September is National Suicide Prevention month. Gambling addiction has the highest suicide rate of all addictions and the statistics do not reflect that many of these suicides are mistakenly reported as single-car accidents, wrong-way drivers, heart attacks, cerebral stem strokes (from an overdose of anti-depressants), and so forth. This is a true story of two friends of mine, who both planned their suicides down to the last detail and thankfully, both survived. The names and details have been changed to protect their identities, but the stories and devastation are true.
Mary, a 60 year old psychologist became so depressed with her inability to stop gambling, an activity that was consuming her every moment and thought, that she had to stop seeing patients because she no longer cared about their problems. Her husband, her one true love had become ill and diagnosed with dementia, as well as complications due to a congenital heart defect and diabetes. She had her own physical limitations due to severe crippling from rheumatoid arthritis. Mary had 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren- the light of her life. All that being said, Mary still could not tear herself away from the video poker machines to get home and check on her husband. She missed many of the grandchildren’s recitals and sporting events because she had hit another jackpot. Her children stopped telling the grandchildren that she would be there because of their disappointment and sadness of being let down, over and over. Mary found herself unable to concentrate and many times after hours of gambling could not recall how she actually drove home. Read more →
Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity “doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result” is often espoused by those recovering from a Gambling Addiction. For some of us, we’ve coined the phrase “forget-itis” as much the same thing and very similar to what Bill Murray experienced in his movie “Groundhog Day” (1993) doomed to repeat his day over and over with the same results. Having spent almost twelve years in a 12-step group for gambling addiction, if I had a nickel for every time I have heard someone share their experience of doing the same thing over and over again, well, I would be rich!!
I did search the Internet for a definition or explanation for the term ‘forgetitis’ and although I was unsuccessful in that quest, I did find in Wikipedia the following: Read more →
July 22, 2013
If one were to Google “Internet Cafe”, a consortium of choices will confront you. What are these Internet Cafes and what are they really selling? Some would describe them as storefronts conducting gambling operations (unlicensed, unregulated, untaxed, and illegal.) Proprietors of these cafes describe their operation as providing a service or product; phone cards and Internet time, as well as a chance to win prizes. In fact, they compare their operation to that of a sweepstakes such as the McDonald’s Monopoly game or one of the big companies (like Home Depot, Olive Garden, K-mart) that offer customers an opportunity to win a prize if they complete an online survey (after purchasing a product). Read more →
2013 Fall International Conference
“The Whole World of Recovery”
October 18-20, 2013
Conference details and registration available at Gambers Anonymous* gamblersanonymous.org/ga/
Hotel Information available at starwoodhotels.com/sheraton/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1162
Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort
12205 S. Apopka Vineland Road
Orlando, Florida 34786
Excerpts from National Conference on Problem Gambling
“Please join us for the 27th National Conference on Problem Gambling July 19-20, 2013 in Seattle,Washington. The largest and oldest conference on problem gambling in the world, this event brings together leaders in prevention, education, treatment, responsible gaming, research, and recovery. Whether you are a seasoned professional or a newcomer to gambling issues, you will find 60 presentations – from plenaries to posters – packed with high-quality information. Based on popular demand, we’ve added to full days of intensive skill-building Pre-Conference Workshops on July 17-18.”
For more information, or to register for the NCPG conference go to
May 22, 2013
Perhaps…HOPE, HELP and ultimately enhanced UNDERSTANDING and TREATMENT
Clinicians have long-awaited the release of the DSM-5, with the resultant recategorization and change in nomenclature for Gambling Addiction, from Pathological Gambling, Gambling Addiction, Compulsive Gambling and a variety of terms used to discern the varying degrees of severity of addiction, to the newly endorsed term of “Disordered Gambling.“
For those who suffer from a gambling addiction, or “Disordered Gambling” ….the name doesn’t matter. The category doesn’t matter. What matters is..access to treatment, being cared for with dignity as one who suffers from a serious illness versus an individual of weak morals and even weaker character. Gambling addiction is a progressive illness. By the time the afflicted individual reaches out for help, financial resources are decimated, familial relations are strained and help of any kind is hard to come by. There are a few low-cost outpatient treatment services available and, in most states, residential treatment, if available at all, is cost prohibitive and not underwritten by insurance or social services. Read more →
RECOGNIZING PROBLEM GAMBLING
In recognition of National Mental Health Month, Boulder City Hospital’s Mental Health: Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) staff will participate in a one-hour introductory course to understanding and recognizing Problem Gambling.
