the GA Fellowship and being of service to others. If I continue to repeat these acts, I will become progressively more likely to do them again and again.”
Do I recognize that any small contribution I make at a meeting, in a blog post, or speaking event has a much greater return on investment than any bet I ever made, even my biggest hit?
Today I Pray May the acts that I repeat today be according to the will of my Higher Power. May I understand that, although perfection is not my goal, progress is possible, and I can achieve excellence at what I am doing for my recovery? It can be attainable to help me rid myself of my self-destructive habits and replace them with ones that will aid my recovery and to continue to share hope and support with others.
Today I Will Remember, Recovery is not an act; it is a habit through ACTIONS”. . .
Please readthe entire series of articles to expand your own knowledge about the truth behind gambling operators. The series is one of the few examples of independent scholarship being done on commercialized gambling because nearly all the research is presently funded by gambling operators.
If there is one topic I get a little passionate about, it is the topic of gambling and kids. Minors, those under the ages of 18.
Now, I am aware that all STATES have different gambling ages, most states the legal age is 21. There are a few like Oregon, where I used to live will let you gamble at age 18.
Here is my MAIN point, and why I wanted to share this special ‘Holiday Campaign’ and news by the National Council.
PARENTS NEED to understand you don’t buy or give Lottery Scratch Tickets to your children as a GIFT or Stocking Stuffer! Not only is it illegal? You are teaching your young kids to GAMBLE.
YES, I know, not everyone has or will have a problem with gambling, or when they get older. BUT? I feel if you start now and teach them to be responsible just as you council them about drugs, alcohol, or even smoking, you will help them in the long run.
Lottery tickets of any kind are not an appropriate thing to give to kids.
Let’s raise awareness together so we can save your kids from harm when they get older. If you know friends who do give Lottery Products to minors, let them know it can be as dangerous later on for them just as you talk and council your kids, again, about drugs and alcohol. Here are some of the warning signs of problem gambling below.
Make a difference for your clients and customers – join your colleagues across the country and around the world in our responsible gambling campaign to raise awareness regarding the risks of underage lottery use. Lottery products are appropriate for gifting only to adults, from adults.
Research shows why: the earlier a person’s participation or even exposure to gambling in childhood, the more likely they are to develop gambling problems later in life. And gambling in childhood is frequently some kind of lottery product, given through lack of awareness by a well-meaning adult.
This public-private campaign was previously known as the Holiday Lottery Responsible Gambling Campaign. The name was changed in response to requests from lottery organizations and feedback from our global stakeholders.
The new name enables lotteries all over the world to participate. It avoids the word ‘holiday,’ which in many global cultures describes what American English-speakers might call ‘vacation.’ It provides flexibility to expand the responsible giving message for all the occasions where children and minor teens might receive lottery tickets as gifts throughout the year. And it is a short name, which is easier to use in social media and advertising.
Whether or not it is legal for minors to participate in lottery games in your area, a responsible gambling message is always appropriate. The campaign continues to be endorsed and receives support from the World Lottery Association (WLA), European Lotteries (EL), and the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries (NASPL).
(*The images provided are free to use without license or restrictions, but we ask that you sign up as a participant before downloading them.*)
100% of Canadian and U.S. lotteries participated again last year in the campaign along with numerous international lotteries, non-lottery organizations, and many NCPG members.
During December and the winter holidays season, participating lottery organizations may choose to engage in different levels of public engagement classified as Lottery level 1, 2 or 3. These levels are intended to assist lotteries in planning their participation as well as to provide metrics that can be used in acknowledgment programs by NCPG, NASPL, WLA, and other organizations. Non-lottery organizations are welcome to join the Campaign and are encouraged to partner with their state lottery (where applicable) to support this important message.
Participants are also encouraged to become NCPG members (either as individuals or organizations) in order to receive updates on the campaign and to broaden their knowledge in problem gambling and responsible gambling. As members, they may also nominate themselves or others for the annual NCPG National Award for this campaign.
The campaign is sponsored by NCPG and the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University.
LET’S ALL BE MORE RESPONSIBLE THIS HOLIDAY GIFTING SEASON WITH LOTTERY PRODUCTS!
ABOUT THE NATIONAL COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING
MISSION & VALUES
Purpose: To serve as the national advocate for programs and services to assist people and families affected by problem gambling.
Vision: To improve health and wellness by reducing the personal, social and economic costs of problem gambling.
Mission: To lead state and national stakeholders in the development of comprehensive policy and programs for all those affected by problem gambling.
Neutrality: We do not take a position for or against legalized gambling. We advocate solely for those affected by problem gambling.
Collaboration: We believe that our mission is best served by the collaborative action of a broad range of people and organizations.
Respect: We will treat all those affected by problem gambling and all stakeholders with respect.
Credibility: We will strive to be an objective, accurate and reliable source of information for all those concerned with problem gambling.
NCPG 2020 Statement:
Respect is one of our core values. Racism and bigotry are unacceptable. We stand united with Black communities throughout our country and share in their pain, anger and frustration. Recent events remind us of the need to address fundamental problems of systemic racial inequality.
As we deal with the devastating health and financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on people with gambling problems, we are preparing new strategies to be of greater service to people of color. We will listen and reach out even more to our stakeholders of color, to learn how our services can better address their needs. We will strive to make our work more accessible, break down barriers and increase our advocacy. We will continue to emphasize our organization’s core values, and to treat all people with respect — with actions as well as words.
The organization was founded in 1972 by Msgr. Joseph A. Dunne and Dr. Robert Custer, among others. From the outset the Council established two principles that remain in effect today: that the organization would be the advocate for problem gamblers and their families, and that it would take no position for or against legalized gambling. This stance is encompassed today in our vision and mission statements above. A history of the NCPG from 1972 to 1985 by Msgr. Dunne was published in the Journal of Gambling Studies, Vol. 1, Issue 1.
NCPG was conceived as the national representative of the problem gambling field and is organized with 3 classes of members: state affiliate, corporate and individual. The NCPG concentrates efforts on the national level, while the state affiliates work at the state and local level.
There are certain situations that people find themselves, that it is only the hand of God that can bring them out. Divine intervention is the sudden movement of God upon your situation and challenges and when God is fighting for you as no one can harm you when under the covering of God…
Let me share how I work my recovery and some of my backstory, if you will, about my recovery journey within my faith.
Now, I’m not going to preach a ‘Sunday Gospel Sermon’ to you all… lol.
These are just some of my personal experiences of why I believe my recovery wouldn’t work doing so all by myself. I believe in a higher power greater and my higher power happens to be God and his Son, our Lord, and savior, Jesus Christ.
In November of 2002, my mother had passed, and then my best friend due to cancer, and my addiction at that time got so severe I tried suicide. My gambling addiction was raging out of control. My 40th birthday was in a week, and there I was, suffering in an addictions/mental health crisis center. I became one of the gambling addiction statistics OF 1 in 5 will try suicide.
Thankfully God stepped in and helped me when I could not help myself. I ended up at a Indian Casino for hours on a bad gambling binge when I was supposed to be at my best friend’s memorial service.
All of these events and loss was too much for me to handle!
See, I had turned my back on God when I became a gambling addict. Sounds kind of corny, but I would tell myself, “how can Jesus love me when I hate myself and deep into my addiction?” I felt he probably gave up on me anyway. I learned this was not true. But I kept on within my addiction and was deep in selfishness. I was lost, broken, and spiritually gone. Not knowing God had been with me every step of the way!
Within almost 30-days in this crisis center, I began a gambling treatment program. I was also diagnosed with several mental health disorders and started a medication treatment plan as well. I became a dually diagnosed person and beginning recovery. It was way more than I could handle or wrap my mind around at that time. I had a tough time accepting the fact that I had several mental disorders. And, yes, I did have another failed suicide in 2006, but that was all from my two of the medications I was on had stopped working. And, well, that is another post for another time.
Soon after my release from the crisis center, and while I was in the center, my husband started attended Church with his friends from work. It was where he drew his strength from as all this chaos I created with my addicted gambling. Faith helped me shed the guilt and pain of knowing what I put my husband through. Because now I had even MORE GUILT of scaring our families and my husband with my failed suicide! My husband kept going to Church and didn’t push me to go.
See, we were both raised Catholics, but a few years into our marriage, we stopped attending mass as we both felt disappointed about all the media and news coming out about the abuse of many children at the hands of priests. We also didn’t feel right or agree any longer about “giving confession ” as it felt like it was an intrusion of our relationship, our personal relationship with God.
I finally decided to go with him to Church and we attended Calvary Chapel in late December 2002. By August of 2003, we rededicated our lives and faith to Christ by being rebaptized, still living in Grants Pass, Oregon at that time, and within the Famous Rogue River.
This was a miracle for me as I had my husband on one side and the Pastor on the other. When they lifted me out of the water? I honestly felt feelings I had never had before. It was like all the bad in my life and within addiction had slipped away and replaced by what I felt: God’s love, grace, and mercy, and I haven’t looked back since!
I still have and feel those same feelings today.
Without my faith in my higher power, GOD, I know that I would not be sharing this with you. I genuinely am a living, breathing, walking MIRACLE of God, his power greater than myself. It has enabled me to reach over 14+years maintaining my recovery path and counting.
Do I go to Church every Sunday?
No, because as God tells us in Matthew 18:20 – – “For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
So, long story short, never underestimate the power of your higher power. It is where all your MIRACLES within recovery come from!
This would never have happened without all my recovery friends, supporters, and the recovery COURIOUS! I hope I have been of help and a source of HOPE to those who visit that may have a Gambling Problem and looking for resources or just come to read some of my recovery experiences, strength, and hope!
I know recovery is not an easy road to travel, especially early recovery, but if I can help you in away, do not be afraid to reach out to me by email to email@example.com and I’ll be there for you!
There could be thousands of reasons why people adopt gambling, and even psychologists don’t know why people gamble? It started as fun for some persons, and for some, it was meant to escape their sorrows. But in the end, the result was always the same; Gambling Stops Being a Diversion and Becomes an Addiction.
