Gambling Addiction Affects Family, Finances, and FreedomGambling Addiction has similarities to other addictions, but offers a unique set of challenges. The problem gambler often creates substantial amounts of debt, both legal and illegal, as the result of their addiction. Criminal charges for gamblers are not uncommon. Family members are often caught off guard and overwhelmed when the gambler and his activities are discovered. Traditionally gamblers are reluctant to receiving help, feeling they must fix the problems they created by gambling. The remedy most often tried is more risky behavior, which inevitably creates more problems. The gambler often tell lies to family members as to the extent of their problem. The success rate for treatment of problem gambling addiction is very low.
Solution Focused Addiction Treatment For Risk TakersWe have developed a Solution Focused Addiction Treatment approach. Our first course of action is to help the patient address the actual problems they are facing. We have settled credit card debit, settled casino debt, negotiated with the IRS and other entities that may be threatening legal action. We have called bookies and loan sharks to work out payment plans and debt reduction. Law enforcement agencies have also been receptive of our interventions, often resulting in reduced or dropped charges. By addressing these issues early in the treatment process, the gambler starts to believe that hope exists and becomes more willing to participate in their own recovery.
Improving The Odds of RecoveryWe also make attempts to salvage current employment by educating the employer about the debtor’s dilemma. If the gambler is unemployed, we provide aptitude assessment testing, facilitate job searches, explore educational and vocational training. These efforts are important to give the gambler hope, as well as a plausible path to begin rebuilding a life. While we are helping the individual with the consequences of their actions, we can provide counseling to them to help them see the futility of their actions, what the act of gambling was giving them and other, less destructive ways to get what they are seeking. In very broad terms gamblers have been classified as “escape” or “action” gambling, with each type responding to different avenues of treatment. Many people start in one category and then transition in to the other.
Attempts At Manipulating The Treatment Process Are CalculatedIt is very common for gamblers to try to manipulate the treatment process, we are aware of this tendency and view it as part of the process. Family members are often concerned that we will be “fooled” by their loved one, that is not the case. Lies and manipulation are a common occurrence in addiction, the gambling addict will take these tactics to the highest level. We are prepared for such attempts. Our physicians are trained in the latest pharmacological approaches to assist in recovery, we do not leave treatment to chance. Recently, there has been a link to certain classes of drugs and the gambling addiction. Abilify and drugs used to treat Restless Leg Syndrome, Mirapex, Requip and Neupro, all have been shown to cause some patients to start gambling problematically, even with no history of gambling or addiction. Our doctors and counselors are abreast of the situation and have successfully worked with this type of gambler with positive results.
Gambling Affects Mental HealthDepression and anxiety are almost always a factor in problem gamblers, in fact, the gambling addiction has the highest suicide rate of all addictions with one in five gambling addicts attempting suicide. On the surface, gambling appears to be a “minor” addiction, but the effects are far reaching and can destroy the family system.
Denial and diversion are tools the gambling addict uses to keep his addiction hidden, often convincing loved ones and family members they are overreacting, or that the family members are really the problem. Most problem gamblers are experts in manipulation, creating complex stories and lies. The Virginia Center for Addiction Medicine will work with the family and support system of the family to develop the most effective tools to bring the gambler to an acceptance of his/her problem, which is the first step in the process of recovery.