Orlando, FL (April 5, 2011) –
Consider the irony: Compulsive gamblers often need professional treatment to combat their addiction. But in many cases, their addiction to gambling puts them so far in debt, they cannot afford professional help.
Dr. William Ganaway, a counselor to problem gamblers in North Palm Beach, has treated patients who ravaged their life savings to such a devastating degree, they contemplated suicide because they felt it was the only way out.
Now, thanks to a historic new program, money isn’t a barrier to treatment for problem gamblers or their loved ones. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) this week announced the launch of the Recovery Path Treatment Program, which provides problem gamblers in Florida with the opportunity to receive treatment services designed for their particular needs – regardless of their ability to pay. Loved ones also have access to Recovery Path, even if the compulsive gambler is not yet ready to seek treatment.
“The average debt of gamblers who called our HelpLine last year was nearly $63,000, so for them treatment just seems out of reach, even though they are the ones most in need of help,” says Pat Fowler, Executive Director of the FCCG. “Recovery Path is bringing treatment within their reach, giving them an opportunity to get professional help and begin their path to a life free of gambling.”
That was the case for Justin, a former restaurant manager from Tampa whose addiction to scratch-off Lottery tickets nearly cost him his family and put him at risk of incarceration for embezzlement. It wasn’t until he found the right counselor through the FCCG that he finally was able to overcome his illness.
“Within a month of seeing the counselor we involved my wife. In August, we moved back in together, my wife and two daughters,” says Justin, who now works for a software company that helps prevent compulsive gamblers from accessing gambling sites from home computers or laptops “We just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. It has been just truly a wonderful thing. I couldn’t be happier.”
The launch of Recovery Path is a significant step in FCCG’s ongoing efforts to educate the public, policymakers, educators, businesses, mental health service providers, criminal justice professionals, and others about the adverse effects of gambling as well as available treatment and other resources.
While the state has provided funding for many years for public awareness, education and prevention of compulsive gambling resulting in nationally recognized programs, these funds could not be utilized for treatment. Now, with Recovery Path, treatment is accessible and affordable. The FCCG can now direct problem gamblers or their loved ones to the treatment they need to begin their recovery.
Callers to the 24-hour HelpLine are matched with treatment counselors in FCCG’s network of State and Nationally Certified Gambling Treatment Professionals. All of FCCG’s HelpLine referral providers are certified in gambling addiction.
These treatment providers say the launch of Recovery Path comes at a critical time for the state, as problem gambling is on the rise – a trend that affects more than 1 million Floridians directly and indirectly.
“When news about the new treatment program began to spread, especially in Gambler's Anonymous, I received a number of inquiries and subsequent admissions for treatment,” says Dr. Ganaway, one of the FCCG’s treatment providers. “One patient, a 52-year-old female, was desperate, depressed and was considering suicide. After two months in treatment she is stable, more productive at work, and addressing her $150,000 credit card debt and other financial issues. She actually smiles a lot more now. Treatment works!”
According to statistics from calls to the FCCG HelpLine:
· Over the past five years, there has been a 64 percent increase in calls for information or assistance with a gambling problem.
· As reported by callers, the average debt of the gambler was reported to be $62,990.
· Almost one third of the gamblers (32 percent) had committed illegal acts in order to obtain money to gamble with.
· Statistics show that 81 percent of the gamblers suffer from anxiety and 83 percent from depression, while 11 percent are experiencing suicidal thoughts or had previous attempts.
Problem gamblers or loved ones interested in learning more about Recovery Path are encouraged to call the 24-hour confidential, multilingual HelpLine at 1-888-ADMIT-IT.