137: Problem Gambling – When Knowing When to Hold Them Isn’t Enough (Sort Of)

We are talking about problem gambling, disordered gambling, or gambling addiction, whichever feels right for you to call it. We invite Will on to teach us all about the life of a problem gambler. Will shares his story, talks about the work he does now as a peer assisting with the problem gambling community, how to recognize problem gambling, the seriousness of the obsession and compulsion to gamble, and what can be done once someone decides they want to change their relationship with gambling. Listen in to learn more about this destructive behavior and how you might be able to help. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

National Council on Problem Gambling website

National Problem Gambling Hotline 1-800-522-4700

Gamanon episode

SMART Recovery episode

Celebrate Recovery episode

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who doesn’t gamble very much and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and we’re joined today by will who is a guy in long-term recovery for both alcohol and gambling that’s his uh titles not mine i’m not putting that on him but i’ll let him introduce himself more fully welcome will hey thank you so much i appreciate you all having me today um my name is will hinman i’m with the um maryland center of excellence of problem gambling is who i work for i’m a certified peer recovery sports specialist i’m assisting uh problem gamblers um i’m also in long-term recovery for alcoholism um and i’m i’m very heavily involved in both alcoholics anonymous and gamblers anonymous obviously it’s not unusual if somebody calls and they have a gambling problem to have dual addictions or co-occurring issues mental health issues or other addictions so um i’m kind of able to relate on a lot of a lot of different levels um at the end of my recovery or at the end when i hit my bottom i was actually suicidal so obviously mental health is something i can relate to as well yeah so we uh we got in touch with will because we had our episode with gamanon which you know was so informative i feel like and and i feel like the maybe the addiction recovery community knows so little about gambling addiction or game problem gambling or gambling recovery uh that you know we were like man we need to go further with this and so we we reached out and we got put in touch with will and and we’ve had some email correspondence and it just seemed like a great fit for the show i feel like you have so much knowledge about this topic so uh before i i’ve already got like we talked a little bit before we started recording and i’ve already got like 400 questions ready to go um because he’s mentioned a couple things already but i’m gonna slow down and be patient and i’m gonna let will just tell a little bit you know five to eight minute version of his story about why he’s here and what he knows about everything okay i’ll just tell i guess a little bit of my background and story if you want to hear that um you know so a lot of alcoholics talk about you know how they felt uncomfortable in their own skin and uh you know i was kind of on the outside looking in well i remember those feelings you know as far back as i can go you know three years old as far as i can remember just never feeling like i fit in and sports were my escape you know my parents divorced when i was five years old my mom had to move us around a lot of different schools and you know i was one of those kids that just did not warm up easily you know it took me a while to make friends so every time i would start to make friends i would move into another school so it just made it very difficult to adjust i would say sports were always my escape i love being outside love riding my bike playing field basketball baseball soccer you know um that was definitely my escape and um in high school you know i really resisted the urge to uh drink you know even when it started getting introduced to the parties you know i guess i don’t know if it’s because i thought it was unhealthy being an athlete or if it’s because uh i just intuitively maybe knew it wasn’t going to be good for me um but i was kind of the kid on the outside watching all the other kids have fun at the parties you know and uh and then this one one time i was out with my my buddy and uh you know i was heartbroken over this girl my first heartbreak and uh you know and like i said i was a shy introvert you know i was so uncomfortable in my own skin the girls told me later on they always thought i was a snob because i would walk around the hallways you know with the frown on my face it wasn’t because i was a snob it was because i was i was paralyzed with fear you know and uh so this one i was i was pouring my heart out to this guy and he said you need a beer i drank three beers boy and i thought my problems had been solved my social anxiety immediately you know i loosened up and i started drinking alcoholically pretty much from the next time i drank on you know i was the kid that was sick every single time we went out they’d be picking me up off the ground at industrial parks and tot lots you know and having to get me home but i loved it you know because it just uh it just removed all that fear that i’ve been running from my whole life and uh so of course you know at the end of my junior year in high school i got a job at an irish pub and uh there they taught you to drink like a gentleman and if you couldn’t handle your alcohol that that job you weren’t going to make it you know i start out as a bar back and i run behind the bar and the bartender would slip me a shot and i just do the shot and just keep on rolling and um i ended up working that job for 24 years you know and you know my parents forced me to get a college education you know i had no dreams or aspirations i had no faith in myself to do anything you know and uh i managed to to graduate from college but again i just had no dreams you know so i ended up staying at that job for 24 years i think because you know it made me feel like somebody you know it allowed me to live also the way i wanted to live and um drink the way i wanted to drink and feel normal and i was introduced to gambling i think when i was about 19 20 years old i was heading to a new york giants uh arizona cardinals game in new york and a guy said you know you can you can uh call on a bet with this guy if you want if you want to put some money on the line and of course i won both sides of my wager and uh and that started a relationship with sports gambling for many years i was a sports gambler for probably about 23 years you know small time i made my first trip to a casino when i was 21 years old ended up losing way more than i planned to lose drain my accounts you know i was a college kid my girlfriend was angry with me i remember peeling out of the parking garage on the way home i was mad at my buddy because he had won he had to put gas in my tank on the way home and that’s the way my you know my gambling career took off you know as far as casino gambling went but um i wanted more you know i loved i love the action i love the high that i got from gambling so i would say alcohol you know made me feel comfortable my own skin and gambling was my high many forms you know i enjoyed gambling no matter what it was if i was playing pool i’d have money online if i was playing darts i’d have money on the line my buddy and i used to play basketball we’d shoot best of 10 free throws to see you had to pay for lunch you know what i mean everything i did revolved around gambling and back then trips to a casino were something i had to plan out i had to drive three hours to atlantic city or i’d have to plan a trip to vegas you know my friends and i went to the final four in vegas 11 years in a row we took that trip we’d go over there and act like kids in a candy factory running around for three straight days with no sleep i’d come back broke busted disgusted not able to pay for the cab ride on the way back to the airport you know the only year i won out of 11 years going to to las vegas was the first year i lost every single year after that i came back a loser and it’s because it’s just like alcohol and drugs you know enough is never enough it just uh it didn’t matter if i was up at two o’clock in the morning i was gonna sit at the table till the next morning until they were washing the cards and everybody else had gotten up it’s just the way i was you know so that’s pretty much my store in a nutshell i hit it i hit it really um well i guess i should go into to my bottom um so what happened was you know i ended up marrying the love of my life at the time you know everything looked great on the outside you know and um that pub i told you about that had become my identity shut down in 2011 and you would have thought the world was in it you know it’s just a restaurant job you know but it was my family you know it was my network everybody i knew either came in there worked there you know and uh the owner was like a godfather to me you know and i didn’t know what i was gonna do you know i was paralyzed with fear of how i was gonna you know who i was gonna become after this and uh and that wife saw this scared kid come out i started drinking all hours of the day that’s when my drinking really took off and uh she didn’t like this scared kid she saw and um we ended up separating initially because of my alcoholism um i managed to white knuckle 30 days under my belt i didn’t want anything to do with alcoholics anonymous because i know they stressed total abstinent i just wanted to learn how to control my drinking and take a break for a while you know so i started out doing a couple smart recovery meetings you know once or twice a week just to tell my my ex-wife that i was doing something and she let me move back in after 30 days what happened was i ended up substituting one addiction for the other i started playing online blackjack and poker um like i said i was a sports gambling calling in plays now i was starting to turn to sports gaming as a financial solution because remember that you know that job for 24 years is shut down and uh you know you know i was just here i am trying to save my marriage and i’d be sitting at the dinner table with my computer playing my poker hands you know what i mean that doesn’t go well when you’re trying to save your marriage and you’re sitting at the dinner table with your wife and kids with the computer playing poker hands so what the worst thing happened to a gambler is it was like four o’clock in the morning i ended up winning this big poker tournament online like 200 players i came in first place in the rush you feel when you get to that final table pushing all in all in all in and i won and i ran through the house yelling and screaming woke up my wife woke up the kids told my wife i’m going to be a professional poker player and she didn’t like my new choice of careers i woke up the next morning i got ready to play my poker hands and i had this note sitting next to the computer and i said you