~Catherine Townsend-Lyon Author and Experienced Gambling Advocate of Recovery
A while back I came across what looked like a new Gambling Addiction and Recovery blog that seemed to really never transpire. I happened to visit again and the same original first post was still up, but not much activity after. That is the “nature of the beast” when it comes to addicted gambling. It seems sometimes the addiction may win over just trying to “will it away” and it won’t work very well.
But then? EUREKA! More New Posts Began To Be Posted! And many of Uri’s posts are not only informative? They are very revealing to the facts that Gambling Addiction truly is the hardest addiction to KICK! So, my deepest hope for all who visit me will take some time and go visit Uri and read a few of his posts about his recovery journey.
He speaks very openly as he shares his gambling and his recovery hopes and challenges. One that is really difficult and will share a little of his post is about LYING to his partner. For me? That was all about being in DENIAL.
“I am not upset that you lied to me; I am upset that from now on I can never believe you” ~Friedrich Nietzsche
After being more than 2 years free from gambling activities, I noticed that I still have a huge problem with lying to my partner. It became a habit and somehow I can’t stop lying to my partner. Someone once said to me that for as long as you lied to your partner, expect them not to believe you for the same time after you stop lying. It will hurt when they question you when you are telling the truth, you will be surprised because you never even thought to lie.
This advice helped me to think that did I achieve anything worthwhile by lying or cheating. I started thinking that what I am hiding from her? Why I am so insecure? Why my self-respect is at rock bottom? Why I am addicted to lying? Sooner I realized that lying is like a slippery dangerous slope with nothing good at the bottom but misery and empty life.
We all lie in different situations in our lives. We all have our reasons for lying, it may be to escape punishment in our childhood. When we grow up, we lie to get attention or sympathies and some even create stories to set friends against each other or get others in trouble. It is an expression of being afraid, what others will think, afraid of facing the reality. We want to show people that we are better than others and reflect the weakness of our character. This could be the result of low self-esteem, fear of rejection, desire to please, or any other nuanced reasons.
A liar justifies or makes stories to cover up something he has done wrong. To cover the first lie, another lie is required and this leads to an endless chain of lies. I had no idea about my case, why I was manipulating different situations to lie with my partner. Sooner I realized that I am a habitual liar, I tried to discover the root of my behavior, why I am doing and what I am avoiding. I thought that if I want to spend the rest of my life with my partner, I must avoid this habit of lying to restore the level of trust in our relationship.
If you are constantly lying to your dear ones and you are not able to do anything about it, then you don’t want to change. You cannot change what has developed in you for years. If someone matters to you in your life then you have to be truthful or else you will end up losing not only that person but your importance, your respect and the likeness you were trying to create will go away in a moment and will never come back.
All the lies which are still covered can come crashing down on your head at any time. You will live in constant fear of the truth being discovered and expose you which creates a bad effect on your nerves. Stop living in dream world with a fake identity. Get out of your unreal world and start living in present rather than the past or future.
A person who often tells fibs will never have trustworthy friends and will not be loved by anyone. Life is not only judged by a rich lifestyle, fluent language ability, or branded clothes. It is measured by the number of faces who simile when they hear your name. Analyze your life and try to find how it has impacted your life and others around you. Somewhere or somehow it has broken a lot of innocent hearts or brought tears to the eyes of your loved ones.
Do you think you feel happy about it?
How To Stop Lying?
Start thinking, why you want to quit lying, think about the bad things associated with being a liar. I am not an expert by any means but you must ask yourself why you are lying? Why are you not comfortable with the truth? Learn to appreciate things you have in life and be satisfied with your family, friends, and your surroundings.
But what makes sense to me is that instead of trying “not to lie anymore” which is difficult to achieve in one day, try to focus on making little but sturdy progress. Think to yourself why you’re lying? Why are you not comfortable with the truth? Is it because you are not confident? Or on the other hand you fear reality?
You can’t change the past, the past is immutable. But as long as you understand that the time of yore was something that you’ve learned, and then it won’t haunt you as much.
Few imperative things to consider while struggling to come out of this habit:
Never give up! People have thrived in breaking the nastiest & most addictive habits, you can do the same!
Change is going on in little- often not noticeable steps. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t observe changes immediately, YOU ARE CHANGING!
There will be setbacks. There is no way to accomplish a goal without failing on the way. Remember: failing doesn’t mean to stop struggling and starting all over again; you rewired your brain by fighting your habit & it will become easier & easier until it will go away!
My dear friend Mark has been running this gambling recovery website since I began my own journey of recovery and shortly after my book had released. It sometimes is not as active as it should be, because just like gambling addiction itself? It is still a hush, hush, silent taboo topic to be open and talk about due to the heavy shame and guilt. Those who become problem gamblers or have lost control of their gambling, don’t want to admit they have a problem.
And that can come from denial or blame others, or they are just not ready to get help.
So I wanted share some from Mark’s website here as he shares that gambling addiction doesn’t care who you are or where you are from, it will touch even your teens! But there is help available and HOPE. I am living proof that recovery is possible, it does work if your are willing, and you don’t have to get to dire straights to gain your life back from this cunning addiction. Now, I will tell you that Mark and his website leans in heavy for Gamblers Anonymous and the 12-Step program. But, I can tell you it didn’t work for me alone.
My addiction was so bad I had to do ANY and EVERYTHING I could find, including a treatment in-patient program (NOT BY CHOICE) but it saved my life! Then I transitioned to out-patient treatment with therapy and group. It doesn’t matter what you choose to get back to a life without a “Monkey on your BACK,” just pick something and stick with it! So, here is the areas I wanted to share from Mark’s website as it is very informative as gambling addiction becomes a FAMILY addiction. Everyone becomes effected by the addict. Support is the KEY. . .
Help With Gambling Addiction – A Guide for Impacted Families
Are you looking for help with gambling addiction?
Do you have a loved one who’s a problem gambler? Maybe you’re not quite sure yet if they have a gambling problem, and you’re starting to research? Or maybe you’re already certain that there’s a problem, and are looking for help? Wherever you are in this process, this website focuses on all types of gambling problem recovery topics for the loved ones of problem gamblers. While there’s information on the site that problem gamblers themselves may also find helpful, the focus is to provide help to the loved ones of gamblers impacted by the gambling problem.
It’s important to understand that I’m not a professional in the field of problem gambling or addictions, nor I am even in the medical field. I am, however, someone with first-hand experience discovering that my spouse is a problem gambler, and living with the hardship and turmoil that comes from the progressive disease of gambling.
Fortunately, I also have experience working through the addiction recovery process with my spouse, and for myself. So while I’m not a expert in the field, and have no professional qualifications to give advice, I can speak from personal experience, and straight from my heart to yours to hopefully help you and your family start down the road to recovery.
Through my own research, including Internet searches, books, and individual therapy, I came to realize that while resources gamblers to get help with gambling addiction is plentiful, help for the spouses and loved ones is few and far between. Hence, seeing this gap, I became motivated to put together this website as a free resource.
If I can help even one person, or one family find the right path for helping your gambler and/or yourself, then it will have been worthwhile. Essentially, this site contains information that is from my personal experience, as well as concepts and techniques that I’ve compiled over the years, including talking with my individual therapist, talking with others with problem gamblers in their lives, as well as what I learned through the intervention experience that myself and my loved one went through.
What to look for if you think a loved or partner has a gambling problem
Your spouse disappears for long periods of time during the day and/or night, and doesn’t provide adequate reasons when questioned, or is obviously lying.
You know your spouse is gambling and money continually goes missing, and this is either creating financial strain in terms of paying for bills and activities, or you have already begun defaulting on loans and other payments.
When you discuss the topic of problem gambling, they either dismiss it as not an issue, or acknowledge that things have gotten out of hand, but that they can stop if they want to.
You’ve found yourself making significant financial adjustments, whether it’s moving (whether due to a foreclosure or voluntarily selling your home), downsizing cars (or repossessions), etc.
You’re credit cards have consistently higher balances due to cash advances, or are over limit, and you’re getting calls from collectors.
Money from your bank accounts is disappearing due to unexpected/unaccounted for withdrawals.
Large unexplained sums of money are deposited to your bank account.
Communication with your spouse is difficult, stressful, or generally ineffective or non-existent.
They’ve attended Gamblers Anonymous and either continue to gamble or have discontinued attending meetings.
They tried individual therapy and/or couples therapy with you, and they continue to gamble.
You generally feel that your life is out of control and unmanageable.
In addition to sharing experiences, ideas, and techniques in dealing with a loved one who’s a problem gambler, this site is also meant to provide information about problem gambling itself. What is it? How do you know your loved one is a problem gambler? Can it be cured? What’s Gamblers Anonymous? What’s Gam-Anon?
Other questions that you might be asking yourself at this point might include:
What can I do to help?
Should I do something to help or leave it be?
Should I stay with, or leave my gambler?
How should I handle finances?
Is gambling really a disease?
Although I’ve used the word “should” liberally, inferring that you’ll find all of THE answers here, that’s not going to be the case. Everyone’s situation is so unique, personal, and complex that no one could possibly tell you exactly what to do. The reality is that there’s truly no one right answer for your situation.
There are different paths you can take, each one with its pros and cons. Ultimately you’ll need to decide what’s best for you and your personal situation. In fact, I would venture to say that if someone purports to KNOW exactly what you should do, I would caution you, as nothing is that simple, even for a problem gambling professional or addiction specialist.
Unlike other resources available to you, it not only provides the background information regarding getting help with gambling addiction all in one place, but also provides a forum for people to share their experiences, as well as ask and answer questions. While hopefully you’ll come to believe that there’s no one right answer to your problems, it can often be very helpful to ask a question and have a direct dialog about possible answers/solutions. I’ve found that this type of forum is not readily available for loved ones of problem gamblers.
If you’ve read this far, it’s highly likely that you’re feeling overwhelmed by the gambling problem in your life, and you need help. While this site won’t cure your problems, you can rest assured that you’ve found a place to learn, share, and dialog with people who understands what you’re experiencing, and who can help guide you to the tools you’ll need for the learning process. As the site grows, it will become even more valuable for you as you read about others who have experienced similar situations, and learn about what they did to work towards rebuilding a healthy way of life.
