I have a unique perspective on the various issues that accompany compulsive gambling after 16 years of working with problem gamblers and their families.
With the explosion of casinos, gambling is the new kid on the block. So is gambling addiction. Currently there’s limited public awareness of compulsive gambling and gambling addiction. In certain areas of the country there’s limited access to gambling treatment and not enough advocates for prevention and treatment.
On the plus side, I have seen improvement in the quality and amount of available services for those who have gambling problems. Research into the cause of gambling addiction is in the early stages.
Today, most states have funds available for problem gambling hotlines, treatment and prevention. Initial awareness of problem gambling and the need for treatment was brought to the forefront by grassroot organizations most often created by those who were in recovery from gambling addiction.
From Addictions Specialist to Gambling Treatment Specialist
My own journey as a gambling treatment specialist began in 1996 after years of working with chemical dependency, adult children of alcoholics and recovering adolescents. That year, a proposition had been passed that mandated treatment in conjunction with the establishment of three land-based casinos within the city of Detroit. The State of Michigan advertised for therapists interested in working with gamblers.
After a year of training and supervision, in 1998 I received my certification as a Nationally Certified Gambling Counselor I (NCGCI) and was one of the first therapists on the state panel. Until my relocation to Arizona in 2003, I treated gamblers in the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital System and in my private practice in Ann Arbor. After I relocated to Arizona in 2003, I continued my work with compulsive gamblers and their families. I received my certification as a Nationally Certified Gambling Counselor II (NCGCII).
I learned a lot in those early years, and I am so grateful to my clients who provided insights into compulsive gambling that one could not get from a textbook or from the excellent workshops that I attended during and after my training. I am thankful for the support of my personal mentor, Dr. Lori Rugle, and to Joanna Franklin, NCGC-II, BACC and Deborah Haskins, NCGC-II, BACC who are all pioneers in the field of gambling addiction. They encouraged me to stretch and grow.
Most of all, I owe a debt of gratitude to my clients who have allowed me into their lives, one day at a time.