got to go like you have to leave so she kicked me back out of the house again and you know you give a gambler this mentality they got nothing to lose that’s when it can get really really dangerous and right around that time is when the live casinos open in the state of maryland so now all of a sudden i got a casino 15 minutes from my house and uh and i’m thinking i got nothing to lose i’m losing everything anyway you know i’m gonna end up having to split everything with the white from losing love of my life you know and uh and that’s when i said it’s go big or go home time and same thing that happens to a gambler you know the first couple weeks i won big on on the on the blackjack table i thought i was going to be a professional blackjack player i was like this is great i get to play the game that i love for a living and the problem with gambling is you know it only takes that one bad night it only takes one bad night and uh and that’s what happened to me you know i drained all my accounts cash advances on the card and and uh that’s when it turns into like a drug habit you know that’s you go into desperation mode and um it gets ugly you know a lot of people don’t know that gambling’s got the highest risk of suicide of any other addiction they say that 50 of disorder gamblers will have thoughts of suicide one in five will actually attempt it you know it’s a pretty staggering number and that’s exactly what i had i had a plan in place to take my life at the end thank god my buddy was a poker player at the casino and he knew i was in dire straits he knew i was in desperation moon he called to check on me and i was having a do or die day i said if i don’t win today i’m going to kill myself and i had everything in my car to do it and he called me and uh i just told him i was done you know and they say you get kind of this peaceful calm before you commit suicide once you once you make that decision which would that’s what you’re gonna do and that’s exactly what i had i i made my my decision that’s that’s what i was gonna do and uh you know i had a life insurance policy so i i looked at it like my my family would be better off with me dead than alive because i felt like i was worth more dead than alive and uh thank god he called my uncle my uncle came to the casino with the police and they um i had a divine intervention you know they got me help and uh so i was escorted to you know a psych ward and i was under suicide watch for two days and then i went into another psych ward for five days and then i went into a 28 day rehab um you know rehabilitation and that’s where my recovery began i was in there that’s also when i was introduced to the center um they had a guy named uh a guy that came in there that that does what i do and he came in and spoke with me and shared his story with me and he lined it up so they brought aaa meetings into the recovery center and then he lined it up for a gambler’s anonymous member to take me to outside gamblers anonymous meetings to introduce me to some some problem gamblers so that was my introduction um you know the problem is i was doing it to save my marriage because my wife at the time was telling me i’m so proud of you we’re gonna work this out you know when you get out and all my counselors were saying you can’t do this for somebody else like you got to do this for yourself and i’m like as long as as long as i get my family back i’ll be okay and they’re like you can’t do this for somebody else and uh you know they were right you know within two weeks out of rehab you know i didn’t have any money to gamble i i’d surrendered over the gambling but i don’t think i had convinced myself that i couldn’t drink normally at that point i don’t think i had surrendered over the alcohol just yet i convinced myself the gambling was a problem but maybe i could go back to drinking and i relapsed on alcohol you know two weeks out of rehab and and i was right back in that same place where i was gonna take my life you know and thank god i got the number from a guy you know i wasn’t sharing in any meetings i was one of those guys that just showed up and left right after the meeting was over and i was very rarely sharing but i was at this one gambler’s anonymous meeting when they only had like eight to ten people around the circle and each person had to share so i share a little bit of my story and after the meeting this guy came up to me and said hey man we got real similar stories if you ever want to talk give me a call here’s my number and uh i decided before i killed myself maybe i’ll give this guy a call because i was completely hopeless and out of ideas you know and i was obliterated drunk i called this guy and he was at my house within two hours with another member from alcoholics anonymous and what i didn’t know was he was in both programs he he had struggled with gambling and alcohol you know and um and the crazy thing is his story made mine look like a fairy tale this guy had embezzled 1.1 million dollars from his law firm uh he was losing his wife he was losing his house just like me you know he was he lost everything he worked for his entire law career he was he had gotten a dui leaving the casino and was facing and he ran from the police in his car they had to chase him down he resisted arrest so this guy was telling me everything was going to be okay and i’m like either this guy is crazy or there’s something going on in those rooms i don’t know about he said i’m telling you you just take the suggestions do what they tell you to do and everything’s going to be okay he said man i don’t have to live as a slave to my addictions anymore so no matter what happens to me after this i’m gonna be i know i’m gonna be okay and that guy you know he walks the walk you know he and he ended up serving 13 months in a federal prison because of embezzlement um you know he’s still paying back restitution and and you know um the irs and everything else but he keeps putting one foot in front of the other he hasn’t had a drink or gambled in and coming up on nine years now and it’s people like that to really inspire me and it’s you know he gave me that little seat of hope that i needed to believe that recovery could work for me and and i took his suggestions i got a sponsor i got a home group i started working the steps and uh and my life became unbelievably better a lot quicker than i thought it could you know and i just started walking through my fears and my difficulties and just facing life on life’s terms you know what uh what an incredible story thank you for sharing that with us i’m i’m curious uh one of the first things that jumped out was the 28-day rehab for the alcohol or do they have gambling rehabs like that that’s a great question and this was back in 2013 when gambling was very new to the state so there wasn’t a whole lot of resources for gambling back then and uh i’m glad you asked that question no that was for so it was a place called shoemaker center and they were primarily alcohol and substance abuse but they had agreed to take gamblers as well so i was almost like their test case they had apparently just had a gambler a couple weeks prior but i was the only gambler that they knew of in there you know and of course there’s probably other people that were mingling with gambling too but i tell you if when my wife and i when she kicked me out the first time because of my alcohol if i’d gone into rehab then i guarantee you i wouldn’t have even mentioned my gambling because at that time the gambling wasn’t the problem it was the alcohol that was a problem you know because we don’t want to give everything up when we’re in it let me hold on to this one you know so as far as i knew i was the only gambler in there and that’s why they had michael come in and talk to me from the center because they knew they needed to get someone in there that that related to me and he happened to be also in recovery for alcoholism as well so i was able to relate to him but that’s a great question no i was the only gambler in there and it’s it’s still very that much very much that way in in the state here um i i have two residential um treatment centers i’m able to send gamblers to at no cost there’s now no cause treatment in maryland for any maryland residents struggling with with gambling and also for their family members believe it or not so we have a list of over 100 outpatient treatment providers i can refer them out to and then we have two residentials i can get them into and it’s a fun that’s set up to the casinos um it’s it’s a problem gambling fun and um their treatment is paid for out of that so essentially gamblers are prepaying for the treatment obviously the state makes a lot of revenue off gambling so it’s great to have that fund in place because obviously a lot of times by by the time gamblers get does they’re broke you know they have no money a lot of times they may have lost their jobs they might not have insurance so at least i can offer them no-cause treatment but it’s still the same way it’s a lot of substance abuse and um alcohol and very few gamblers in there and so sometimes there might be one or two other gamblers um there’s really only a few that i know of across the country you know one is called alchemist in arizona i think is primarily for gamblers there’s a williamsville wellness in virginia that’s maybe i think 25 percent gamblers and 75 percent substance abuse and mental health issues but um there’s not a whole lot out there just for gamblers man who knew while you were at the casino you had like a vacation plan in place yeah i didn’t know uh they were setting money aside for investing in a 2018 right so um another thing that brings up for me it kind of ties in so i’m thinking like maybe we don’t recognize the need for people who are in addictions that aren’t physically dependent right you talk about alcohol and heroin like oh you need to go away for 28 days to get away from the physical dependence maybe we don’t recognize the need that people who have these other forms of addiction you know and we’re talking about gambling today also could use that reprieve and that break from the the stress and the ability to access and i wonder if that ties into the suicide rate that you mentioned right um i’m thinking like people on you know certain drugs or alcohol it’s almost like when we go to face that at some point we can kind of realize oh [  ] it’s because i was under the influence of that thing that’s why i was that yucky ugly person that i was whereas like with gamblin you kind of don’t have that right i mean i think in recovery you sort of recognize that there’s this monster inside you or however we want to frame it but generally the average guy who’s just coming to terms with that he’s just like he doesn’t have the substance to blame it on he’s just feeling like a piece of [  ] right now i’m wondering if that elevates the the uh suicide rate for that particular form without a doubt you know i think there’s a really great stigma attached to gambling it’s also we call it the invisible addiction because it’s so much