I URGE All My Friends and Visitors to My Website Here of “Bet Free Recovery Now” take some time to visit Mark at his site and share your comments of hope and inspire those who may be needing it over this long 4th of July Holiday Weekend. https://www.help-with-gambling-addiction.com/
I want to talk about a bad habit and behavior of self-sabotage. I know the meaning of it very intimately. For those who don’t? Here is what it means. Self-Sabotage: The dictionary definition of sabotage is “an act or process tending to hamper or hurt” or “deliberate subversion.” Mine started way before I became a gambling addict. I also feel it became worse during my addiction like added fuel to fire. In early recovery and through therapy, I was able to look back throughout my life and examine many of my past relationships where I had self-sabotaged them in many ways.
I feel that when we ‘self-sabotage’ things in our lives, it is tied to not having self-esteem or self-worth within ourselves. Like we are not “worthy” of love or people treating us well. It came from being raised with parents who didn’t understand children crave unconditional love and their validation when we do good. And I am NOT blaming my parents that they were this way, no, it may have been how they were raised and raised in way different times than what we live in today.
I would sabotage relationships, many with men, women, co-workers, anyone. I can not count how many times I would be dating a really nice guy, when things started to become serious and he would treat me like a ‘queen,’ I would for some reason feel I wasn’t worthy or special enough so, I would just break up with them, or cause a fight or just ignore them and move on. Where this was coming from at the time I did not know. This became even worse when I was addicted to gambling and finally learning it was part of the “Brains Dopamine Pleasure & Reward System.”
But fast forward in life and I continued this strange self-sabotage behavior. When I became addicted to gambling and in the worst of it, strangely the feelings of what I was doing to myself, my husband, friends, and family felt oddly normal to me. I think it was because I figured, “well, since I feel not worthy of goodness in my life it didn’t matter if I hurt others with my addicted gambling.” That was my sick and the diseased thinking at the time. Sadly, I was getting back at those who had caused me pain or hurt me. I was just hurting myself and everyone around me with both my gambling and self-sabatoge.
I came across a website that had a good explamation and article about this subject that helped me understand more of why I was doing it. SO I want to share it with you. I know I am not the only person who has had this problem and the post explains some of how we can stop self-sabatoge. It helped me and I hope it may help others.
Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you want consciously. Moreover, it is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifests in self-sabotage patterns. It not only prevents you from reaching your goal, but also becomes a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment. In other words, your brain is protecting you from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best, which is keeping you within your comfort zone.
Self-sabotage tends to linger in our lives because of a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, and self-belief. Likewise, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we are unable to manage our emotions effectively. We tend to react to events, circumstances and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.
Self-sabotage is also used as a method of coping with difficult situations or high expectations of ourselves or others that we unconsciously feel we are not capable of reaching. No matter what our reasons for self-sabotage it is clear that if we don’t do something about it, that we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.
Eliminating Self-Sabotage Process
There is a simple yet very effective process that we can follow to help us eliminate self-sabotage from our lives. The process is composed of four steps that will help you to take conscious control of the behaviors that are currently directing your decisions and actions. Learn to get out of your own way!
1. Identify Self-Sabotage Behavior
First we must identify the behavior that is preventing us from moving forward. To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily decisions and actions and the resulting consequences. Once identified, it’s important to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing this behavior to come through to the surface. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Next, we must ask ourselves whether we can avoid these triggers altogether?
By simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. However, there is yet another factor that we must take into consideration, which is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotage pattern. The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on transforming them into positive empowering beliefs that work for us rather than against us. One of the simplest ways to do this is the question the validity of your belief.
What is it that I believe in this situation?
What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?
How did my belief about this trigger this self-sabotage pattern?
How is this belief ridiculous and impractical?
What would others say about this belief?
What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?
These questions are a good starting point and will get you focused in the right direction.
2. Recreate Self-Sabotage Pattern from Beginning
Having completed step #1, you can now consciously recreate the self-sabotage pattern by outlining all the triggers and the associating behaviors that manifest as a result of these triggers. It’s important that you are clear how this behavior manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.
3. Identify Healthy Replacement Behavior
In order to eliminate an old pattern of behavior we often must replace it with a new pattern of behavior that’s more practical and helpful. This is important because often we simply can’t avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in limiting ways. As such, we must take time to identify a new, different and appropriate way of responding that will help us to achieve our goals and objectives.
How could I respond in a more appropriate and proactive manner that would help me get what I want?
How is this a better way to respond?
What are some reasons for making this change?
What could be the long-term benefits of transforming how I respond in this situation?
What are the key advantages of this new behavior?
4. Practice New Behavior Until Habit is Formed
Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible over the next four weeks until a habit is formed. First begin by running your response to the situation in your imagination, seeing every detail, and feeling the positive energy churning through your body as you overcome this self-sabotage pattern.
Now that your imagination has been primed, you are now ready to put yourself in situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behavior, however this time, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new habit is finally formed. NOW GO READ THE REST OF THIS AMAZING ARTICLE ON… Again, I hope you will go read this full article http://blog.iqmatrix.com/overcome-self-sabotage as it has many tips and advice on taking control over self-sabatoge in your life and in your recovery journey!
Super Bowl media attention is everywhere. You can hear about it on the news, on sports stations, in the newspapers and in every office we work in. Many offices have square charts in the back room where employees can participate in gambling on who they believe would win or the points or on how long the national anthem will last or anything else. Some people literally gamble on every aspect of the event.
If an individual, or groups of individuals, are so focused on gambling on every part of the Super Bowl event, are they really enjoying the game or are they hunting for a “high?” And if they’re only hunting for the high, what about their careers? What about loved ones (family children, etc.)? If the individual is so hyper focused on gambling rather than enjoying the game, it seems that this becomes the focus and takes away from the social aspects of enjoying a sporting event with loved ones.
The Effects of Problem Gambling
For people struggling with problem gambling, this might be their story. There are many people across New York State who experience a slew of problems associated with their gambling behavior. Some of these problems can be damaged relationships with a spouse and/or children, conflicts at work, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Gambling may have even turned into an addiction (i.e., gambling disorder).
For people in recovery, the Super Bowl may be a huge trigger to start gambling again. It may be difficult to avoid talking about the Super Bowl, hearing people talk about betting on the Super Bowl, and feeling the urge to resort to old habits and place a bet of some type on this event. The Super Bowl may trigger a relapse.
Families Can Take Action
Families and loved ones of someone struggling with a gambling problem, or of someone in recovery from problem gambling may face similar obstacles to support their loved one who is struggling with problem gambling. Similarly, they can be helpful and supportive during this time of year.
Have a conversation
Having a conversation is important for everyone. Whether it’s to let someone know that you believe their gambling is causing problems, or to connect with someone in recovery and find out how they’re feeling. A conversation is a really easy way to get a finger on the pulse of what’s going on with the individual. It’s also a good way to gauge how the family can plan for the upcoming event.
A conversation could be as simple as asking questions like:
How are you feeling lately?
Are you feeling any pressure at work or from friends to gamble?
Are you planning on watching the Super Bowl or would you like us to plan something else as a family?
Some simple questions can get some simple answers. They could also be a springboard to a deeper conversation about the negative effects sports gambling has had. It can also be a great way to identify triggers and other activity ideas to avoid gambling on the Super Bowl.
Triggers are anything that causes an individual to feel the urge to gamble. A trigger could be a commercial about the Super Bowl, it could be hearing the excitement of colleagues talking about their squares, or a trigger could be just knowing the time of year and remembering the feeling, the high, of gambling on the Super Bowl in previous years. Whatever the triggers may be, it’s important for family and love ones to know what they are so they can help avoid them in conversation, and help prepare the person, struggling to avoid gambling, to know their triggers and come up with alternative activities.
Alternative activities can be different ways to enjoy the Super Bowl. These ways include:
Watching it with different people who aren’t gambling,
Keeping phones with gambling contacts and apps away,
Asking a spouse to keep a close watch on extra money,
Avoiding media and social media,
Spending time with different people than those who are gambling, and
Planning activities that have nothing to do with the Super Bowl.
For people who want to avoid the Super Bowl, so they don’t find themselves in additional problems related to gambling, there are many other things to do during that time. Ideas to spend time with love ones can include:
Legos with children,
Renovating a room in your home, or
Anything else that takes time, energy and focus.
Being that many of us are alone, especially with social distancing, choosing activities to do by yourself is also important. Some activities to do on your own can include (similar to above):
Re-organizing part of your home,
Video chatting with love ones,
Planning a movie or night of binge watching your favorite TV show,
Any type of art or craft.
Really, the options are limitless. And if you’re unsure what to do, reach out to a loved one and find out the best way to fill that time. Making sure there’s a plan to help keep loved ones safe is the best preventative care to help them avoid further problems associated with gambling.
If you need additional support, or your loved one who struggles with gambling problems has decided to look for help, please reach out to your local Problem Gambling Resource Center at NYProblemGamblingHELP.org. There you can connect with a dedicated professional eager to help you identify local resources and get connected to local support as desired.
There is no pressure with that call; only care and concern. Your local Problem Gambling Resource Center is HERE TO HELP. You can may also call The National Council On Problem Gambling and operates the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network (1-800-522-4700). The network is a single national access point to local resources for those seeking help for a gambling problem. You may also visit their website here https://www.ncpgambling.org/programs-resources/
Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a recovering compulsive gambler.
A little bit about my background. My mother passed away when I was 8 years old. It turned my whole world upside down in an instant. I was separated from my family and was sent to live with my father whom I did not know, down in Georgia. I went to live at a children’s home when I was 11.
Looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to me. Went through routine teenager stuff for the most part. Met my now ex-husband and we were married for 26 years. I have twin boys who will soon be 30 and a beautiful granddaughter. I should mention here that my ex was in the military, we moved around a lot and I raised our boys mostly on my own. I have always relied on myself to handle things, not always the best decision. I never learned to ask for help or truly trust anyone.
