Wednesday, June 6, 2012

13 Groups work to ban internet gambling nationwide

It was only a matter of time, as there has not been much press about the Supreme Court ruling about online gambling.

"Referring to the Justice Department’s December interpretation of the law allowing in-state Internet gambling, the groups wrote that the decision 'unleashed actions by a growing number of revenue-hungry state governments to turn the Internet into the largest casino ever, and welcoming into homes a greater social cost than any government can handle. This action is undermining Congress’ clear intent when it passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006 that online gambling should be prohibited.'”

As of last count 9 states have video poker, 9 have Keno (I suspect it's more), Mega Millions in 43, Power ball in 41 and all 50 have Scratch-offs.  I think it's a tough call and using the "think of the children" argument may not be the best in this area.  The lottery funds a lot of community resources and does bring in huge revenue for the state as it hurts less than 10% of it's players.  I think a better way to go is to make the lottery systems in each state allocate funds for treatment and prevention.  We will see how this continues, but asking for states to stop gambling, when it brings in revenue is not going to work.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Website is Up!

Things have been busy a 3 day drive across the country and settling in.  My website is up and running!
Wynn Interested in Buying Online Gambling Site

From the same folks who brought you FarmVille...

Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the law in which on line gambling was banned (except for sports betting) I have been waiting to see what big company was going to come in and begin setting up shop in different states.

In walks Wynn Resorts now interested in purchasing Zynga an online gaming website (withmno financial bets currently.)  Zynga's games are available on Facebook and other social media sites....they even have phone apps to play games.   Zynga presently has about 232 million average monthly active users across 166 countries!  If Wynn (or any company) is successful in this venture there may be on line legal gambling in all states fairly soon.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Priest Embezzles $650,00 for Gambling

I try not to address what sometimes seems like weekly news article of someone embezzling money from their company due to a gambling addiction.  This article is a little different, as he's a priest and took money from the church shop.  While looking for more information, I found about 10 blogs just dedicated to embezzlement cases.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Forbes: Lottery Warps Our Minds

"However noble may be the cause toward which the revenues are directed, [lotteries] foster an indigence of soul that must be overcome if democratic liberty is to thrive. In the service of revenue, they undermine the very idea of an extended temporal horizon — without which rational action becomes wholly inconceivable."

Putting the conspiracy theory part of the article aside, it is a very interesting article.  I also have wondered with this lottery mania over the last week if as a Problem Gambling Counselor we will see an increase in clients?  When we ask the "gambling history" question are we going to hear a lot of "I dabbled here and there, but during the big $580 Million Mega Millions things changed."

Estimates are that Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is worth around $520-600 Million.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Lottery Winners Curse

Not sure if I believe in curses, but with the Mega Millions climbing to almost $600 million there has been a  lot of discussion over buying a ticket.  Most clients don't find it triggering as the VLT machines, but some do and the constant media attention isn't helping.  Then they "what you would do if you won," conversation begins...which leads me into this article regarding the guy who won the last biggest jackpot:

Jack Whittaker: This West Virginia businessman won $315 million in the Powerball lottery in 2002, the largest jackpot ever from a single ticket in American history at the time. After being robbed of $545,000 in cash while at a strip club, Whittaker's granddaughter and daughter were later found dead, and Whittaker was sued by Caesars Atlantic City casino for bouncing $1.5 million worth of checks to cover gambling losses.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Addicted to a Behavior?

The above article outlines the difficulty in treating "process addiction" including compulsive eating, sexual addiction and gambling. We find in my practice more client's families are confused by this addiction, asking 'why can't you stop?,' 'at least you aren't using drugs,' and most common 'you make a lot of money, why would you blow it on gambling?'  Although we are funded to provide full-services to family and significant others roughly 10% of our client's are and of that only a handful continue services beyond one or two Q & A sessions.

For a quick anecdote I had a S.O last week joke about how she can "understand" her spouse's addiction because she too is addicted- to lip gloss.

The author, Robert Weiss is the author of three books on sexual addiction and Founding Director of the premiere sex addiction treatment program, The Sexual Recovery Institute. He is Director of Sexual Disorders Services at The Ranch and Promises Treatment Centers. 

"As with substance addiction recovery, the journey toward living free from addictive behaviors such as sex, gambling, and compulsive overeating is a complex, long-term process that requires professional counseling and/or integrated treatment from a team experienced in addressing the specific process addiction and any co-occurring emotional or substance disorders.
Reducing shame and stigma are essential in treating the process addictions. Sadly, our culture has limited understanding and compassion for these problems, more often viewing them as moral failings or character flaws, rather than as adaptive behaviors utilized for emotional stability and survival. Until the late 1970s (a period that evolved a sea-change in our understanding of the addictive process), our culture considered alcoholics to be “bums.” In much the same way, sex addicts are still perverts, and overeaters are just fat and lazy. So we still have a long way to go."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

10% of Americans in recovery from addiction

An article from my home state.  Much of the work I do as a Problem Gambling Counselor is normalizing the client's behavior.  It's the primary reason I gently push my client's to at least "try" one group offered.  To hear other people "me too*" is huge for client's to hear in their recovery.  This article is about a small phone survey with a simple question “Did you used to have a problem with drugs or alcohol but no longer do?”  The wording of the question with "problem" may be too broad for some, but includes people who may not consider themselves (or meet diagnostic criteria) for addictions or abuse.