easier to hide we’re not snorting poker chips our noses aren’t red we’re not stumbling drunk you know what i mean so we’re not we’re not stumbling around you know so it’s very hard to recognize um it’s a lot easier to hide you know and um because we’re not injecting anything into our bodies sometimes people don’t take it as seriously but they did a brain scan of a gambler and somebody under the influence who cocaine and they have identical brain scans it hits the same pleasure centers releases dopamine and that’s what makes gambling unique is we get that same high without injecting anything into our bodies but it’s so financially destructive you know you can only do so much drugs in the night but you can you can gamble your life away in one night you know and come out just devastated the next day you know and and leave their broke bust and discuss it i know a lot of people in long-term recovery from substance abuse and alcohol that got caught in a gambling track they they just had no idea that it could get so bad there’s one guy i can think of in particular that attends meetings with me regularly and he shared a couple times he said man all the years i was out there drinking and running using he said i never once thought about suicide he said this thing here i thought about taking my life a bunch of times he said if it wasn’t for my daughter i know i would already done it because it’s just it’s financially devastating yeah when you talk about the hidden aspects of it you know my wife and i were talking about you know this episode and and talking about you know gamblers anonymous and both of us are in long-term recovery we know a lot of people in recovery and she had mentioned you know yeah a lot of people will find their way to gambling after they you know get into recovery and then we couldn’t name one person that we personally know out of the hundreds of people that we know in recovery which means they’re out there they’re just not like openly emitting it or there must be shame or stigma behind it that keeps that a secret i’m actually picturing you know how they cops pull you over for a sobriety check i’m picturing they like pull you over at the casino to do like a gambling sobriety check and they’re like i bet you can’t touch your nose and if you take the bet you’re a gambler well they do actually have a program called game sense um which is i know the mgm here has it in connecticut it’s real big where they actually go around the casinos and they look for people in distress and they offer to you know hey let me get you a meal why don’t you take a break it’s not hard to tell when when a gambler’s in distress when they’re in the middle of you know losing a bunch of money and they’re chasing their losses um forget what i was going to you were talking about your wife what i was going to say is your wife and you might not thinking about it think about all the things so let me define gambling gambling is risking money or something of value for an outcome that’s not guaranteed so there’s a lot of things that fit under gambling that a lot of people don’t think about obviously you got casino gambling sports gambling scratch all slottery games i mean i know some people that have a scratcher it’s like a crack problem to them like people are out running buying their scratch-off tickets every single day or playing their numbers every single day um cryptocurrency day trading falls under gambling and i know a lot of people we’re getting more callers calling the 1-800 gambler helpline number they’re like i don’t know if crypto counts but if that’s gambling i got a serious problem they’re like i put all my money into bitcoin and it’s down big time and i don’t know what to do so that’s gambling you know what i mean and i i know some people that have been dire straight from day trading and playing crypto or buying crypto you know um so there’s a lot of things that fit under that definition and there’s a lot of high risk groups um veterans can be at high risk a lot of people don’t know this but they have they have slot machines on the bases overseas you know and and gambling is proven for traumatic brain injuries and ptsd it really quiets the brain and it some some people gamble as an escape and it turns into a financial problem seniors can be at high risk they’re going through life transitions they might have just lost their loved one you know what i mean or maybe they’re isolated from their families they’re lonely if you go into a casino you’ll notice that a lot of the people in there are 55 and over and um it’s because you know it’s their escape it’s their escape and it turns into a financial problem and you know the sad thing is when a senior loses everything they don’t have the rest of their life you know a lot of time to get that money back you know they’re left in a pretty desperate way so there’s a lot of forms of gambling that fit under that definition a lot of people i think don’t think of and you’re right it could be hidden too maybe just people are just keeping it hidden you know one of the things billy’s comment brings up for me because he had told me that before we came on to this call i know one person with problem gambling that i can think of that’s in recovery and they are in a a and so what that makes me wonder like kind of two things here one i wonder if alcoholics have the the space in their life to also acquire gambling as they’re going through their alcohol addiction like kind of with drug addiction there’s really not enough space to to go out and branch out and get some other stuff right so maybe that’s a an in born thing to the way they’re using that there’s room for that and for most of us all of our money is going to use oh yeah well we were gambling like is this guy going to give me real [  ] right um i don’t have an extra five for scratch not at all but i also wondered if maybe the culture of recovery is a little different right i’m wondering if like gambling isn’t more often mentioned in alcohol recovery environments whereas in maybe you know other drug recovery environments it’s not as talked about a thing and so maybe people in like a n a setting don’t hear about it in meetings so they don’t talk about their own problem or don’t even identify their own problem whereas maybe in alcohol-related recovery meetings it’s much more of a general like oh yeah a lot of us have this problem too so we talk about it pretty regularly what would you say about that oh without a doubt you know one of my big roles is i take a lot of um problem gambling awareness presentations in the recovery centers you know and um our clinical manager works really hard to make sure they have screening tools so if they’re screening for problem gambling you know when when they’re screening them and um you know we’ll go in there and when i first get into the into the presentation they’ll be like why are you here i don’t have a gambling problem by the end of the presentation two or three of them are sharing about man i was buying scratch offs right before i came here i was at the casino right before i came here yes sports gambling has always been a part of my life you know so it’s just kind of getting them to relate in a lot of times they don’t want to talk about it they don’t want to think about it like i said if i’d gone to rehab the first time when i when i separated from my wife about the alcohol i would have never even brought the gambling up when i was in rehab because that was something i wanted to hold on to if i’m gonna give up the alcohol i certainly sure don’t want to give up the gambling right do you think you even saw a problem with the gambling at that point no i i think i looked at it as a hobby you know i was a small time player for years you know i was still able to pay my bills you know but if i look back at all the money that i i bled away over the years it’s disgusting and more than just the money the time and the energy that it took for me you know sundays in the bar instead of being home with my kids you know what i mean where i’m hanging at the bars all day with my football pools and watching the games and drinking you know or monday night football you know or you know when i like i said i took those yearly trips to vegas i would come back feeling so guilty because i could have taken my family on all-inclusive vacations somewhere you know what i mean and spent that money to take my family on vacation instead of telling my wife that we were too broke to go on vacation you know the next three months you know so it’s but no i would have protected my right to gamble you know because it hadn’t gotten me to the point of desperation it was the alcohol that was getting me there at that time and then it and then it flipped within a year it flipped it became the gambling and not the alcohol that was a problem you know man i’m not gonna lie so i don’t i don’t want to say i don’t gamble i generally don’t feel compelled to do much gambling uh and it doesn’t seem to make my life unmanageable in the small ways that i do participate like i’m a guy who you know if we’re on the job site and we want to bet something on who’s buying lunch for the other guy once a week i’m down with that that’s fun we can do that right that seems reasonable but i never want to bet any real amount of money i play fantasy football though and you know i’m like well i get an allowance it’s a hundred bucks out of my allowance for the season that’s like 17 weeks of joy for me that’s cool but you kind of hurt my feelings just now when you were like oh you spend your sundays only watching football and not really hanging with your kids and i’m like [  ] that’s what i do during football i like football god damn it so i don’t know that that hurt me a little bit billy i’m i’m curious for you to bring up what you were talking to me about with the uh the collectibles and stuff yeah so my wife was she works in a lot of uh in the treatment field and i’ll just say that and she had mentioned that she’s heard of people that have uh i guess they considered a gambling addiction with like collectible items maybe baseball cards or action figures or things like that where they’re investing tons of money thinking they’re going to make money later you know and that being like a an addiction it very well could fit on the under the definition you know they’re risking money or something of value for an outcome that’s not guaranteed you know so it could probably fit under that definition yeah that’s what i mean that definition just messes me up because i’m like christ isn’t that what i do when like i fall in love with somebody like i’m risking my my livelihood or my life or something of value for an outcome that’s not guaranteed i don’t know it just it that definition is very interesting to me yeah whenever i go into those recovery presentations they always say i risk my life every day when i’m you when i use you know when i drink when i go out i was like yeah you know i don’t know if that formally fits on the definition but there’s we definitely take a lot of risks out there that’s for sure

