Sunday, September 9, 2018

Post 109

September is Recovery Month … for the others too!

Why do I need to attend a meeting?  I’m not the one who lost our savings.  I don’t keep all hours of the night in unknown places.  I go to family gatherings and certainly don’t miss important events!  Lies, lies, lies: that’s all I hear!  Commonly, these are the thoughts and words spoken by the others – family members and friends impacted by a love one’s disordered gambling.  They are often expressed when a person attends their first few meetings of Gam-Anon – the support organization for family and friends of problem gamblers.

Of course!  Anger, fear, anxiety, denial and even guilt, sadly, have taken over those highly impacted by the addiction of a loved one or close associate.  Most likely, reality in their world is deeply changed from what it had been.  A stranger has now entered the relationship.  Communication is strained, guarded, and often filled with two-way accusations.  Addiction’s illness orchestrates their lives.  The gambler’s compulsion has to bet.  The others obsess over the known and unknown dangers of instability and distrust.  Will their lives ever return to “normal” again?

The others upon first attending the fellowship of Gam-Anon may be shocked to hear folks talking about their individual recoveries: that is, recovery from living a life filled with fear, anger, denial, and guilt.  The members speak, instead, of serenity, faith in their High Power’s wisdom, and trusting themselves.  There’s acceptance of reality – and courage to forge ahead following the 12 Steps to Recovery. Instead of denying the dangers of ever present addiction, they make tough decisions to preserve their family and their own sanity.  The “what ifs” of an anxiety-ridden world no longer reign in a new one-day-at-a-time present.  The compulsive gambler may live a secret life of addiction; but the Gam-Anon member works his/her program of serenity to deal with the concrete realities of survival and recovery.     

Gam-Anon International Service Office has a treasure trove of great reads for persons impacted by a loved one’s disordered gambling; and their 52 Gam-Anon Meditations is superb!   Check out, email at, or call (718) 352-1671.

One more recommendation:  the Indiana Council on Problem Gambling will be presenting the INDIANA FALL DISORDERED GAMBLING TRAINING EVENT  FOCUSING  ON THE FAMILY on October 24-25 at the Lawrenceburg (Indiana) Event Center.  This is a FREE event offering up to 13 CEU’s.  Keynote speaker is Bea Aikens, founder of  Lanie’s Hope, a national advocacy group dedicated to illuminating and humanizing the disease of disordered gambling.  For registration information, call (317) 632-1364 or e-mail  Registration will be open soon and space is limited for this excellent conference!

May this month of September be RECOVERY month for ALL!


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                       


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

POST 108

For release from the National Council on Problem Gambling:

The [United States of America] Department of Defense generates $100 million each year from the 3,141 slot machines on overseas bases. Slot machines have been outlawed on domestic military installations since 1951. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that as many as 56,000 active duty members of the Armed Forces meet criteria for gambling disorder.

The following article details information about the H.R. 5515: John S. McCain

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019   and the new provision that allows for Gambling Disorder screening.  I am including this for the August 2018 edition of the GRM Blog. 

Gambling Disorder Screening Provision Included in the National Defense Authorization Act 2019

August 14, 2018

CONTACT:  Cait Huble

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, August 13, 2018 President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) that includes a provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction. This has been a top legislative priority for the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) for the past 16 years. Gambling disorder screening questions were included in large scale surveys of active duty personnel throughout the 1990’s until 2002, when the questions were removed. 

Section 733 of the House Armed Services Committee Report 115-874 requires the Department of Defense (DoD) to incorporate medical screening questions specific to gambling disorder in the next annual periodic health assessment conducted by the Department as well as in the Health Related Behaviors Surveys of Active-Duty and reserve component service members. The Secretary of Defense is required to submit a report to Congress on the findings of the assessment and surveys in connection with the prevalence of gambling disorder among service members.

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte said “Previous DoD surveys have found active duty personnel are two to three times more likely to have gambling problems than civilians. Better detection of gambling problems improves overall health and reduces social costs. Undetected gambling addiction exacerbates substance use disorders, depression and suicidal behavior.”

Whyte continued “NCPG strongly believes military personnel need and deserve effective gambling addiction prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, research, responsible gaming and recovery services. With the provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction, championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, we take a vital step to improving the lives of service members and their families.”