When my ex got ready for retirement we finally moved back home to Washington, who says you can never go home again? It was a very difficult transition. Funny when I think of it now, how when I lived here before, I had the most traumatic experience of my life when my mom died, now back home I had to deal with the second most traumatic experience, my kids going through some very trying stuff (law breaking/possible prison) and a divorce that was a long time coming.
I couldn’t deal with it at all and I went off the deep end and down the dark rabbit hole which is known to a lot of us as the casino. My kids were off on their own, my ex was living the high life, I had disposable income and low self-esteem and nowhere to go, no place safe, no way to stop all the screaming, crying voices in my head. I had been to the casino socially and it was no big deal, had dinner, would play $20 and I could call it good. At least for a while.
My gambling career lasted for about 6 years. I knew things where changing about half way in and couldn’t stop myself. It was a place to go any time of day or night, didn’t matter what I looked like, I could smoke all I wanted and no one to bother me. It was my safe place, what a joke that turned out to be. Then I turned the corner and lied to my son, of course by then I was lying to everyone about where I was and what I was doing and no one ever understood why I never had any money. I was a closet gambler, no one knew.
I finally started writing bad checks and covered my last one with my son’s money by telling him I needed it to cover one from the grocery store and I was getting paid the next day. He loaned me the money and I did pay it back the next day but that was it for me, I couldn’t do this to my child, for me, I had crossed some line. Of course, there is more to my story, but to go forward …
I finally broke down and went to a local GA group in town. Whew, what a monumental life changing experience. I went to meetings, I got a sponsor, began to work the steps and eventually I found peace. I could look myself in the eye, I had goals. I had money again and was eventually able to buy my first home all by myself. I stayed bet free for 3-years until about a month ago. That is what has prompted me to share my story, my relapse. Working Step 4 all over again. I would never recommend a relapse but for me, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. During my 3-years bet free, I always had this “what if” thing hanging over my head. Asking myself, what would it be like, could I gamble socially, am I really and truly a compulsive gambler…
I think subconsciously I planned it all along and now that it is over and done with I am good. All questions answered. YES, I am a compulsive gambler without a doubt. I started right where I left off. So how did I get to that point and what did I do about it. Well first off, I had quit going to my GA meetings. For several reasons, the group is small and became toxic, it became harder and harder to put principals before personalities. It was no longer a safe place for me to go.
So, I resigned my chairing and treasury positions and quit. Are there other meetings yes, but I was burned out. Now to back up a bit, I live in my little house which I absolutely love. Nothing special, but it’s all mine and I now share it with 2 of my younger brothers whom I have gotten reunited with over the years after having moved back home. For the most part it is working out wonderfully, but mind you I did not grow up with siblings. I did not grow up learning the art of conflict or arguing. I avoid confrontation on all fronts. Be invisible, keep your head down and keep going, I should note here that I have changed that way of thinking in a big way thanks to what I have learned in GA.
So long story short, had a huge argument with my brother that lasted for weeks, my home was no longer my emotionally safe place. I avoided it as much as I could. I knew I was about to go off the edge. I had many options, I could have called someone, could have looked for this website (GamTalk), could have gone to one of the other meetings, I knew exactly what I was doing and did it anyway. I wanted to, I am a risk taker, I wanted the questions answered, truth is, I already knew the answer.
So off to the casino I went. I purposefully went out of town so as to hopefully not be seen by anyone I knew. Sneaky behavior…I lied about where I was…old habits coming back never skipping a beat. So off I went ready and excited… I won, left with money and all the way home I kept telling myself it can’t end this way, so I went back the next day fully intent on losing it all. I did and then some, per usually gamblers behavior.
I did enough damage to hurt but not wipe me out. It’s a control thing and I fully recognize how I had subconsciously planned for this. What surprised me the most is how I have handled the relapse. First thing I did was to beat myself up on the long drive home, but I got home early and it was still day light, normally after a loss I would crawl in bed for days, even miss work.
Instead I put in my earphones started listening to gamblers stories and went for a 2 hour walk. I spent the next two days outside, hiking and driving through some of our beautiful state parks, totally outside the box of a normal day in my life. I wrote in my journal. I wrote my gratitude list, I prayed, I chatted a bit on this site. I feel relieved. I feel peace. I am renewed and ready to continue my recovery. I know that in GA I have to start over but I am not letting 9 hours of my relapse time to wipe out over a 1000 days of recovery. At least that is where my mind is at and I have had the best weeks in my life since.
I had to cleared the air with my brother and my home is my safe place again and I will never give that up again. I believe and completely trust my higher power. The nagging questions in the back of my mind are answered and put to rest. I have bounced back financially. I have left out a lot of details, but the bulk of it is now written, step 4, part of it anyway, sharing with you is step 5 for me. Thank you for being here, I intend to continue here as part of my ongoing recovery. This is just one more chapter in the book of my life, it had its twists and turns, but it’s not the end by far… Bless you!
* * * * *
This story is courtesy of a great place to be for those trying to stay in or maintain recovery from problem or addicted gambling. A resource called GAMTALK and free to JOIN: https://www.gamtalk.org/join/ They have several resources and you can chat with like minded people in the Chat Forum or The Community Wall and is run by the Founder, Dr. Richard Wood and they support all things GA. (Gamblers Anonymous) and more.
Please, stop by there GAMTALK’s website and see for yourself how helpful it is or if you know anyone with a gambling problem. They are sponsored by many who care about those who may become addicted to gambling… ~Advocate, Catherine Lyon
Dr. Wood has published numerous gambling related articles, presented his findings at conferences and seminars around the world, and undertaken many responsible gaming consultations for both the gaming industry and regulatory sectors. His research focuses on both the individual causes of problem gambling, as well as the structural characteristics of games that can influence the gambling behaviour of vulnerable players.
Specialties: Designing effective responsible gambling strategies. Examining the structural and situational characteristics of game design and gaming environments to minimise any negative consequences for ‘vulnerable’ players.
Understanding the psychology of gaming in order to promote healthy gaming attitudes and behaviours, investigating problem gambling and evaluating treatment and intervention programs.
He provides online support for people with gambling issues on GAMTALK. He resides in Ontario, Canada
What a whirlwind of a recovery year we all have had, RIGHT?
As a person maintaining recovery and an advocate, it has been an a wild and bumpy ride to say least. I many people looking recovery resources and mentoring than ever before while this pandemic continues to rage and continue to spread like wild fire.
I don’t know about you, but many things have occurred in my recovery journey this year that I couldn’t catch my breath. With Thanksgiving come and gone, the Christmas season is upon us, an odd year for sure; I am sure ready for a New Year! How do you live your recovery lifestyle amidst all the crazy going on since early 2020? I thought I’d share some of mine and make a point that no matter what life may throw at us?
We just never give up our recovery.
Has it been a challenging year since COVID turned our recovery path upside down? Well, yes. But I, for one, kept my long-term recovery path through it all. How do you ask? It wasn’t easy! It started with some personal and business pitfalls around the end of March. My literary marketing business took a hit as one by one, I lost all my author clients as they got furloughed from their jobs. It wasn’t about the little extra income I made. It was thinking, now, what will I do with all my time?
With authors having no money to market and promote their books. Nothing was selling as people focused on where the rent money, bill money or new jobs would come from, and just as recovery and everything else began to shift to online only. Then? It was an election year on top of that! And if you are a person who is on social media like I have to be when my business was running, it got really politically ugly and I had never seen America become so divided.
So, with the pandemic still spreading and medical experts telling us to STAY HOME, I actually had time to make Thanksgiving dinner with a nice turkey meal even though it was my birthday on Thanksgiving day. And as GOD is always taking care of us, I was blessed with gifts and even had a birthday cake my husband had special ordered for me.
Again, recovery has been rough since we can’t do meetings or groups in person. And tougher for me as a recovery advocate unable to speak, raise awareness and NO recovery awareness live in-person events. So, here are some things I have been doing to keep my recovery path moving forward, keeping it intact, and continue to share my voice and help others know that Recovery is Possible.
Read – Journal – Watch – Listen!
Since having more time, I have been writing and journaling like never before. It includes my recovery writing like for my column in “Keys to Recovery” newspaper and I was invited to write an article for a global magazine called ADIVA Magazine for their column “Her Story” for the Fall/Winter issue. Very exciting! I was honored to be part of the ADIVA Family.
Here are some things you can do at home through the holiday season to enhance your recovery.
Journaling is an amazing tool for processing “old pain” and healing. Another area is reworking your 12-Steps. Did you know when you continue to work your steps? You can go back to them at an earlier time and see what areas you need more growth, but you can see how far you have come. This helps to build your self-esteem and self-worth needed to move forward, maintaining your recovery.
Reading is a tool we can use to stay educated and learn by reading many addiction and recovery books. Audiobooks and e-books have become most popular since the pandemic. You can listen to a great book while doing work or cleaning at the same time. I have also been watching and listening to lots of podcasts and radio shows. I’ve even been a guest on several this year as an advocate. Visit my Book Suggested reads while you are here or visit this Amazon link and see all the amazing books on addiction/recovery to read! https://www.amazon.com/Recovery-Health-Mind-Body-Books/b?ie=UTF8&node=4716
All of these activities can enhance our recovery during the holiday season.
Listening & Watching: Since most of as us have already shifted to online everything for recovery, like GA, AA, NA meetings, recovery groups, FB Live Celebrate Recovery, worship, and more. It is also important to continue being supported within your recovery by friends and family.
There are many free apps and platforms we can use to do so. Skype, What’s App, FB Messenger, Zoom, and watch FB Live events & visit recovery groups and many more. But never discount the good ole PHONE. Check-in with friends, your sponsor, and let them know how your doing. Watching and doing Podcasts shows is agreat way to share your voice and story of recovery! I have been a guest on several this year.
Last? Dive into the Christmas season by making your living space in your home Merry and Christmasey with decorations, lights, and maybe a little tree. Even though we can’t be all together this Christmas, you can still enjoy the season within your own home. Put on a mask and walk the neighborhood to see all the festive light displays or even drive to them in your car. It will also help the winter or seasonal blues and be healthy for our mental and emostional well-being.
