Security Concerns and Treatment for Compulsive Gambling
Gambling debts may compromise one’s financial stability, cause problems with family and work, and prompt some individuals to engage in illegal activities, including espionage, as a means of covering their losses. Motivation for espionage is usually complex and difficult to assess, but financial pressures from gambling debts have clearly played a significant role in the cases of at least seven Americans who have been arrested for espionage.
By the time most compulsive gamblers seek help, they are hugely in debt, owing as much as 0,000 or more, and their families are in a shambles. About 80% seriously consider suicide, and 13 to 20% actually attempt it or succeed in killing themselves.
Three studies of Gamblers Anonymous members and persons in treatment for compulsive gambling determined that roughly two-thirds admitted to committing crimes or civil fraud to finance their gambling or to pay gambling-related debts. The white-collar crimes of fraud, embezzlement, forgery, and tax evasion predominate among those whose employment and economic status present the opportunity for such crimes.
Another study focused on how problem gambling affects the insurance industry. It found that in a group of 241 Gamblers Anonymous members, 47% admitted to having engaged in some form of insurance fraud, embezzlement or arson.
Treatment for Compulsive Gambling
Like other addictive behaviors, compulsive gambling is treatable. Many problem gamblers are reluctant to seek treatment, however, as they do not understand the nature of the addiction involved. People understand being out of control from putting some kind of substance in their body. Being out of control due to a supposedly voluntary behavior such as gambling damages one’s self-esteem so much that people are extremely reluctant to seek help.
Gamblers Anonymous follows the same pattern as Alcoholics Anonymous, including the same 12-step treatment program. The success rate appears comparable to that for other addictions. Relapse is a problem, but one or two relapses do not necessarily indicate failure. The more severe the gambling problem prior to treatment, the greater the chance of relapse and eventual treatment failure.
Compulsive gamblers frequently also suffer from other addictions such as alcoholism, drug abuse, compulsive shopping or bulimia. Some evidence indicates that individuals with multiple addictions are more difficult to treat than those who suffer from a single addiction. Doctors at some treatment centers have observed a “switching of addictions,” where recovering alcoholics begin to gamble compulsively after several years of abstinence from alcohol. Similarly, women recovering from compulsive gambling have encountered problems with compulsive shopping.