Problem Gambling Treatment

Have you tried to cut down on your use?

Have you been annoyed when people talked to you about your use?

Have you felt bad or guilty about your use?

Have you ever used in the morning to settle yourself down?

One yes answer suggests a problem. Two yes answers is diagnostic.

Information

Problem gambling resources

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

National Institute on Drug Abuse

National Statistics on Teenage Alcohol and Drug Use

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information

National Directory of Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Treatment and Prevention Programs Facility Locator

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

Cocaine Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous

Gambling Information

Smart Recovery

Sober Recovery Links

Faith-Based Addiction Curriculum

Christians in Recovery

Faces and Voices of Recovery

Counselor.Org

Love First: A New Approach to Intervention for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

Find an AA meeting close to you

Online AA meetings

Safe Driving Program

Take the first step in recovery

Thriving Recovery DVD's about how joy restores your brain and heals trauma

Acupuncture for alcohol and other addictions

DrugAlert.org

Drug Information

National Association of Alcohol and Drug Counselors

National Institute on Drug Abuse

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

National Library of Medicine

Problem gambling where there is life there is hope

Problem Gambling Treatment

Gamblers lie to themselves when they think they can beat a game of chance. Chance means you cannot manipulate the outcome of a game. Gamblers constantly think they can figure a game out, which machine will win, which numbers will come up, which horse will win, which card they will draw or which number will come up in roulette or bingo. The actual odds are this: The house gets 6% of every dollar you bet, so if you continue to gamble you will lose every penny you have. Gambling establishments are not fancy because of the winners; they are fancy because they can predict that the odds are always in their favor. The casino will always win. All of the games are stacked in their favor and there is no way you can predict a game of chance. Each time you play each game the odds are exactly the same. There is no way to predict which horse, number, color or machine will win. The odds are exactly the same each time you play. Gamblers constantly think they can figure a game out and increase the odds of winning, but this is never true. Memorize this sentence and say it over and over to yourself: “If I continue to gamble there is a 100% chance that I will lose everything.”

Problem Gambling Treatment Video

A video lottery machine has a random number generator that randomly generates the next numbers. Let us say the odds on one machine are 4000 to one big win. So imagine that you have 4000 white marbles in a bin and one red marble. You spin the bin and draw out one marble. The odd of choosing the red marble are 4000 to one. Now you put the marble back in the bin, spin the bin and draw out a marble. The odds are exactly the same 4000 to one. All gambling is a game of chance and there is no way to predict when the machine, game or player is going to change the odds. In the marble game, there will always be a 4000 to one chance that you will win. The real odds are, if you continue to gamble you will be penniless. A casino only offers games of chance never games of skill. The house would not let you play a game of skill because you could learn the skill and increase your odds of winning. The house never makes this mistake. The odds are always in favor of the casino. If you continue to gamble the casino will always win. If you continue to gamble you will always lose everything.

Here is a list of ten statements you may have said to yourself that gave you the illusion that you could figure out a game of chance.

1. This machine has not paid out all day, it is ready to pay. No the odds are always the same.

2. This horse always wins on a muddy track. No, the odds of one horse wining are always the same.

3. This blackjack dealer is unlucky; this is the table to play. I would win here. No, with every deal the odds are always the same.

4. If I keep playing this color it has to win soon. No, the odds are always random.

5. This roulette dealer spins too fast, the ball runs too fast and this makes it more likely that the ball will fall on number 22. No, the odds are random and always the same. If you continue to gamble you will be penniless.

6. If I keep count of the numbers I can figure this game out and increase my odds of winning. No, games of chance are not games of skill. The odds are the same every time you play the game.

7. I always use this machine. It pays out the best. No, a machine has a random number generator and each time you play you have the same odds of winning.

8. If I keep playing the numbers of my birthday, I will win every time. No, the odds are if you continue to gamble you will lose every cent you have.

9. If I do not want to win I win every time. No, the odds are always the same.

10. This is my lucky day. I cannot lose. No, the odds are random, you cannot predict, or use a skill to change the odds at a game of chance.

People who are problem gamblers think that they cannot tell the truth. They believe that if they do, then they will be rejected. The facts, however, are exactly the opposite. Unless you tell the truth, no one can accept you. People have to know you to accept you. If you keep secrets, then you never will feel known or loved. You are only as sick as your secrets. If you keep secrets from people, then you never will be close to them.