So, yes, we still find ourselves with this pandemic during our recovery holiday season, and again, spreading. Listening to health professionals and those experts in your state or country you live in and to stay healthy and safe is part of our life, our recovery journey, and while keeping our recovery intact.
You Got This!
It’s called having life-balance! Besides, the good news is the vaccines are coming, and so is a “Fresh Happy New Year for a “Do-Over!” I know 2021 is going to bring us all life and recovery renewal, peace, and serenity. Next year, we will have so much to celebrate and have gratitude for knowing we all made it through.
Those of us maintaining recovery know we never give up!
As most people were literally left to their own devices during COVID-19 related lockdowns, many began engaging with technology in different new ways. Recent reports show that online gambling services have exploded in popularity, which could lead to a subsequent increase in gambling addiction.
The implementation of COVID-19 related lockdowns worldwide corresponded with a dramatic increase in many people’s screen time. While swiping the long hours away can help alleviate some of the restlessness and anxiety that comes from being stuck at home, it also increases exposure to heavily marketed goods and services, including online gambling.
Some countries have noted that bookmakers increased advertising on websites and social media to lure in potential customers, which can be problematic for those struggling with a gambling addiction, or those simply suffering from boredom and looking for a way to kill time.
Approximately 1 percent of the adult population in the United States has a severe gambling problem. The most recent research estimates that 6 to 9 percent of young people and young adults experience problems related to gambling — a higher rate than among adults.
Though a few countries such as Belgium, Spain and Latvia have imposed some restrictions on online gambling in order to try and curb addiction during the lockdowns, the majority of these services remain easily accessible and highly tempting. This poses a serious risk for an uptick in gambling addictions during the pandemic.
How the Pandemic Has Fueled Online Gambling
In a few short months, our daily lives and regular habits have changed dramatically. Both the physical and mental impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak have contributed to an increased use of online gambling services.
These impacts include:
Boredom, Depression and Anxiety
Few of us are used to spending so many hours, day after day, in our own homes. Cut off from our regular outdoor activities, classes, and even workspaces, many people began feeling bored, anxious, and even depressed.
The pandemic itself lent to stress not only about our health, but also about our work and relationships. These feelings, plus the shift of most interactions to an online forum, created a perfect storm for susceptibility to clicking onto an online gambling site.
Ban on Live Sports, Closure of Casinos
The crowds found in casinos and sports arenas around the world were quickly recognised as hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus, and were shuttered in many countries. For the first time, major sports seasons and events, including the upcoming Olympics, have been suspended, leaving avid sports fans and casual gamblers at a loss. Dramatic increases in visitors to online gambling sites suggest that people are filling the gap through online gambling.
Is Online Gambling More Addictive?
A recent study by the UK’s Gambling Commission found that 1.2% of all people who gamble have developed an addiction, but this figure increases to 2.5% when only online sports betting is considered, and a staggering 9.2% when the focus shifts to online gaming like casino games and roulette.
Part of this is due to the speed of online gambling – gamblers don’t have to wait for specific matches or tournaments, but can place bets in quick succession, chasing wins (or losses) one after the other. Because it is possible to gamble using credit cards instead of cash in hand, debts can be run up extremely quickly before people even really wrap their heads around how much is at stake. The fact that this type of gambling is available 24/7 via a simple click on our phones or computers, also factors into the heightened addiction rates.
Additionally, online gambling is more easily hidden. It’s far more obvious if you are spending hours at the casino or at a racetrack than if you are simply sitting in the corner scrolling and clicking. This lack of visibility can mean that others may not see you need help until the problem has become very serious.
Do You Have a Gambling Addiction?
There are many people who do enjoy casual or occasional gambling that does not result in any negative consequences to financial or mental health. These are gamblers who can accept a loss and walk away from a further bet.
However, if you are noticing that you’re clicking into sites more often, and placing larger and larger bets, you may be developing a dependency. Gambling addiction impacts both men and women, and can have serious effects.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Constantly thinking about or reliving gambling-related experiences
Increasing amounts of time during the day spent gambling
Repeated, unsuccessful attempts to reduce or stop gambling
Using gambling as a “go-to” activity to relax or feel better
Having to make increasingly larger or riskier bets to feel satisfied or excited
Trying to win back money lost through gambling by engaging in further gambling
Attempting to downplay or cover up gambling habits
Experiencing financial strain as a result of gambling
Impacts of a Gambling Addiction
When people think of gambling addiction, it is immediately assumed that most of the impacts are financial. While those who struggle with gambling do face financial difficulties as a result of their dependency, the impacts of gambling go far beyond bank accounts, and often have serious negative effects on relationships, work and even legal issues.
Gambling has been proven to impact mental health, and has been linked to conditions like depression, and anxiety disorders. People struggling with gambling addiction are at greater risk for suicide – one study found that gamblers are six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or attempts. The stress of living with a gambling disorder often manifests in physical ailments as well, such as digestive issues and migraines.
If you or someone you love has a problem with gambling, seeking professional help from an addiction specialist is a necessity. Speaking with someone who understands the science of addiction and can help address and treat the root causes of dependency will lead to the best possible outcomes for recovery. . .
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand offers residential treatment that specialises in behavioural addictions such as gambling. With a maximum intake of 25 clients at a time, our highly experienced professional team offers personalised attention and customised treatment plans for each and every client.
The fundamental objective of our programme is for clients to achieve and maintain long-term recovery by equipping each individual with a personalised set of coping tools to use when dealing with stress and triggers. The Dawn utilises a unique “Twin Pillars” approach for treatment, seamlessly blending Western psychotherapeutic techniques with proven Eastern wellness practices to holistically address the addiction, and allow the development of a full, healthy lifestyle.
Gambling Addiction Treatment On-site or Online with The Dawn
We understand that current COVID-19 related travel restrictions may make it difficult for you to access the benefits of a residential treatment programme at this time. At The Dawn, our therapists have years of experience providing online therapy to our clients post treatment in online aftercare groups as well as individual counselling.
To support individuals in need of help but unable to travel, we have been offering a special Virtual Treatment Programme with the option of transitioning to in-person residential treatment when clients are ready.
To best accommodate our clients, we structure our fees so that whatever you have already paid towards your online therapy goes towards your overall residential treatment fee. This allows you to continue your care with a trusted therapist in an environment totally removed from the triggers and stress of everyday life, and to focus completely on your recovery.
With the holiday season fast approaching and still living in uncertain times, it is more vital now then ever to have a Relapse Prevention plan ready. This is why I am very honored to have a Special Recovery Guestand dear friend of mine who has also been my close friend for several years and we have been through “thick and thin” together. He has become like a brother I never had.
He is not only a talented in-depth addiction and recovery writer, fellow author, and loud advocate, but he has been a mentor and one of my #1 supporters of my recovery from addicted gambling.
Yes, I am talking about Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Ph.D…
I invited him as my special guest to help us with Gambling Awareness and some Expert Advice for this unusual holiday season. He has done so and all about Relapse Prevention!
Now, Kevin is in the process of revamping his website! I will invite you all to NOT hesitate by visiting his Amazon Author Bio Page and grab many of his best-selling award-winning books! Kevin has helped many from addiction and stopped the suffering for addicts and helped many families heal together. There are many to choose from when it is time to gain life and no longer a path of darkness.
All of Kevin’s books can assist and will enhance to uplift you in your recovery journey, help parents help an addict, and gives the skills and tools within each book that work. So I present this helpful and educational article that Kevin was kind enough to write and share with us today. I am sure it will give hope to those who may feel there is no HOPE… Recovery is always possible!
~Catherine Lyon, Author, and Advocate.
Relapse Prevention is Key to Long-Term Recovery from Gambling (Ludomania)
Problem gambling, or ludomania, is an urge to continuously gamble despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling often is defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behavior. Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria.
Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs. “Pathological gambling” is the most severe form of problem gambling and has been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a disease since 1980. Gaming or gambling is supposed to be for fun, for entertainment.
Teenagers are 3 to 4 times more likely to become problem gamblers than adults. 90% of High School students have gambled at least once in the last year. In the USA ages 14-21, 2.1% struggle with Problem Gambling, another 6.5% are at risk. Every year, 2% -3%, 2M U.S. adults are estimated to meet the criteria for disordered gambling and another 4-6M individual are problem gamblers at risk for serious addiction consequences. Men make up 2/3 majority of Problem Gamblers.
Relapse ‘s definition, to fall or slip back into a former state or practice. Relapse certainly can happen to those who are in recovery from substance abuse and (Problem Gambling) process addictions; however, it should not be expected, only a possibility. Many individuals recover without ever knowing the first physical relapse in their entire lifetime of sobriety. Most have emotional and mental relapses at certain times, and some do have physical relapses as well.
There are three different types of relapse: Emotional Relapse Mental Relapse Physical Relapse
Remember that relapse is a process, Behavior Changes: Hanging around slippery people, places, and things. Arguing and acting out. No serenity, not demonstrating spirituality. Attitude Changes: Different priorities, meetings, and recovery not as important as they were. Changes in Feelings or Moods: Resentments, anger, boredom, not satisfied with anything, not grateful. Changes in Thoughts: Thinking that you may be able to use safely now. Not living a life of balance and not taking care of self can all lead to relapse.
“Don’t stay too long in the shame-filled grounds of relapse. Fertile soil awaits your return and your recovering.” – Holli Kenley
Major changes in the structure of life, such as divorce, losing a job, moving, having a child, death, a serious injury, a relationship change, things that are a major structural change or life events can lead to relapse.
When faced with tough times five tips that can help anyone avoid relapse are as follows:
1. Continue to work your program of recovery. The vehicle that promotes change. Draw close to whatever program or modality that got you sober in the first place. Call other sober friends in your support network and be honest about what is going on in your life. Don’t be afraid to pick up the 500lb. phone!
2. Utilize anger management skills. Dealing with problems right when they arise. Resentments are the number one offender; we can’t afford them. Don’t let the sun go down on a problem. Use anger management and problem-solving skills to work things out without letting emotions get the best of you. You don’t always have to be right, don’t always have to be in control, and don’t have to be perfect.