Lanie’s Hope Founder and Advocate for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, Bea Aikens will present a one hour presentation, providing a basic explanation of what happens when gambling becomes an addiction and review screening methods and resources available to identify and treat problem gamblers and their families.
Innovator and Trail Blazer in the field of Problem Gambling, Executive Director of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, Carol O’Hare, sets the tone for this year’s conference with the Opening Keynote,
Problem Gambling in Nevada: Then, Now and in the Future
Conference Featured Presentations Include:
- Addiction and Recovery from an Atheists Perspective
- Youth Gambling Awareness in the Classroom
- Internet Use Disorder
- Understanding the Female Trajectory into Problem Gambling
- Changing the Game:Supportings Young People in Recovery
Known for innovation, this renowned conference concludes with the unique presentation Experiential Yoga and the 12 Steps.
Butler, PA continues to blaze new trails in Problem Gambling Education in Western Pennsylvania.
Friday, March 15 2013 12:30-3:30
Monarch Place, Red Chimney Hall
100 Brugh Avenue Butler, PA 16001
This Town Hall Meeting is open to the public. Clergy, Social Workers, Counselors, Attorneys, Financial Advisors and Family Support Services will find this information especially valuable, as Pennsylvanians struggle with a rise in gambling addiction.
Pennsylvania has the second highest gambling revenue in the Nation; second only to Nevada. While many people can gamble recreationally, those impacted by Problem Gambling face severe consequence. Compulsive Gambling is a serious public health issue.
Topics covered will include an overview of Butler County’s Problem Gambling Initiative, Assessment of Local and National data on compulsive gambling, an Educational Program on the Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction and access to Available Resources for those impacted by problem gambling.
Lanie’s Hope Founder Bea Aikens will conclude the presentation with a personal story of Recovery and her mission to Advocate for Social Change in Problem Gambling.
In May psychiatrists will start referring to gambling addiction as a behavioral addiction, the first disorder in that newly created category of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the textbook for psychiatry that’s widely used by doctors, courts, and insurance companies. The latest edition of the DSM—DSM-5—will be published in May.
Gambling isn’t often thought of as a health issue, that perception needs to change.
My first bet was made at age 12. Since I am now 57, I will skip early years of gambling and get to what occurred in my life that got me to the wonderful place in my life called recovery.
I always lived on the edge craving excitement. Whether it was living like an outlaw and seeing if I could get away with it or betting on a 40 to 1 long shot, I enjoyed, and later found out I needed, the rush. The reason I needed it was I had an uncontrollable and an incurable disease. It is called compulsive gambling.
Like most compulsive gamblers, I won… at first. But over the years when it got to the point that there was not enough to win, my life became completely unmanageable. Becoming a great liar and rationalizer I hid my problem from my wife. I would also try to hide from my higher power, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. I surely couldn’t hide from him! Read more →
As has been the case for many others I have spoken with, my own gambling story begins at a young age (10). Family vacations with my father would involve trips to the Ruidoso Downs race track, where I was given $20 for the day to bet on horses. Later, he would teach me how to play poker, and by the time I was a teenager I was playing occasionally, and later regularly, with a group of his colleagues. By the time I was in college, I became involved in a high-stakes pot-limit game, and won enough money over time to move out of the house and get my own apartment while I was in school. There were two men in that game that I (and others) won money from fairly consistently, and looking back I now realize that it was not just because (as I thought) they were “bad” player, but because they were compulsive (pathological) gamblers who would stay in the game until the last card on almost every hand.
When I finished my graduate degree in 1991, I received a job offer from the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas to supervise archaeological work out at the infamous Yucca Mountain Project. I was thrilled to get a job in archaeology, and was excited about the prospects of moving to Las Vegas. For many years after moving to Las Vegas I continued to play live poker. While I never considered myself a professional player, I did well enough to win a little money over the long run, and saw it as an entertaining pastime. I didn’t understand the appeal of the video poker machines…it seemed like a complete waste of time to play a machine, where you had no control over the outcome. Occasionally, I would put $20 into a machine, but never won anything substantial until I hit my first royal flush for $1,000 in the mid-1990s. It was a few years later that I hit a 2nd one, and then very soon after, a third. “Aha! This is why people play the machines!” I thought. Gradually, I played less and less live poker and more and more video poker until soon I was playing video poker almost exclusively. It didn’t seem to matter that intellectually I knew I was never going to beat a computer chip. Read more →