You cannot be a practicing gambling addict without lying to yourself. You must lie, and believe the lies, or else the illness cannot operate. All of the lies are attempts to protect you from the truth. If you had known the truth, then you would have known that you were sick and needed treatment. This would have been frightening, so you kept the truth from yourself and from others. Let us face it. When we were gambling, we were not honest with ourselves.

The Pathological Gambler

“Gamblers Anonymous (GA) has been, and is, the single most effective treatment modality for the pathological gambler” (Custer, 1984a). This point continues to be true today. The American Psychiatric Association’s Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders states, “In general, an approach which utilizes several treatment modalities, including participation in Gamblers Anonymous, appears warranted at this time” (Karasu, 1989, p. 2466).

Gamblers Anonymous is a Twelve Step program modeled after the Twelve Steps of AA. The program provides hope to recovering individuals. Many clients recover by going to GA alone, but some clients, particularly those with concomitant psychiatric disorders, need the structure of inpatient or outpatient treatment (Custer, 1984b; Karasu, 1989).

All clients with gambling issues need to be thoroughly assessed for their gambling problem and take the South Oaks Gambling Screen (Appendix 54). Gamblers tend to leave things out of their gambling history (Appendix 70), so you must be careful to collect all of the problems caused by gambling. It helps to use the financial forms (Appendix 52) to assess the amount of debt and develop a pay budget to pay back debtors.

Clients who have entered gambling treatment need to do a minimum of three things to begin recovery: (a) get honest with themselves, (b) embrace the first few steps of GA, and (c) develop a good relapse prevention program. These steps provide the foundation for recovery. The recovery skills presented in this book are client work. They educate about the disease of pathological gambling, teach the tools of recovery, and have clients apply the tools in their daily lives. Each client completes each exercise and shares his or her answers with the recovery skills group. The group decides by majority vote to accept or reject the contract based on how well the client completes the exercise. If the contract is rejected, then the client has to do it over again.

Recovery skills help a client to identify the problem, understand the problem, and learn coping skills for dealing with the problem. The types of recovery skills are infinite. You will want to develop some on your own, but there are a few exercises that you will use with nearly every client. The following recovery skills are the ones that you will use most often. If there is no pressure relief group in your local GA chapter, then you will have to help the client make a payback plan using the pressure relief group and financial forms in Appendix 52.

Honesty

The Honesty for Gamblers exercise (Appendix 35) helps clients to see how they have been distorting reality. All clients use denial, in its many forms, to keep from experiencing the pain of the truth. If they see the whole picture about themselves, they hurt. They realize that they are sick and need help. This creates tremendous fear. Clients keep from feeling this fear by minimizing, rationalizing, denying, blaming, distorting, projecting, intellectualizing, diverting, and dozens of other ways of not experiencing the truth.

Clients cannot uncover denial without getting help from others because denial tends to be unconscious. The Honesty for Gamblers exercise gets them started in this search for the truth. It is the job of the counselor and treatment center to set up an atmosphere of love and trust and then to give clients the opportunity to search for, and share, the truth with each other. The truth sets people free. Treatment is an endless search for truth.

Working through the Honesty for Gamblers exercise is an eye-opening experience for clients. They come to realize how much they have been lying to themselves and to others. They feel guilty about lying to others. However, clients usually do not realize that they have lied to themselves more than to anyone else. This comes as a startling revelation.

Clients need to process how they feel about themselves when they lie, and they need to learn the negative consequences of dishonesty. First, if they lie, then they will hurt. If they do not tell people the truth, then they will not be known or feel loved. Second, without truth, clients cannot solve problems accurately. To solve problems, you need the facts.

The Twelve Steps should be the core of treatment for pathological gambling. More individuals have recovered using the principles of GA than using any other treatment. Gamblers Anonymous works, and it is free. The only requirement for GA membership is the desire to stop gambling.

  1. Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
  2. Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  3. Did gambling affect your reputation?
  4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  5. Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  6. Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  7. After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  8. After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  9. Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
  10. Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  12. Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
  13. Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
  14. Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
  15. Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
  16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  17. Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  18. Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
  19. Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

Most compulsive gamblers will answer yes to at least seven of these questions.

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