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what kind of so i’m sure there’s like your typical signs that maybe we’d be more aware of and it wouldn’t hurt to list them here either of how to recognize that gambling is a problem in our lives but maybe there’s also some more subtle signs that people don’t think of do you mind like going through kind of a list of things that would make people aware that they might want to seek help you know a lot of preoccupation you know they’re there but they’re not there you can tell something’s going on but you just don’t know quite what obviously you know you notice they’re broke and you don’t know why they’re asking for money and it’s you can’t explain why you know what you worked all last week why all of a sudden you need money you know it’s uh subtle things like that it’s funny i met a a woman it was a mom and her son um at the casino because they were signed up for the voluntary exclusion program do you all know what that is no oh is that where you say you you don’t want to be allowed in the casino anymore exactly it’s interesting i i consider it to be like an abuse for alcoholics where you get sick if you do it um and the crazy thing is we get a lot of violations you know there’s a lot of people that violate that program and it shows the powerlessness over it so here they can sign their cells out for two years or lifetime in maryland and what that means is once they sign up they are not allowed on the premises if they get caught there they’re considered illegally trespassing and we have a lot of them go in there anyway but i was um meeting this woman with her son and while he was back in the office signing up she said i didn’t know what was going on with him i knew i didn’t smell alcohol he’d never done drugs but he was staying out so late he wasn’t getting home until four o’clock in the morning you know he was broke and i didn’t know i i i didn’t think he was doing drugs and he was gambling you know so if it’s something that seems unexplainable and you know they’re not drinking or using it might just be they’re gambling that’s and i was on the ga website they also have like a 20 questions on there as well that walks through you know looking for signs and symptoms so that i thought was pretty helpful as well yeah we have us oh sorry we have a questionnaire too on our website helpmygamblingproblem.org and uh same type of thing as the 20 questions where you can take a screening assessment and what your score is um whether you know you are a problem gambler but i love those 20 questions they’re great you know and it’s it’s a reminder for me you know i’d say for probably 15 20 years i was probably answering yes to 10 or 12 or 14 of those questions but it only took that last year before i’m answering yes to all 20. you know so it’s progressive just like drugs and alcohol you know with time and eventually once it grabs you it grabs you hard you know i think if i take nothing else out of this episode and there’s a lot to take but just that idea that you said preoccupation i feel like is something i need to maybe just look at more in my life not so much for me specifically around the gambling idea but i think that preoccupation ideas so huge to any form of something that is causing life on manageability right because we we can justify or rationalize or say well i’m showing up for work every day i spend time with my kids i’m doing all these positive things but am i really there while i’m doing it right is my brain somewhere else am i constantly thinking about this other thing whatever this other thing is and yeah that that takes a toll on a life man when you’re not really there it’s like you’re just kind of daydreaming through it almost you know like ghosts walking through life and that’s absolutely right i read something and i can’t remember where about gambling addiction that there’s like some uh or there can be some fantasy associated with it like oh when i win this money i’m gonna do this and that and then i’m gonna take care of my family and do all these great things and then i’ll be able to support all these great you know things but right now i gotta win oh no that’s a great point they call that the dream world of a compulsive gambler there’s actually a reading in the yellow book of gamblers anonymous about that you know once i hit the big one all my dreams are gonna come true about buying family members luxury cars and designer clothes and you know once we hit that big win and then it says says sally they will struggle back and dream more dreams without this dream world life for them would not be tolerable and you know and you can think about the fact that it doesn’t matter the amount of money you gamble you know what’s a lot for one person may not be a lot for another and vice versa but there’s people living on the streets you know that have fixed incomes that are spending even if it’s 20 a week on lottery tickets that’s money they could be putting food in their stomach you know and it’s it’s um it’s all about the proportion of their income you know and we’re not accusing anybody just could you gamble if you can set a limit on your time and money and pay all your bills and you know it’s not taking you away from your life’s responsibilities and you know 90 to probably 90 to 95 percent of people can gamble normally but the ones that can’t you know it can become a serious problem it can really hold them back in ways they don’t even realize it’s holding them back like i said you’re just bleeding a little bit of money here a little bit of money there but for some people it’s important money that they could be spending elsewhere you know is there like you know there’s the financial advice of like don’t spend more than this percentage of your salary on a house or whatever on your on your rent is there actual percentage for what you consider to be a line for gambling i mean it probably all depends on how much you know how much disposable income you have left over after paying all your bills i actually was just talking to a therapist the other day about i guess a couple that worked it out because there’s harm reduction for gamblers just like there is you know for drugs and alcohol where somebody may not want to stop gambling like you were saying you know maybe they still want to play fantasy football you know maybe they still want to they want to hold on to this activity or that activity they realize as long as they’re not calling in bet with the bookie you know or whatever sports gambling or going to the casino they’ll be fine and i think the wife allowed to them two and a half percent of their income is allowed to be spent towards gambling so they’re monitoring that goal that’s the harm reduction plan and as long as they keep it there and they’re not spending too much time and energy on it you know so you know that’s the goal for them and then eventually they can kind of see that you know maybe i can’t control this because i know for me once i start getting that area of my brain working again it’s going to lead to other things you know what i mean so i try to keep that area quiet you know i don’t even buy raffle tickets anymore you know just because it i just don’t want to get that part of my brain moving you know i relapse in 2016 i had a very relapse brief relapse on poker um i thought you know i was about to go through my divorce i was getting you know those i was getting irritable restless discontent i was a couple years in a recovery and i was thinking oh maybe i can go back and just play poker you can’t lose as much blackjack i can sit out hands all night you know and the first few times it went fine i left it a decent hour you know just took a couple hundred dollars with me but the last time i was there the third or fourth time i ended up being there until 10 o’clock the next morning you know i went to the cash machine you know which i promised myself i wouldn’t do i crazy enough went down to the blackjack table because i had like fifty dollars and then you needed a hundred dollars to buy in on the poker table so i said all right let me go see if i can double this fifty dollars of course i lost the fifty dollars right away ended up going the cash machine but i was there until 10 or 11 o’clock the next morning and i had plans with my family that day and i i woke up at like three o’clock i had like six missed calls from my family and it just brought back flashbacks of you know during my bottom and i said i i can’t go there anymore i saw exactly where it was taking me you know once i start i just never know when i’m gonna stop you know this might sound so minuscule or petty to somebody who’s really struggling with problem gambling i don’t know but i was 11 years old uh my father had given me like eight dollars to go down to this little local fair in my neighborhood and they had one of the wheels where you know you put your money on some thing and it spins the wheel and it happened to be that the things you put your money on was money it was like a dollar bill or two dollar bills or five dollar bills and i started winning and i ended up with like 51 at some point to an 11 year old kid and i was like holy [  ] i am the king right and i kept playing and i kept playing and then i got down to like 30 some and i was like i gotta get if i can get back up to 51 i’ll stop right and i left there with like three bucks and it hurt so [  ] bad i have just never ever ever wanted to do it again like it really hurt me

