Gambling Addiction “Recognized”… and Ignored
December 5, 2013
The American Psychiatric Association “Recognized” the disease of Gambling Addiction now known as “Disordered Gambling” with the May 2013 release of the the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual – THE resource for diagnosing and treating mental health disorders.
With great anticipation, we in the field of advocating, educating and treating problem gamblers awaited the release of the Manual or the “DSM-5” in which Gambling Addiction was reclassified from an impulse control disorder to a behavioral addiction; seemingly giving greater credence to the disease nature of this mental health disorder versus the moral weaknesses the lay public sometimes interprets it to be.
It’s far too early to throw in the towel in surrender. In fact…I’d say it’s time to speak out with greater vigor, passion and singularity of purpose!
It is TIME that we as a nation recognize the devastating impact of Gambling Disorders on the individual, the family and society AND we take action to educate, serve and treat the individuals, families and communities impacted.
Today I read an article stating that the social cost of gambling addiction in Kentucky costs the residents of that state $81 MILLION dollars. Knowing Mike Stone of the Kentucky Council, and the great work he does, I investigated further to see what funding that state provides for gambling addiction-related services. The answer… exactly ZERO!!
I referred to the 2010 National Survey of Publicly Funded Problem Gambling Services (Marotta & Christensen) and found that Kentucky did not respond to this survey thus no figures were available. Digging deeper I found that the only funds available for ANY Gambling Addiction related services was a mere $75,000 representing the ENTIRE annual budget for the Kentucky State Council on Problem Gambling; and most of these funds are provided by the gaming industry with a smaller portion coming from individual members. SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS and not a single penny of that comes from the Kentucky state treasury that presently receives more than $200 MILLION per year from the approximately $2 billion wagered legally in the state each year!
I am amazed at the work Mike Stone and the Kentucky Council does! They work tirelessly educating and serving the public on problem gambling-related matters. Their state conference is one of the best in the nation. And they do it all for a total annual budget of $75,000. How can this be?
Representative Terry Mills, D-KY, is sponsoring House Bill 58 seeking $600,000 in funds from the state general fund in year one and $1.2 million in funds in year two. A total of less than $2 Million over 2 years from a state that will realize $400 MILLION in funds during that same time frame? Unbelievable! What’s even more shocking is Rep. Mills statement that, although he has tried to get this bill passed for three years, it has been turned down because “our tight money situation has kept it from becoming law.” This is not only shocking…it is outrageous and unconscionable!
I am singling out Kentucky only as an example of many such inequities in gambling treatment services and educational programing throughout the nation. In that same National Survey in which Kentucky failed to respond, the 2010 National Survey of Publicly Funded Problem Gambling Services, it is noted that nationally substance use disorder was 8 times greater than problem gambling, yet substance abuse treatment received 674 times more public funding than problem gambling! SIX HUNRED and SEVENTY FOUR TIMES more money is spent on a disorder that is only eight times more prevalent than gambling disorder.
It is BEYOND TIME for a change! Gambling is legal in 48 states. It is now legal on the internet. Gambling opportunities are as close as the nearest convenience store for most Americans. Yet treatment is often cost-prohibitive, it is not supported by healthcare in most cases, and is not even available in many states. It is TIME for a CHANGE America! No, Gambling opportunities do not “cause” gambling addiction. Yet we know a portion of the community in which gambling is available WILL develop a gambling problem, a gambling addiction or “Disordered Gambling.”
The American Psychiatric Association has identified it, thus we recognize that Gambling Disorder is REAL. Those afflicted do not represent morally corrupt or emotionally weak individuals. They suffer from a legitimate mental health disorder requiring and meriting legitimate help and services. 3 to 6% of the American public suffers from it. Families and communities are impact by the fallout of this disease. And our local, state and federal community continues to fail to serve the needs of those negatively impacted by the fallout from a legal, lucrative industry. An industry that provides $200 Million in income and ZERO funds for problem gambling services in the state of Kentucky alone! This is a national public health travesty. It is TIME that we as a nation recognize the devastating impact of Gambling Disorders on the individual, the family and society AND we take action to educate, serve and treat the individuals, families and communities impacted.