3. Beware of self-centeredness. Work on your spirituality. Don’t be selfish! Those who fail to grow spiritually will relapse. The one thing that we must do is maintain our spiritual conditions; that means we must continue to grow spiritually; we must go where we are spiritually fed.
4. Stay in the day and don’t project! ‘One day at a time is great wisdom’! All we should worry about is today, tomorrow will take care of itself, so don’t worry. There is a God, and you’re not it!
5. Stay grateful! We must maintain an attitude of gratitude, if we forget all of the gifts that we have been freely given in recovery, then we are headed for trouble! If we forget the bottom or event or circumstance that led us into a life of sobriety then we are also in trouble, we must as they say, “Keep it green!” I have never seen a grateful person relapse!
These Tips Will Help Anyone Who Walks in the Sunlight of the Spirit Stay There...
If you walk in the shadows and dark places, then surely that’s where your heart will end up. The only way to have real long-term, lasting, quality sobriety is to continue to grow in recovery, and that means maintaining our spirituality on a daily basis, continuing to be spiritually fed daily growing in experience and wisdom and helping others. You can’t live on yesterday’s manna!
Stress and anxiety have always been triggers for substance abusers and regular people to learn hope to cope with on a daily basis. Drugs and alcohol had been “the solution” for them in the past; now they must disengage from such behaviors and find genuine coping mechanisms that last. Gambling abusers also need to be offered alternative ways to find a solution through a twelve-step approach, non-twelve-step approach, harm reduction, medication management, holistic programs, faith-based programs, and other approaches. Individuals must learn healthy ways to cope with stress without the use of drugs or alcohol, utilizing these new-found tools as a solution to stress will lead to lasting sobriety. Those who don’t suffer from substance abuse will also need coping skills for life on their own terms being BET FREE.
Stress Coping Skills Key to Lasting Recovery Developing strong stress and anxiety management skills and techniques are paramount to long-term sobriety, a balanced and healthy life. These skills can help those in recovery to avoid relapse and sustain lasting recovery. Research utilizing lab animals has shown that stress can precipitate relapses with addiction to certain chemicals.
PTSD & Chronic Stress Chronic drug usage may alter brain pathways affecting the user’s response to stress; this can make them more susceptible to relapse. Those who suffer from PTSD and individuals who have been exposed to chronic stress may be more likely to relapse; this makes stress management skills all the more important.
Stress Leading to Relapse! Significant changes in jobs, relationships, moving, finances, health, and other structural changes that those in recovery are likely to deal with cause stress and anxiety. This is a normal part of life for everyone. For the substance abuser, it’s okay to try to escape from the pressure. They must be careful not to transfer addictions from drugs to gambling, sex, or some other addiction. Medical specialists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse believe that the leading reason for relapse back into substance abuse is stress.
Some Individuals Need Mental Health Help Healthy lifestyle changes are the best way to manage stress; some individuals will need to seek out help from mental health professionals as part of those changes. The Mental Health Professional will work with the Professional Coach to help the client reach their goals and solutions.
Some changes that people have found helpful:
Deep Breathing Meditation and Yoga Prayer Proper Diet Balance and Boundaries Time management Taking care of Yourself Better Identifying Stressors Talking Things Out Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Exercise Low-Stress Activities
Positive People are the Winners! In recovery and in life it is essential to connect with the right people, “stick with the winners” as they say. Those in early recovery need to be around individuals and groups that they can learn solutions from, recovery role models so to speak.
It’s also important for those in early recovery to find an attitude of gratitude; it’s easy to become angry and negative from the very beginning. Gratitude raises balance, awareness, and the spirit in a way that the person will begin to see things about life in a new way, like seeing life with a new pair of glasses!
Talking with Others Learning to tell on yourself in early recovery is one of the hardest but most beneficial skills. Talk things out with other sober people, give them a piece of your burden and suddenly your burden becomes light. Running, walking, lifting weights, writing poetry, journaling, drawing, being creative, move a muscle change and thought is a great way to get out of your head when stressed. My journal below can help!
Avoid Relapse by Journaling to Coping with Stress All people need to learn to cope with stress in recovery; it’s essential to avoid relapse and maintain sanity and balance. Utilizing just a few of the tools and techniques can work for anyone if they want them to work. Sometimes just a deep breath works!
Professional Coaches Have the Goods! Professional coaches have skill sets, tools, and core competencies that they utilize to help their clients change their lives for the better. They utilize specific action planning, powerful questioning, active listening, and many other skills and techniques to get the results needed to move forward toward the solution needed to achieve the client’s goals. Stress and anxiety aren’t good for anyone no matter their walk-in life.
Triggers that Can Jeopardize Your Sobriety When most people hear the word trigger, they think of the noun or the trigger of a gun; the verb trigger means to cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist. People who suffer from substance abuse and process addictions usually have triggers in their lives that are unique to their circumstances, past traumas, events, memories, losses, shame, guilt, anger, anxiety, etc.
A recovering person’s triggers are set in motion through one or more of the five senses: smell, sound, touch, sight, and taste. Make no mistake about it; although we are talking about the verb, triggers can be as dangerous as the trigger on a gun!
Triggers of the Emotional Variety Triggers can jeopardize your sobriety if they are not recognized and dealt with in early recovery. What triggers a relapse? Certainly, the reasons for relapse can be different for individuals; however, there are some commonalities such as fear, anxiety, stress, and depression. There are several other emotions that can also lead to relapse.
Triggers from People, Places, and Things Certain people, places, and things can trigger a relapse if they remind the person of their addiction. In some cases, all three of these may have to be removed from the individual’s life if they expose the person to a significant risk of relapse.
An example of a place, an alcoholic would not want to go to dinner in a bar that they drank at every day, where their old drinking buddies would be, and their favorite chair. In that case, all three areas of triggers would be involved.
Relapse is an Opportunity Not an Expectation There are triggers that can jeopardize your sobriety; however, with a little instruction, the whole situation can be turned into a positive. In early recovery, the person should be made aware of what triggers are and have help to identify their patterns of addiction and relapse…
Relapse is an opportunity to learn what a person’s triggers are so that they can be identified by the substance abuser and prevent the next relapse. Some say that relapse is an expected part of recovery, that’s a mistake! Relapse is always a possibility in recovery; however, it shouldn’t be expected, when we teach people that, we set them up to fail.
Balance is Key Balance is a key part of the recovery process, learning what we can do and cannot do and live in sobriety. Education, awareness, and prevention will assist the newcomers in recovery to understand the process of what genuine recovery means, avoiding all of the pitfalls that triggers may lead to on a daily basis by recognizing them and not allowing them to have power in your life of recovery.
Yes, triggers can jeopardize your sobriety, the good news is through education and awareness, you can prevent triggers from ever having power in your life. By taking the time to identify triggers and understand them, you can avoid situations that may have led you to relapse because of triggers in the past. You have empowered yourself and taken the power away from the triggers, great job!
Recovery is a lifelong process. We all make mistakes along the way, that’s alright, as long as we learn from them.
Pathological Gambling is a terrible disease that is becoming more and more of a problem in the United States. More teens are gambling than ever before in our history, more older Americans are becoming problem gamblers as well.
Don’t gamble your life away, bet on you, your family, and God!
Rev. Dr. Kevin T. Coughlin Provincial Superintendent, Ph.D., DCC, DDVA, DLC, DD, NCIP, NCAMP, IMAC, International- Best-Selling Author and Award-Winning Poet has dedicated his life to helping others. Through Education, Awareness, and Prevention Rev. Coughlin has helped thousands of individuals who were afflicted with the disease of addiction, their families, and loved ones.
He has trained hundreds of professionals in the addiction recovery industry and in the professional coaching arena. He has decades of life experience, education, work-related experience; however, perhaps the most valuable information that Rev. Dr. Coughlin possesses that sits atop of his incredible resume is wisdom.
Reverend Dr. Coughlin is the Founder of The Professional’s International Institute of Higher Learning Online and Phase Two Christian Coaching, LLC. He was a Founder and Board Member of New Beginning Ministry, Inc., a non-profit, twelve-step residential addiction recovery program for adults, he served for two decades. Rev. Coughlin has helped thousands of individuals and their families to change their lives over the past twenty-plus years.
He is an Addiction Expert, Award-Winning Poet, an International-Best-Selling author, his books, journals, and manuals are used in the United States and other Countries by professionals, individuals, and facilities. With over 44+ published works, the author resides in PA.
Bet Free Recovery Now by advocate, Catherine Lyon is helping raise awareness with the fine folks of The Floridia Council on Compulsive Gambling, Mental Health, and The National Week of Suicide Prevention. Here’s more from our advocacy friends!
Protecting our mental health should be a priority in our daily lives; September 6-12, 2020, is National Suicide Prevention Week. More than ever, we are taking steps to prevent suicide and effects that may come from gambling addiction. No one has escaped from the changes that this pandemic has brought on the world.
Even though COVID has physically affected lives, many have taken an impact financially and mentally. Situations such as job loss, lockdown orders, new school structures, and travel restrictions all affect mental health. Many may not know that all of these changes have caused changes in gambling habits, some for the worse.
A common misconception about gambling addiction is that those who suffer from this condition just “have a problem weighing their odds.” However, gambling addiction affects the brain much in the same way as drugs, leaving those who suffer unable to control their urges to bet. Because this condition has no obvious physical symptoms, it often goes undetected by even those closest to the gambler, and so do the difficulties that may come with it, including suicidal ideation.
During May of this year, 13% of those reaching out to 888-ADMIT-IT for help with a gambling problem revealed current or recent suicidal feelings and thoughts due to their gambling problem . These results leave us to understand how the pandemic and past events have impacted people negatively, and how this is reflected in gambling behaviors. In July, a 20-year old male committed suicide due to a negative day trading balance on the popular app Robinhood . However, this isn’t the only instance; another teen in India this August took the same route as a result of losing all of his savings through online gambling .