it’s so funny you brought up that wheel because the guy that i told you that shared he’s got 23 years clean and sober and he said gambling is what brought him you know has made him think about taking his life that will he laughs because he said you’re gonna laugh when i play he said all i play is that wheel he’s lost tons of money i used to play that wheel just to relax you know put a dollar and the two dollars into five dollars and whatever and uh but he’s lost a fortune playing on that wheel that literally took him to the point of suicidal thinking isn’t that crazy that is crazy so i’ve the only time i ever went to a casino uh we went on our honeymoon my wife and i and when we had a layover in puerto rico on the way down and the way back so we saw there was a casino in the airport and we saw it on the way down and we were like all right we’ll put this money aside we’ll each have 100 bucks we’ll spend it on the way back so we got some time we went in there and i spent like 40 bucks out of my hundred and i was so miserable and i just gave her the other 60. i’m like i don’t give a [ __ ] that we’re spending this money here i don’t want to do it it just does not bring me any joy whatsoever so i don’t know what that is for me but it was like i attributed to that 11 year old experience i’m like i just don’t like it anymore it doesn’t it doesn’t hit my scratch my itch i guess that’s awesome yeah and i hear that a lot of times in the recovery presentations that i take in you know they say no i lost 20 one time i’m never doing that again you know i don’t like losing money and you’re right it’s it’s all about someone’s itch you know it’s what scratches are itch it’s a great way of putting it and you know everybody’s got their vices but we have to be careful we all know you know it’s a whack-a-mo game and that’s what i tell everybody in the presentations i said if your mind’s anything like mine it’s not going to crave vegetables and exercise when you get out of here it’s most likely going to start clinging to some other self-destructive behavior and i just want to make sure it’s not gambling you know yeah it was interesting when you talked about like day trading or or doing the cryptocurrency stuff like because i’m not a person like i don’t go to casinos or any of that probably wouldn’t my grandfather had a gambling problem when we were kids and we heard all the stories and like when we were kids he would take us to pimlico racetrack you know while he’s betting on horses all day so we had you know some horror stories growing up so i just always stayed away from it but i could easily see myself getting into like day trading or cryptocurrency i’ve had some friends get into that and tell me about it and started looking into it a little bit you know and could see myself going that track and getting caught up in that type of gambling yeah so funnily enough and this is you know the antithesis to what i was saying about me not liking gambling my itch is scratched by control and so there’s just too much risk in gambling it’s like no i got i gotta know i gotta make force every so it’s not from a healthy place all the time right it’s kind of unhealthy but it’s coming from the other direction it’s like i can’t risk that money that’s not fun at all i gotta control everything in my life yeah it’s a good point you know i i have heard a lot of times some people in recovery the ones that were dealing drugs did a lot of gambling because i think you’re right you know if you’re into substance abuse you know drugs a lot of times they want to spend that money on the drugs although i have heard a couple people told me they gamble to try to buy the drugs but most of the time they were using that money straight towards the drugs but the ones that were dealing the drugs and had that extra cash a lot of them were gambling and you know you don’t think about that street dice too you know i was never a dice world but that’s a lot a lot of them share about playing dice on the streets you know and uh you know i was never too into that but that’s definitely a form of gambling too that’s that’s been big with a lot of people so you had mentioned before we started recording uh the prevalence of males in the gambling recovery community and i i found that interesting i mean aaa we we know the big book still has the two wives section you know because obviously only men were alcoholics i guess when they started that but i mean predominantly in the world that’s probably who was allowed to be alcoholics per se um and you know i i know in some of the the sex addiction meetings there’s that same kind of feel right because it’s more i don’t want to say socially acceptable but but men have been kind of socially guided that way yeah right like you know it’s easy to talk about men masturbating everybody does it it’s a thing about it whatever we want to say about it but like you know boys will be boys but women oh that’s weird now they’re dirty or unclean or something yeah so does that apply to gambling too is that a thing or like you had mentioned that maybe women weren’t coming just because it was uncomfortable but is it also a thing where like societally it wasn’t okay for women to gamble for a certain amount of time you kind of got my wheels turned on that because i started thinking too you know back in the day there was a lot more homemakers you know women were staying home and maybe didn’t have access to money like they do but now there’s a lot of career women out there that have their own money and and there’s a lot more access to gambling now you know um the online gambling you know and um like i had a woman that called the helpline number the other day she’s playing a game called fish tables which i never heard of and apparently you can go online and you join a group and i read up on it’s one of the most common most entertaining forms of gambling out there it’s it’s huge online but um there you know there’s a lot more access to it and there’s a lot more non-traditional forms of gambling now that maybe attract gambling women more but what i was more saying was i think there was more of a stigma with women coming into the rooms of gamblers anonymous maybe like back in the day it was a lot more stigmatizing for a woman to go in the rooms of alcoholics anonymous like early in the big book that’s all they talk about were men very few you know times where women mentioned so it might have been the same type of thing where maybe women were embarrassed to come into the rooms if they did have a gambling problem and i think those telephone and virtual meetings during the pandemic made them a lot more comfortable to come in because they weren’t walking in the room with eight to ten guys and being the only woman in the room you know and i saw that a lot of times like i said i’ve been to meetings where there’s only one or two women there and all the rest were guys and like i also said i know some women in long-term gambling recovery that share now they’re like i am so glad we have all these women joining our fellowship now you know and we saw a huge increase in women during the pandemic and i think it’s because of the virtual meetings being available and it also connected so many people that wouldn’t have otherwise met if they were just going to their same local meeting with the same five to 10 people every week now all of a sudden you got everybody from across the state joining on one you know call or virtual meeting and um it brings everyone together so the women don’t feel as alone because there’s always you know at least a few women on the meetings going back to that uh i believe you call it the self-exemption list that you can put yourself on exclusion yeah self-exclusion voluntary exclusion list is what’s called so i had actually heard people previously some years back tell me that that was like really effective and they weren’t allowed to walk in and they were stopped at the door when they tried to and then i had spoken to someone recently who said he’s on the list and it hasn’t helped him not one bit he goes in there all the time they don’t say nothing to him he said what i can’t do is if i hit a big jackpot i can’t go cashing myself he’s like but uh yeah they don’t stop me it goes both ways i know some people it’s been really helpful because they don’t want to risk getting arrested or getting a you know criminal citation because it goes on your criminal record as a misdemeanor um trespassing charge so that threat of that because of their jobs or just because they do not want to get in legal trouble it keeps them out of it they don’t even think about going back um but then there are others you know like you said some casinos may be stricter than others about check-in or catching people you know um and but eventually you go on there enough times eventually you will get caught like you said too if you hit a jackpot not only can you get a criminal citation you don’t get to get you don’t get to collect your money and believe me i’ve had people call they’re so mad this one girl called me she said i went in there like five ten times i finally hit a jackpot they’re going to take my money and arrest me and they don’t get to keep the money by the way it goes into that treatment fund people think the casinos keep it it gets deposited into a treatment fund but it gets confiscated from them i know another woman she violated twice on the voluntary exclusion list and and she said she called me she was so upset because uh she had talked to her mother that morning she had gotten some really traumatic news they talked about something that really traumatically triggered her and she went straight to the casino she didn’t care she was on the volunteer exclusion list or not that was her drug she said i don’t drink i don’t use but that is my medicine and i’m sick and they’re treating me like a criminal you know is the way she felt because she had chips on her or vouchers and they wanted to take her the chips and confiscated she did not like that she fought them too youth and nail not to take her money and it turned into a big mess for her and um she’s doing fantastic today you know she actually took that experience and turned it into a positive but uh it’s like a drug for some people it’s like alcoholics drinking on ant abuse you hear about it happen all the time or on vivitrol you know they do it anyway that’s insanity of the addiction and but that also shows you how cunning and baffling gambling is too like here they don’t trust themselves not to go in there if they don’t have the threat of a criminal citation and they go in there anyway right so kind of we there’s a lot of people violating i can tell you and they catch a lot of people too so there are some that that don’t get caught but there are a lot of them that do get caught too i i’m curious you know because gambling seems so not specific especially by its its own definition right what’s the most interesting or strangest story you’ve heard of somebody coming in and being able to identify in with the feelings or the process of being gambling’s anonymous but maybe not necessarily being something you pictured being gambling previously like what’s the most fascinating one you’ve encountered i’d say probably the crypto and the day trading just because we’re starting to see more and more people coming into the rooms with that addiction you know and recognizing that this is insane and you know the thing about the crypto market is it’s open 24 7. so you can trade at four five six o’clock in the morning it doesn’t matter what time it’s always there for you and waiting you know so i that’s been one of the more interesting definitely um i’m seeing a lot more people that are recognizing that hey this is out of control i need to get help is this gambling oh yeah absolutely that’s gambling you’re risking everything you know put in the market and it’s gone you know so they’re pretty upset does every state have a facility or organization like the one you’re working at to help problem gambling i think all the ones that have casinos or legal gambling in their state and i’m glad you asked that question so obviously i’m just with maryland but um there’s the national council on problem gambling and if you go to the website which is www.ncpgambling.org

