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...