From time to time, clients will ask me for a referral of good book about gambling. I’m in the process of developing a comprehensive resource list of gambling books for the gambler and those impacted by gambling.
In the meantime, I’d like to recommend my all-time favorite book about gambling, Behind the 8-Ball: A Recovery Guide for Families of Gamblers, by Linda Berman, MSW, LCSW and Mary-Ellen Siegel, MSW, LCSW. I was introduced to this book in 1997, and it was the first book I read while training to become a nationally certified gambling counselor.
As a part of our ongoing training, Michigan therapists were introduced to Linda Berman in a workshop she conducted after the book’s 1998 revision. I found Linda to be pragmatic and enthusiastic. She displayed a wealth of knowledge and insight about gambling addiction and effective gambling treatment methods. She offered encouragement to us newly fledgling therapists.
Linda and her co-author, Mary-Ellen Siegel, were pioneers in the field of gambling and gambling treatment. Mary-Ellen has firsthand experience as the former wife of a gambler. Her experiences somehow led her to Linda, and they collaborated to write this book. It was originally printed in 1992, revised in 1998, and again in 2008.
Behind the 8-Ball contains a wealth of helpful information such as recognizing symptoms of gambling and surviving after the secret has been revealed. The book also includes what recovery will look like for the gambler. It lists resources in the U.S. and Canada.
Written in simple and easy-to-understand language, it is a good accompaniment to therapy. While the subtitle and cover of the book say that this book is meant for families of gamblers, gamblers themselves have found it to be helpful.
It is also a helpful resource for family members trying to determine if they are involved with someone who gambles too much. For instance, there is a list of 27 questions that the authors say “may seem unrelated to gambling. That’s because the clues to gambling are often subtle. Some gamblers may exhibit a number of these traits, and others only a few.”
What makes the book so easy to read are the stories that the authors have included. These are based on their own experience in treating gamblers and their family members.
According to testimonials on the book’s cover, Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, said that this book continues to be the “standard reference for family members of gamblers.”