um they have a list by state of resources and if you go on there you can click on whatever your state is it’ll tell you what the council in your state is and then you can get all the resources in your state they also have a

1-800-522-4700 helpline so their helpline is 1-800-522-4700 and i’ve heard talk that they may change it to 1-800 gambler which would be great because the gambler hope line identifies whatever zip code you’re in and connects you to the state but then different states have their own local um 800 helpline number as well but i would be happy if ncbg had our helpline number because that means anybody calling them would also be connected to us if they were in the state of maryland but right now it’s 1-800-522-4700

so you can call that number or go to www.ncpgambling.org

is their website and then just hit help by state go to your state and it it’ll tell you if there is a council in your state and a lot of the states do have their own council now if they want 1-800 gambler they’re going to have to buy the rights from kenny rogers yeah exactly uh most of our audience is probably too young to even know the hell i’m talking about anyway i got it i got it um so what happens when when they call you obviously said there’s you know free rehabilitation available which is incredible what kind of other things can you offer or suggestions or what do you do do you like guide people to seek treatment or do you generally guide people to what are you looking for like how can i help you what’s your goal once they call i’m so glad you asked um so what happens when they call it obviously nobody’s calling a helpline number if they’re on on a good run um they’ve just gone through a real bad run a lot of times it’s early in the morning they’ve been at the casino all night you know and uh and they’re in a pretty hopeless state you know and um so the first thing i try to do is obviously give them that seat of hope that was given to me you know no matter how far down the scale you’ve gone you can turn it around if you stop turning to the problem as a solution and i always tell gambler i know the hardest thing you’re ever going to do is to to stop chasing your losses because they may not want to gamble anymore but they owe this person money that person money this bill that bill they’re facing eviction they’re facing losing their car and all of a sudden they get their paycheck on friday and they’re thinking okay well maybe i can pay this bill on that bill but how am i going to pay this bill that bill this bill in that bill you know what i mean so they they’re thinking the only thing i can do is try to go back and win that money back so i try to convince them that chasing their losses is not the answer is the first thing i try to do i try to give them hope that there is another way up and out and then like you said i asked them you know what are you looking for in your recovery i can offer you a counselor if you want treatment there’s no cost treatment if you want to go to residential we have two residentials or i could just find you outpatient a lot of them don’t want to take off time from work because obviously money is a problem so i i get them into the hands of an outpatient treatment provider like i said i can offer them you know the telephone meetings or daily if they want to call into a meeting a lot of times i can jump on a meeting with them that night there’s another group called gamblers in recovery they have 24 7 gambling meetings across the world so you can literally jump on there any time of the day and there are also meetings on there for family members as well so that’s a great resource i offer them if they’re not into the 12-step spiritual approach you know there’s um smart recovery you know if they want to go to those kinds of meetings um there’s celebrate recovery if they’re real into the more religious approach so i try to cater it to whatever their recovery needs are if they need housing resources you know some of them are getting evicted losing their homes or whatever i offer them housing resources across the state um legal aid if if they’re in if they you know if they need legal resources if they meet the requirements there’s free legal aid um within the state so whatever whatever resources i can offer them to give them some hope uh consumer credit counseling is one two that will actually run their credit report and help them to figure out a plan to address their creditors and they’ll actually call and even set up payment plans with their creditors um or advise them if they think bankruptcy is the best route for them to take you know so whatever i can do to help them you know just get them on the path to recovery but the big thing is hopefully convince them to stop chasing their losses and that’s easier said than done because a lot of times i’ll talk to them and it’ll be three or four weeks they’ll go back you know into hiding i don’t hear from them and then they’ll pop back up and say man i wish i listened you know i thought it was bad last time i called now it’s way worse and i’ve heard that many times because they’re just not quite done yet you know is the uh did you did you mention like counseling or therapy services in there is that free as well it’s free no cost we have over 100 treatment providers across the state outpatient providers um just counselors addictions counselors that we also provide trainings to clinicians so they can integrate problem gambling into their current mental health and substance abuse service system um so they have a little more specific training but they’re basically addictions counselors that have taken some problem gambling training and they offer the no-cause treatment and um so they’re reimbursed at a medicaid rate um for the treatment and the gambler doesn’t have to pay a dime or their family member again sometimes it’s a spouse calling saying i can’t keep my husband or wife out of the casino we’re about to get evicted from our you know whatever and uh we just lost our car at least i can get them into the hands of a counselor so they can get the support until the gambler’s ready because a lot of times it’s the family member making the call before the gamble is ready to stop the gambler wants to keep chasing their losses the family member just wants them to stop how many people would you say elect for that service and this is kind of a personal question i think my job actually signed up to be one of the organizations you work with and i don’t think we’ve gotten anybody yet so i was just curious how many people actually you know elect to do that or take that quite a few um you know some people aren’t in you know they don’t want to share their personal business in a group you know um i would say at least probably 50 percent opt to it now whether they show up to the appointment that can be another story it’s just like substance abuse that you know they maybe act like they’re ready when they call whether they’re actually going to make the call and show up to their first appointment that can be another story but i can tell you i sent out probably 75 percent of them at least accept referrals to a counselor um but obviously it’s a much smaller percentage that actually make the phone call schedule and show up for their first appointment and i’ve been trying to warm transfer them which i found is really effective if i actually call the counselor while they’re on the line with me and um make that first appointment with them for screening but you know some of them you know i i had one that just they got a little freaked out during the screening they were asking a bunch of personal questions they didn’t understand why they needed to get so deep into their history and why are they asking all these personal questions because they want to have an idea of who you are and your background so they they can treat you properly and i explained that to them and they were more comfortable with that answer but i still don’t think they’ve scheduled for the next appointment um but it’s a pretty high percentage at least accept referrals it’s whether they follow up or not that’s that can be a different story because some of them go back out and gamble it’s just like substance abuse they may call the time and sound like they’re ready but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready just yet how hard has it been for you as a person who practices the gambling anonymous program of you know complete abstinence from gambling uh how hard has it been for you to navigate that that’s one part of your life and then in another place you know you offer these other ideas of possibly harm reduction