Interview with Dr. James Follman, Gambling Addiction Recovery Specialist in
DR. FOLLMAN, WHEN DO YOU KNOW THAT GAMBLING HAS BECOME A PROBLEM?
It’s causing problems when you’re chasing losses... Returning to casinos trying to recoup what you’ve lost from the day before or even that night. You’re now having serious financial problems... spending money you don’t have.
You’re even looking at gambling as the solution to your financial problems. It becomes a vicious circle.
There is a gambler’s fallacy that goes like this. ‘I just need to hit that jackpot which will resolve all my financial problems’ that gambling created.
It’s like drugs. You develop a tolerance. You have to spend more money to get the same effect. It’s like an alcoholic who loses control of his drinking and can’t stop.
For other people, when they’ve suffered setbacks gambling, they stop. They say ‘That’s enough for me!’
On the other hand the problem gambler can’t stop. He becomes fixated. He doesn’t gamble to win money. He loves being in the game. When he runs out of money, he’s upset because he has to stop. Ultimately, he doesn’t care whether he wins or loses; it’s playing the game that counts.
The thought that something good is about to happen makes him euphoric. The thought that ‘I’m going to get that card; that big payoff’ is what keeps him going.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES THAT YOU’VE SEEN FROM PROBLEM GAMBLING?
I’ve seen people clean out their checking and savings account. I’ve also seen people who have come here who have taken out credit cards, try to disguise that they’ve done that to their families, and ran huge debts.
The average amount of debt of the people that have come here to Follman Agency to address this issue is about $20,000. Of course, there have been some in the six-figures.
There are often legal-related issues that compound the problem. Embezzlement. Divorce is a big one. Bankruptcy court. For some alcohol and DUI’s have added to the misery.
WHAT’S TREATMENT LIKE FOR THE PROBLEM GAMBLER?
We have to address the gambler’s fallacy that ‘Gambling is the solution to my problem!’
We have to focus on stopping the urges to gamble. Relapse is always lurking. Sometimes when a problem gambler have some time, a month or two of not gambling, the thought can pop out, ‘ I’ve got it under control. I deserve a little fun.’
Remember that if they experience success they keep going. If they lose, they keep going. There is no hope, no resolution. As someone once said after going through the experience I described, ‘I was ahead. I thought I was going to win big and take that money and pay off all my debts.’ Instead, he is further down the financial hole.
I also encourage healthy self-reward in treatment. For example, I had a woman who came in to see me. On her way home from work, she would stop in the casino. Before long, she was $12,000 in debt resulting in financial and family problems. Here’s what we did.
First, she got rid of all of her credit cards.
Secondly, she had herself banned from the casinos.
Third, her husband came in to treatment with her and agreed to take over the family finances. She signed up for direct deposit at work and he administered the bills, payments, etc.
Fourth, with every $1,000 that they paid to their debt, they set aside $300. towards a family vacation for a couple of weeks in
SINCE PROBLEM GAMBLING USUALLY RESULTS IN INDIVIDUALS LOSING THEIR MONEY HOW CAN THEY AFFORD TREATMENT?
That’s a great question. Thankfully, the State of
In addition, that fund also includes the spouse who is often impacted by the actions of the problem gambler.
If anyone is interested in