While we mourn these tragic events, we know that we can continue to make a difference in prevention. Your gambling habits may be an indicator of your mental health. Many individuals who struggle with disordered gambling experience mental health and domestic challenges such as anxiety, depression, and family neglect . As a result of these difficulties, these individuals seek gambling to “escape” the negative emotions and difficult situations.
Our goal is always to inspire hope and create a path towards recovery and a better life on the other side of problem gambling. While many people gamble for various reasons, we remain steadfast in providing help through our Peer Connect Program, amongst other resources we provide for those who contact our confidential 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine. If you feel that you or your loved one are at risk of gambling addiction, contact our HelpLine. The first step is just a call away.
The FCCG’s 24-hour confidential and multilingual HelpLine may be reached by calling 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848), texting (321) 978-0555, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, initiating a live chat at gamblinghelp.org, or by reaching out to us on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine Report: January-May 2020., 2020 ed., The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc., 2020, 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine Report: January-May 2020
 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report., 2019 ed., The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, Inc., 2019, 24-Hour Problem Gambling HelpLine Annual Report
Editor Note: It is more important than ever to raise awareness and prevention about gambling and suicide. Now, one in five problem gamblers will try suicide. My hope in sharing this article and raising awarness along with my friends of The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling,it will help educate and inform the public of how gambling can become very addictive for those who are not normal gamblers.
There is Help and Hope from this cunning addiction.
If you or someone has a gambling problem and live in Floridia? Please the number provided for The FCCG today. For those not in Floridia, you can to get help from The National Council on Problem Gambling or visit their website: https://www.ncpgambling.org/ or call 1-800-522-4700
It’s problem and addicted gamblingon an intimate level and how this progressive disease is baffling and the building into a full-blown addiction. How it becomes a slow shift from being a once-in-a-while gambler to obsessive out-of-control addict! And how it got me years ago when having lots of time on my hands. While my husband was working out of town a lot. Being bored after work not wanting to go home to an empty house. It then became my only fun and excitement in life at that time back in late 1996. As it really ramped up all of 1997 and beyond.
It then progressed from there and my life wouldn’t be the same as it got “UGLY” for many years. All that can be read within my first book. That was the purpose of having my journals printed in book form and became a memoir titled; “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and Cheat.” It isn’t how to recovery from this addiction, it is the WHY and HOW of being a gambling addict.
After two times through a county health gambling treatment program, two failed suicide attempts, living with undiagnosed mental health disorders for years, finally properly diagnosed and finally on the road maintaining recovery is when I learned some of the “ROOTS” and underlying issues to my addiction. Toward the end and about 7 months before treatment, lead me to abuse alcohol because addicted gambling alone was becoming, “Not Enough.”
Being informed, educated, and knowledgable about this illness was, for me, important since I now advocate about this disease that cost me way more than money wasted. I tell my sponsees it almost took my life, twice. Now does that sound like gambling is just all about FUN, Games, and Entertainment? Not to those who become addicted.
So, courtesy of Wikipedia and “Gamblers Anonymous Site” — and in order for those to understand this disease who have NO experienced it or have not been “touched” by any addiction? I ask…
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is when the body or mind badly wants or needs something in order to work right. (Cravings, Urges, and Triggers)…When you suffer addiction to something it is called beingaddicted or being an addict. People can be addicted to drugs, gambling, smoking, alcohol, coffee, , porn, and many other things.
When somebody is addicted to something, they can become sick if they do not get the thing they are addicted to. But taking more of the thing they are addicted to can also hurt their health. Some people who are addicts need to go to a doctor, hospital, or treatment to cure the addiction, so they no longer crave (want or need) …
What Is Problem Gambling or Addicted Gambling?
Problem gambling is an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling is often defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behavior.
Severe problem gambling may be diagnosed as clinical pathological gambling if the gambler meets certain criteria. Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs.
A DSM-5 has re-classified the condition as an addictive disorder, with sufferers exhibiting many similarities to those who have substance addictions. The term gambling addiction has long been used in the recovery movement. Pathological gambling was long considered by the American Psychiatric Association to be an impulse control disorder rather than an addiction.
However, data suggest a closer relationship between pathological gambling and substance use disorders than exists between PG and obsessive-compulsive disorder, largely because the behaviors in problem gambling and most primary substance use disorders (i.e. those not resulting from a desire to “self-medication” for another condition such as depression) seek to activate the brain’s reward mechanisms while the behaviors characterizing obsessive-compulsive disorder are prompted by overactive and misplaced signals from the brain’s fear mechanisms.
Problem gambling is an addictive behavior with a high comorbidity with alcohol problems. A common feature shared by people who suffer from gambling addiction is impulsivity. (Mine so happened to be for Escaping or Coping with old childhood trauma).
Signs and symptoms
In order to be diagnosed, an individual must have at least four of the following symptoms in a 12-month period:
Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement ….
Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling ….
Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling …..
Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble) ……
Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed) …..
After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses) …..
Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling ……
Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, education or career opportunity because of gambling …….
Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling
I experienced all of the above from my gambling addiction and continued to get even MORE SEVERE! Did I use household money to gamble? YES. Did I gamble my paycheck in a few hours? YES. Did I steal and lie to get money to gamble? YES… AND MORE. It is a cunning sick addiction and disease.
THEN CAME? Suicide attempts!
…….. Suicide Rates
The gambler who does not receive treatment for pathological gambling when in his or her desperation phase may contemplate SUICIDE. Problem gambling is often associated with increased Suicidal Ideation and attempts compared to the general population. 1 in 5 will try suicide. Early-onset of problem gambling increases the lifetime risk of suicide. However, gambling-related suicide attempts are usually made by older people with problem gambling.
A 2010 Australian hospital study found that 17% of suicidal patients admitted to the Alfred Hospital’s emergency department were problem gamblers. In the United States, a report by the National Council on Problem Gambling showed approximately one in five pathological gamblers attempt suicide.
The council also said that suicide rates among pathological gamblers were higher than any other addictive disorder. 2.6% of people living in the United States are now problem gamblers. According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, evidence indicates that pathological gambling is an addiction similar to chemical addiction.
Studies have compared pathological gamblers to substance addicts, concluding that addicted gamblers display more physical symptoms during withdrawal. A myth needing known. Addicted gamblers DO go through a Detox and Withdrawal period. Deficiencies in serotonin might also contribute to compulsive behavior, including a gambling addiction.
Lastly, the Pathological Part of this ADDICTION:
Several psychological mechanisms are thought to be implicated in the development and maintenance of problem gambling.
First, reward processing seems to be less sensitive to problem gamblers. Second, some individuals use problem gambling as an escape from the problems in their lives.
Third, personality factors play a role, such as narcissism, risk-seeking, sensation-seeking, and impulsivity.
Fourth, problem gamblers suffer from a number of cognitive biases, including the illusion of control, unrealistic optimism, overconfidence and the gambler’s fallacy, which is (the incorrect belief that a series of random events tends to self-correct so that the absolute frequencies of each of various outcomes balance each other out).
Fifth, problem gamblers represent a chronic state of a behavioral spin process, a gambling spin, as described by the criminal spin theory…
…… What happens when you first walk into a CASINO? How do you feel? Like your special? Have feelings of excitement? Like you may WIN BIG?
Well, that was exactly how I felt! And how many people who have had a problem with gambling, felt too! Now, I am not saying that if you gamble normally that you’ll become a problem or an addicted gambler. What I am trying to say and share is that for those who do have a problem? There is nothing NORMAL about it as many of the exciting feelings become the staple of ‘HOW WE FEEL’ each time we gamble. AND? It goes way beyond those “Feeling of being SPECIAL”…
We actually get a euphoric high and rush when we walk into any gambling venue …And never matters if we WIN or LOSE, these feelings along with cravings, triggers, and urges compound the more we are in “action!” Be it at cards, slots, or even dice? The preference really doesn’t matter.
It is the act, being in action and being active within gambling that keeps us stuck in a habitual “CYCLE.”
With so much STIGMA around this Silent Problem, a problem many suffer in silence from addicted gambling, I wanted to share most of an article by the team at “Recovery Village Center” to help us with some of the real facts are from the MYTHS about problem gambling. Always know they are ready to HELP and share HOPE from this cunning addiction as The Fine Folks of Recovery Village are always available.
Just visit their website or Call THEM AT 1-888-559-6554 …~ Advocate, Catherine Lyon
“Gambling addiction is a serious and devastating problem for many people. Understanding this serious behavioral addiction requires replacing the myths with the facts.”
…… Gambling addiction, or compulsive gambling, is a behavioral addiction (process addiction) characterized by a pathological obsession and compulsion to gamble. The addiction to gambling becomes increasingly problematic, causing financial, family, social and job problems, but the gambler continues and is unable to control or stop gambling, despite the negative consequences.
Compulsive gamblers are secretive and tend to be socially isolated, so there are many misconceptions and myths about this addiction. To have a proper understanding of this devastating disorder, it is necessary to separate the myths from the facts.
Myth 1: Gambling Isn’t Addictive
Fact: Gambling is designed to be addictive.
Gambling operates on a principle of psychology that is known to be highly addictive and compulsion-inducing. This principle is based on variable ratios of reinforcement (i.e., winning), and random ratios of reinforcement, together known as a variable-ratio reinforcement schedule (VRRS). Finding the most addictive form of a VRRS is a matter of considerable research. Most gambling machines are programmed to dole out wins on a precise schedule that is based on the most addictive form of a VRRS.
Myth 2: Gambling Is a Way to Make Money
Fact: The house always wins, especially when it comes to compulsive gamblers. Money Never Comes For FREE
When driving past a casino it is easy to admire the lavish building. However, it is also easy to forget that the money to build that casino probably came from the losses of the people who gamble there.
One of the characteristics of compulsive pathological gambling is the persistent belief that the next bet will pay, despite repeatedly losing past the next bets. As such, the delusional belief that a stroke of luck is only a wager away is part of the pathological psychology of gambling addiction. The belief that gambling will pay off despite having lost considerable amounts of money is a driving factor of compulsive gambling.
Myth 3: If You Keep Playing, You Will Eventually Win Your Money Back
Fact: The longer someone remains actively gambling addiction, the greater the losses.
