Gambling occurs any time money or something of value is bet on an object or event with an uncertain outcome. Problem gambling exists when the activity affects relationships, family, friends, social and mental health, employment and finances. Pathological gambling was accepted as a mental disorder in 1980.
Lawyers are at an increased risk of problem and pathological gambling because of access to trust funds and client monies. Many lawyers set unrealistic and unreasonable goals for themselves – expectations to be financially successful and other related pressures can lead to addictive behaviours.
There are many types of gambling. Legal gambling has seen a significant increase since casinos and slot machines became available. Legal gambling includes lotteries, casino games, bingo, scratch tickets, sports lotteries and internet gambling.
Many people, besides the gambler, are affected by problem gambling. It is important that family members affected get help as well. LAP will help make the connections required to provide assistance – such as providing information about self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous.
Remorse: the gambler must demonstrate genuine evidence of regret and remorse for past misdeeds and misconduct. Acknowledgement is paramount to remorse.
Repentance: the addicted person must demonstrate what changes for the better are being made as a result of the misconduct.
Restitution: the gambler must make a detailed and structured plan for repayment of debts. (Gamblers Anonymous has a format for this process.)
Rehabilitation: there must be a commitment to actively participate in rehabilitation including professional counselling and self-help groups.
Recovery: the person must be willing to document and demonstrate the type of lifestyle changes that are to be implemented to prevent relapse and return to gambling.
Problem gambling is very difficult to detect because of the level of denial. It is referred to as the silent addiction because there is no visible evidence (no smell of alcohol, no physical deterioration) of the problem.
There are many resources to help treat this disease. Professional help and self help groups are very important parts of the process. Family members, business associates, partners and professional colleagues may also need assistance. Please call LAPBC for assistance and advice about the next steps to take.