Compulsive Gamblers Can’t Be Anonymous
Compulsive Gamblers can’t be anonymous anymore. If people don’t know about our disease, there’s never a hope for treating it and maybe, someday, curing it.
These are the sentiments of recovering compulsive gambler and Las Vegas attorney Doug Crawford, who will forever be linked to the very public case which resulted in his 2009 suspension from the practice of law. In a January 2012 trial, Doug was the first defendant in a Clark County, NV criminal case to be sentenced in accordance with provisions of the Nevada Problem Gambling Diversionary Law The Diversionary sentencing mandates therapy and attendance at mutual aid support meetings as well as restitution for crimes committed in furtherance of the disease of gambling addiction.
I recently had the opportunity to interview Doug. He candidly shared his story …from early dependence on alcohol and drugs to a gambling addiction that lead him down a path he never imagined he would take – stealing from his clients’ trust account in furtherance of his addiction.
Doug Crawford’s Interview can be seen at youtube.com/user/lanieshope
Today Doug is grateful to be in recovery from addiction, actively participating in therapy and 12-step meetings and fully committed to making restitution to those he has harmed. His remorse for his actions is evident, and he himself finds it inexplicable that he “did the unthinkable” in violating his clients’ trust. Yet today he has come to understand that what he experienced as ” a highjacking of the brain” is a disease categorized as a Behavioral Addiction by the American Psychiatric Association
After a lifetime of addiction culminating in looming legal problems and contemplation of suicide, Doug now enjoys a life of recovery. He’s got plenty of work ahead of him as he takes the final steps toward having his law license reinstated so that he can earn a living and make restitution, yet through it all he is joyful and grateful. According to Doug, “My whole life was one of shame from the past and fear of the future. Now when I wake up in the morning I have a day without fear.”
While the American Psychiatric Association’s 2013 recognition of Gambling Disorder as a disease may seem long overdue to those impacted personally by gambling addiction, cases like Doug’s are shining a light on an addiction that has previously been viewed as a moral weakness vs. a diagnosable mental health disorder. As Lanie’s Hope continues to advocate for social change in problem gambling, we look hopefully upon such initiatives as the Nevada Problem Gambling Diversionary Law and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act as gateways to positive change in how our society deals with problem gambling.
And now the challenge is for those in recovery from a gambling addiction to speak up. We should no longer be denied treatment nor be ashamed of having a disease. But the stigma and shame runs deep. Slowly the tide is turning. Those in recovery and their family members need not be ashamed, any more than they would be if they had another diagnosable, treatable disease like diabetes or heart disease. Long considered the “silent addiction” because the afflicted don’t have a stagger in their step or slurred speech, Gambling Disorder is diagnosable and treatable, but it must be taken out of the shadows. Doug said it well…
Compulsive Gamblers can’t be anonymous anymore. If people don’t know about our disease, there’s never a hope for treating it or curing it.