* "me too" is a great non-verbal way I like to communicate with clients in group.  This simple ASL sign "me too" signifies a kind of empathy that using words interrupts.  I teach client's this on day one, as it is a great way to say 'I have been there too,' without interrupting, sharing or 'one-upping' in group.

Now I've been happy lately

Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be

Something good has begun

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Drug Court Success in Indiana

To say I am a fan of diversion programs for people addicted to AOD is like saying I just simply 'enjoy chocolate.'  I spent a few months while obtaining my Masters degree working with client's in a very similar program.  Those in the Portland, OR area were given a choice; felony conviction or 12-month intensive outpatient.  It may seem like an obvious choice taking a couple of classes, groups, talking about your feelings, peeing in  cup is definitely a better long term solution than trying to get a job or an apartment with a felony.  I had a client in group tell me "by month 3 if you aint learning, something is wrong with you."  Many struggled at first, and some are probably still in/out of the program 3 years later, but dealing head-on with the addiction was a full-time job.

I tell my Problem Gambling client's this too (they are self-referred); on our first session if I feel like they are going to do the bare minimum, telling me this is a financial issue, looking for a bail-out, refusing groups or GA.  My line is "Welcome to your new part-time job, to be successful 4 hours of group a week here, 1 hour of GA, 1 hour face-to-face with me, plus the hours you will be working all of this out at home, repairing relationships and building lost trust."  I am usually meet with a groan, eye-roll and often a question of how old I am/what do I know/where did I graduate from?  On session two client's are prepared and ready to go, hit the ground running although they feel like they are running in a sand pit for a while.

Glad to see drug courts are now in all 50 states, if only there was a way to have Gambling courts...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Celebrities in Recovery

I typically try to post articles that more "clinical," but with the publicity of Whitney Houston's death I thought it was important to think about those who are in recovery.  Also I would not use the term "beat addiction" with my client's as recovery is an ongoing issue that takes maintance.  The anology I use is weight loss, it takes diet and excerise to lose the weight as well as continuing to go to the gym and salads for lunch in order to mainatain it.  If you lost 50 lbs. then ate fast food everyday you would gain it all back.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Heroin Vaccine?

The above article outlines a new drug that will be available in 5 years similar to Antabuse for Heroin. I have mixed feelings about this, the same one I have with Antabuse; if someone skips a dose they can drink without any of the effects of Antabuse, essentially "getting high."  I would be more of a proponent of it if it built up in ones' system so you took a dose to last a week or longer, or it was an monthly injection administered with mandatory therapy and weekly group (not like a methadone clinic), with the plan of completing the program and not needing to continue the Rx.

Thoughts?  This has not been getting as much press as I would think it would in my area, which has a huge problem with heroin

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

VLT's move to Illinois and Iowa

Fears about Online Gambling - CBS4 - WHBF Quad Cities, IL-IA News Weather Sports

Forget having to leave your house to try and hit it big.  Both Iowa and Illinois are looking into legalizing online gambling.
That easy access to hitting the jackpot has addicts and counselors on pins and needles.
On Monday, a Senate panel approved a bill to legalize internet poker in Iowa, and across the river, Illinois lottery officials hope to start selling tickets online next month.  Supporters of online gaming see it as a way to bring more money into the cash strapped states, but those who struggle with addiction say the move could be dangerous

With the recent Supreme Court riling I suspect we will see more states in desperate financial way jumping on the bandwagon.  On one hand I can see how states see this as revenue and tourist money coming in, but of course i am concerned with the likely hood of people getting "hooked."  I did not see any mention of funding for counseling services, hopefully they will at  least do the 1% of income rule like Oregon.  This would make 8 states with VLT machines.

Monday, February 20, 2012

About Me

      Since graduating with my Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology in 2010, I have worked in outpatient mental health and addiction therapy. Currently I work with Problem Gamblers in the Portland, Oregon area utilizing CBT, DBT and MI. 
       After 5 years in Portland I am packing up and moving to Ann Arbor, MI early to mid-summer and currently networking, gaining more education and obtaining licensure.
      I am originally from NYC and of multi-cultural background.  In my spare time I enjoy reading memoirs, cooking, hiking and spending time with friends and family.

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twitter: @ApazMA