for gambling like does that is that a struggle for you at all no i keep an open mind you know if it’s reducing the harm and i’ve worked with a lot of gamblers that you know that i’ve been working with for two years and i’ve seen their progression towards total abstinence or i’ve seen that they’ve been able to control it some of them you know a few so i’m able to keep an open mind and i’ve had some that have tried to you know mingle with the fantasy football man with this and it’s gone they hit another bottom they call me but you have to let them find their own way we all know if we try to force someone to do something and we try to you know slam down the law that doesn’t go well they’re going to do the exact opposite so i got to meet them where they’re at you know and keep an open mind and let them find their own way but that’s why i really want to get them in the hands of a counselor to get them scheduled because they can work on them towards whatever their recovery goals are you know whether it’s total abstinence just cutting back reducing the harm you know whatever that is but over time they generally see how destructive it’s being on their own life but they have to see it on their own you know i can point it out to them but until they see it on their own you know it’s up to them how is the attitude in gambling anonymous so at why i bring this up um you know in in maybe a narcotics anonymous the attitude towards harm reduction is like we want you here but you can’t celebrate clean time or talk about your experience necessarily sometimes or you can’t be of service or hold certain service positions uh and i feel like that could be sometimes off-putting i i you know i guess what i’m picturing for gambling anonymous it’s probably pretty similar like hey if you’re living a harm reduction modality of your recovery that’s great and we want you here but do they even celebrate clean time and gambling anonymous is that a thing oh yeah they definitely do big time um and it’s a great question because like i had someone i was hoping the other day and she said one of the biggest reasons why i gamble is because i’m lonely i moved here from out of state i don’t have any friends and i said well you’re not going to be lonely anymore i’m going to introduce you a lot of people that understand you and um and she she jumped right in she’s got a referral to a treatment provider she started attending meetings regularly you know uh immediately she got the names and numbers of some other women in the program and she immediately connected she loved it but she got freaked out because she’s like wait a minute but they don’t want me to gamble at all and i really like you know like my husband wanted me to buy some numbers with at the kentucky derby last week i didn’t do it because i knew that would be gambling but like i usually do this bingo thing with my friends every year like i still want to do that and i said look your goals are your goals whatever’s working for you is what works for you you have to determine what’s the best balance in your life for your recovery and uh i said i wouldn’t go advertising that you think it’s okay to control gambling if you want to keep attending the meetings because she loves the fellowship she doesn’t want to stop one of me right i said just reset your date just say i gambled yesterday you know i said because they’re always going to welcome you back i you know if you just gambled the day before they want you to come back and they’ll welcome you with open arms but i wouldn’t go promoting it you’re practicing harm reduction either and then oh yeah i just gamble here and there just say hey i just gambled yesterday you know and leave it at that but you’re right it does affect what service positions you have because like you have to have 90 days of abstinence to be able to chair a meeting you know so if you constantly are resetting your date every you know 30 days and you’re not going to be able to have the service positions you know that that you might be able to have if you had long-term complete abstinence from it so it does affect you there as far as you know being able to be of service and get involved um it’s yeah it can be frowned upon if if you’re promoting um that i’m a control gambler while you’re at meetings that definitely it’s like doing that n a or a you know you can’t go well i go to happy hour just have a couple beers a couple times a week but uh you know it doesn’t go well and i know n a even with suboxone and methadone i’ve had friends in na said they almost chased me out of the room and you know one guy was on suboxone for six months and n.a didn’t look at that as clean time at the meetings he was going at and he said thank god i met a couple guys in there they were really understanding that kept me coming around because otherwise i would have walked right out of there and god only knows what would happen and he’s completely clean now he’s not on anything but you gotta let people find their own recovery you know it’s you gotta meet them wherever they’re at and um and i try to keep a really open mind well and that’s where i think and it’s interesting because i didn’t know that this was even a thing in like the gambling recovery world but i think this is a really big challenge of 2022 is trying to come to some kind of universal understanding right because these communities of 12-step fellowships they are probably the largest place out there to find a community of people like you that you can identify with that you can feel less you know all by yourself in this problem and yet the the connotation that if you’re not doing it this specific way you’re not completely included even if you’re welcoming to that individual that still feels like well i don’t belong here right or i have to live in a secret life of shame in order to stay here and that’s i think that’s one of our biggest challenges in the recovery community moving forward is figuring out how to navigate that whether that’s different fellowships whether that’s a different way we operate inside of a fellowship i don’t know the answer but it’s really a challenging place to make everybody feel like because the best chance we have at success is having them there right no matter what and it’s like how do we keep them wanting to be there while also you know holding on to i guess people’s standards of what the fellowship is that’s a great question i i wish i had the answer to that too you’re you’re absolutely right i mean it’s a great point i you know they just tell them to keep coming back and you know i know a guy that jumps on the meetings and he gambles he relapses probably three times a week but he just keeps coming back and just keeps saying hey this is an honest program just being honest i gamble today but you’re right you know it’s that having them feel like maybe they don’t belong there you know or they don’t fit in because they’re not totally abstinent it’s it’s a challenge it is a challenge you’re absolutely right so okay i just had a question about the uh you mentioned you’re a certified gambling peer like so we have that of course in recovery as well it’s through uh the university of maryland actually is who handles it for addiction recovery who handles it for gambling and what’s that kind of briefing the same pure certification icrc or whatever it is um same behavioral health board same everything mma bcp yeah i i was forget the nation it’s the same that’s it yeah i have the same same certification as all other peers um i just get this the gambling specific training obviously at my organization and because of my lived experience with problem gambling but i have the same certification as every other peer across the state awesome so if someone wanted to engage in becoming a gambling peer they would just sort of start on that same track and then they can get candidates it’s all the same trainings okay exact same thing same certification great well we’re uh we’re coming up against time and this has been an incredible episode i want to leave a little space here for anything that you wanted to say on this episode that we didn’t quite ask about or any more websites or resources or phone numbers that you wanted to list so that people can be aware or you know find help for this so it’s your it’s your show for the next few minutes you guys covered a lot of bases you had a you asked a lot of great questions i think we covered a lot you know the main thing is just if you think your gambling’s become a problem you know um just snip it in the bud you know and um call out there is help available you know and um the 1-800-522-4700 www.ncpgambling.org