The irrational belief that the gambler will eventually hit it big and come out ahead is a significant driver of gambling addiction. To people who don’t have a gambling addiction, it is usually clear when enough is enough and they can walk away from their losses and get on with life. However, compulsive gamblers cannot do that; they keep coming back, driven by irrational beliefs of the big win.
However, gambling addiction is about much more than simply whether or not the person will win or lose. People who have a gambling addiction get a rush from gambling or a high, and this high is how they cope with negative feelings and life’s stressors. When they are gambling, the high they get from it makes them happy for a little while and distracts them from all their problems. It is known that pathological gamblers get this high whether they are winning or losing. The act of gambling is all they need.
Myth 4: If You Can Afford It, Compulsive Gambling Isn’t Really a Problem
Fact: Compulsive gambling is a symptom of underlying emotional and coping problems.
Financial loss is only one of many negative consequences of compulsive gambling. People who struggle with gambling addiction often end up having serious problems in their relationships and at their jobs, and may neglect life’s obligations.
Pathological gambling is a progressive condition that tends to become increasingly consuming as time goes by. This fact is especially true in times of stress or low mood, as gambling becomes a way of coping. Eventually, almost all pathological gamblers suffer life-changing financial loss unless they get help in time.
Myth 5: Compulsive Gamblers Play Every Day
Fact: Gambling addiction can be continuous or episodic.
Many compulsive gamblers have dry periods without any betting. However, gambling addiction is chronic and progressive, so for many pathological gamblers, it eventually becomes a daily activity unless they seek and accept help.
An obsessive-compulsive preoccupation with gambling characterizes pathological gambling. Over time, these obsessive thoughts about betting become increasingly more invasive and anxiety-provoking. The only way to relieve that anxiety is by gambling, which is the compulsion that is coupled with the obsession.
Similar to people who struggle with drug addiction, pathological gamblers experience tolerance, meaning that they require increasing amounts of the activity to satisfy their obsession and to get the same high. They also experience increasing amounts of withdrawal, which is the low mood and irritability they feel when they are not gambling. As these effects worsen, gambling usually increases as a result, and the addiction progresses.
Myth 6: Knowing a Game Well Increases Your Odds of Winning
Fact: Gambling games are designed to not have any aspect that will increase the odds of winning purely out of knowledge or skill.
Gambling games become absorbing for gamblers. Psychologists refer to “dark flow” as the state where the player becomes so immersed in a game that everything outside of it becomes irrelevant. This “dark flow” state is highly associated with addiction to the game and is designed to occur as people get to know a game by playing the same game for an extended period.
All gambling games are heavily favored for the house, which is why casino owners become so wealthy and the gamblers do not. If a game was not heavily in favor of the house, it would never become popular, because no casino, lottery or gambling website would want it. Whether or not someone knows a game well doesn’t change that fact.
Myth 7: There Are “Hot” and “Cold” Slot Machines
Fact: Slot machines are programmed to promote problematic play and win for the house.
Slot machines are a particularly dangerous form of gambling because they are programmed with the most addictive form of VRRS schedule. Additionally, they are programmed to operate on a principle known as loss disguised as a win (LDW). This effect happens when a player is given a “win” of credits with a spin, but fewer credits than the original wager. The psychological effect is that these frequent wins keep the player engaged, despite a net loss.
Both the single-line slots (the traditional slots) and the more modern multi-line slots are programmed to give LDW “wins” in a specific payback percentage, but it is always less than 100% and certainly not above 100%, meaning that the house always wins. There are no “hot” slot machines, only “cold” ones.
Myth 8: Gambling Is Only a Financial Problem
Fact: Gambling addiction causes problems that extend well beyond financial losses.
As their tolerance and withdrawal effects intensify, people who struggle with gambling addiction spend more and more time in their gambling activities, and in seeking money to support their addiction.
Normal activities and responsibilities become neglected because of the amount of time required to satisfy the addiction. They begin missing work and are frequently absent from home. Even sleep becomes affected as they pull “all-nighters” gambling.
This time commitment can have effects beyond financial loss, such as:
Career-related consequences: being written up at work or losing a job
Relationship stress: financial stress, job loss, and frequent absence are not conducive to healthy relationships, and can devastate families
Social isolation: friends and family are tired of being asked for loans and maybe pushed away as the gambler becomes increasingly secretive
Arrest and criminal charges: for illegal activities used to finance gambling
Physical health problems: lack of sleep or self-care
Fact: Gamblers who seek and accept help can recover before they have to resort to criminal activity to finance their gambling.
If pathological gamblers continue with the addiction long enough, frequently the result is criminal behavior to finance the gambling habit. The most common gambling-related crimes are non-violent, financially motivated offenses:
Typically, they will rationalize their crime as borrowing money. For example, if the person forges a check, takes money from the workplace or steals from a neighbor, they might rationalize the act by convincing themselves that they will return the money, usually after a big win at the casino.
However, not all crimes that compulsive gamblers are engaged in are financially motivated and non-violent. The three risky behaviors of substance abuse, gambling, and crime are known to be closely associated and often co-occur.
……. Through all the hard work of advocacy and supporting the team and director, Les Bernal and others involved with “The Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation.” ….
We finally have WINand movement toward slowing down the online sports betting venue of Fantasy Football and FanDuel! So much has come from the team of Les’s within Washington D.C. of hitting legislation hard to change the way they illegally advertise, offer, and prey on those who have gambling problems. So much so that ‘The New York Times’ has done an amazing article all about it. …..
I’ll leave that to Les Bernal to share the news with this announcement I got by Email Today and Share The Story from The NY Times…
Victims of state government’s commercialized gambling scheme experienced a major legal win yesterday in NY. Here is The New York Times coverage of the court decision declaring so-called “daily fantasy sports” (DFS) for what it really is: commercialized gambling.
The New York State Constitution puts the power to expand gambling into the hands of the people, requiring a statewide vote. The NY Legislature, in partnership with powerful financial interests who stood to benefit from this latest form of commercialized gambling, tried to avoid this constitutional requirement when it pushed through a bill adding DFS to its existing wealth-extraction arsenal of lottery scratch tickets, electronic Quick Draw (i.e. Keno), regional casinos, and slot machine parlors.
This victory is a direct result of the hard work and talent of Attorney Neil Murray. Despite the heavy demands of his practice, Neil has sacrificed an enormous amount of his time over the last twenty years to act against the injustice, poverty, and life-changing harm caused by commercialized gambling, especially in his home state of NY. This remarkable effort is his most recent achievement.
The lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law was coordinated by Stop Predatory Gambling. It was filed on behalf of four plaintiffs who had suffered personal or family harm from gambling debts resulting from commercialized gambling promoted by the state.
Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation
100 Maryland Avenue NE, Room 310 | Washington, District of Columbia 20002
(202) 567-6996 | email@example.com
Fantasy Sports Contests Are Illegal Gambling, New York Appeals Court Rules
The court found that the law was unconstitutional, dealing a setback to sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings. By Michael Levenson
A New York State appeals court on Thursday struck downmost of a law that authorized fantasy sports in the state, dealing a setback to companies like FanDuel and DraftKings in one of their most lucrative markets.
The law, signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in August 2016, declared that fantasy sports did not constitute gambling and provided for consumer safeguards, minimum standards and the registration, regulation, and taxation of daily fantasy sports providers.
In October of that year, the law was challenged by four New York residents who said they had been harmed by gambling, including one woman, Jennifer White, whose father regularly patronized off-track betting facilities in Western New York while her mother was besieged by loan sharks and creditors.
Their lawsuit argued that the law carved out an illegal exemption to the State Constitution’s prohibition on gambling, which forbids the practice except for a few exceptions, including at a limited number of horse tracks and casinos.
Legalizing daily fantasy sports, the lawsuit argued, would require a constitutional amendment approved by New York State voters, not a simple statutory change signed by the governor.
In 2018, Acting Justice Gerald W. Connolly of Albany County Supreme Court agreed with part of the lawsuit, holding that the law, to the extent that it authorized daily fantasy sports, violated the Constitution’s ban on gambling. At the same time, the court found that the Legislature had acted properly when it exempted daily fantasy sports from the penal code.
“On Thursday, the New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division delivered a stronger ruling for the law’s opponents, finding both that the law was unconstitutional and that daily fantasy sports could not be exempted from the penal code.”
The ruling was based on the court’s finding that, while daily fantasy sports require skill, they also involve a degree of chance — such as whether a player might have an injury or illness or be affected by bad weather or poor officiating.
Cornelius D. Murray, who represents the four New Yorkers who brought the lawsuit, said he was pleased with the decision.
“As of today,” he said, “the legislation purporting to legalize daily fantasy sports is unconstitutional, so the penal law prohibiting it remains on the books.”
The office of the state attorney general, Letitia James, said it was reviewing the ruling and had no further comment. The governor’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
FanDuel said in a statement, “We expect that there will be an appeal and we’ll be able to continue to offer contests while that appeal is decided.”
…… DraftKings also issued a statement saying that “the legislative action authorizing fantasy sports in New York was constitutional and in the best interests of taxpayers and fantasy sports fans.” ……
Robert S. Rosborough IV, a partner at Whiteman Osterman & Hanna who specializes in appellate litigation and who has followed the case, said the final determination on the law’s constitutionality was likely to be made by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Until then, he said, customers will still be able to play daily fantasy sports in New York.
“The games can continue while the state appeals, but the future is certainly in flux after this ruling,” Mr. Rosborough said.
The Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association, an industry group, estimates that 59 million people played fantasy sports in the United States and Canada in 2017 — more than double the 27 million who played in 2009. Two out of three were men, their average age was 32, and each user spent an average of $653 annually on the sites.
DraftKings and FanDuel, which operate in 43 states, including New York, together accounted for almost all of the $390 million in revenue generated by daily fantasy sports in 2019, according to Chris Krafcik, a managing director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a research and consulting firm.
New York, with its large, sports-crazed and relatively wealthy population, is easily one of the three largest daily fantasy sports markets in the United States, alongside California and Texas, Mr. Krafcik said.