just reach out for help and you know like we said if maybe you’re not even looking to stop gambling completely that’s understandable but you know maybe maybe find an addictions counselor look on the website look up ncpg there’s also counselors by state as well on that website maybe find a counselor and work towards harm reduction just don’t let it get out of control because there is an invisible line that you can cross just like with drugs and alcohol once you cross that invisible line it can really it can really get ugly and i just don’t want to see anybody cross that invisible line that doesn’t have to you know we don’t have i think we get to choose our bottoms you know and um we don’t have to hit a severe bottom to get help or at least start addressing the issue i think the one lingering thought i’m gonna be left with from this is that because every time uh you know someone with problem gambling goes to a casino or participates in that behavior they’re funding free treatment for when they’re ready that if we legalize drugs we could also have that same idea every time someone uses drugs they could be funding free treatment we do it’s called pharmaceutical industry

all right a lot of people on substance abuse they say like why isn’t there free treatment for that you know well the pharmaceutical companies make plenty of money on us they don’t need to well there you go they should be funding treatment well it has been a pleasure to have you on thank you for coming on and informing us and the audience man uh you know to know more about this gambling problem and and uh what they can do about seeking help man thank you so much for your time today yes thank you jason and billy enjoyed it all right have a good day have a great day you too good luck at softball hey thank you i appreciate it bye guys see you did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoveryswordof.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up with us on facebook twitter instagram reddit youtube anything we’re always looking for new ideas got an idea you want us to look into reach out to us