The DoD generates $100 million each year from the 3,141 slot machines on overseas bases. Slot machines have been outlawed on domestic military installations since 1951. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates that as many as 56,000 active duty members of the Armed Forces meet criteria for gambling disorder.

About the National Council on Problem Gambling

NCPG is the national advocate for problem gamblers and their families. NCPG is neutral on legalized gambling and works with all stakeholders to promote responsible gaming. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call or text the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-522-4700 or visit  for confidential help.

To schedule an interview with Keith Whyte, please contact Cait Huble at 202-360-4560 or .

After reviewing this information, I have one very basic question: If gambling disorder is indicated [and obviously from previous statistics, it will be], what are the next  nonpunitive  steps to be taken by the Department of Defense?
In other words, what responsibility/obligation will the DoD assume and implement to care for and assist personnel into recovery?  


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                      

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

POST 107


Doing a bit of de-cluttering this summer, I ran across a one-week devotional that I had written for a Vacation Bible School event many years ago.  Topics explored covered Trust, Giving, Serving, Hope, and Forgiving.  One continued to keep my attention for a number of days: forgiveness.  It’s a common element within the entire recovery process.  Within the 12 Steps program, forgiving speaks loud and clear during Step 5: making amends.  Perhaps, certain others may never forgive us … but we can explore, find, and experience the relief that comes when we make room in our minds and emotions to process hurts and harms in order to attain more peace within.  The following is this devotional … it’s as fresh to me today as it was decades ago!

“I’m mad!  I’m mad too!  My mommy’s going to beat up your mommy!  No, she isn’t, ‘cause my mommy’s going to beat up your mommy first!  The two four-year old girls took one more angry look at one another and then each ran home crying. 

Do these words sound comical to us?  Well, how about the following statements?  I’ll never forget what (s)he did. (S)he hurt me too much.  I’ll never forgive him (her).  Sound familiar?  These are words often used by adults.  Sometimes, I’ll hear snatches of similar conversations in restaurants, meetings, or doctors’ offices.  Always there’s a firmness in the voice – an air of finality: that’s it; subject is over!

The act of forgiving is good for us – Jesus had clear advice about it.  Forgiveness ends grudges [at least, from one person’s perspective].  It gives us another chance to add happier [and healthier] thoughts to our minds.  It helps reduce the negative feelings we may have lived with continuously. 

Sometimes, forgiveness takes awhile to achieve – possibly many years.  When we remember that God forgives us, then it can be easier for us to forgive others.  If we continue to work on this, we will find that – over time – blessings will come with forgiving.”

Reflecting on what I wrote years ago, I ponder the original title.  Are we  forgiven?  At times, there seems to be a block in the way, even to approach the idea of forgiving someone in our lives.  Possibly, we have, knowingly or unknowingly, placed ourselves in the permanent seat of blame within a certain situation.  Yes, perhaps, we truly are/were at fault.  Then too, we might never have been to blame; but our being victimized has played tricks on the memories - and we point the shame finger at ourselves.  This is where Step 2 can enter:  Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living. (Gamblers Anonymous)  This struggle to forgive, sometimes blanketed by shame and blame, somehow gets relegated only to us.  Instead, these are the circumstances to call upon the greater Power to grant us insight and wisdom - and patience with ourselves to grow and learn from the negative experiences. It is essential that we realize – and accept – that we do not have to rely solely on our own power to enter into the process of forgiveness.

As we turn our will and our lives over to the care of his Power greater than ourselves (Step 3: Gamblers Anonymous), we become prepared to face our individual selves and make a moral and financial inventory (Step 4: Gamblers Anonymous)  Whether the offense(s) was/were truly ours OR brought upon us, the task of forgiveness invites and challenges us to see beyond the present. 

Are we forgiven?

How is the Power greater than ourselves leading you in this process?

For what help have you asked this Power?


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO

Founding Director

Gambling Recovery Ministries

For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                      

Friday, May 25, 2018

Post 106



In 1984, the International Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC) program was developed to promote a competency-based certification program for professionals treating problem and pathological gamblers and their families.  The International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (IGCCB) oversees the credential.  IGCCB contracts with the International Council on Problem Gambling to administer the program. 
There are two levels of clinical certification: ICGC-I and ICGC-II.  Counselors must demonstrate a specific number of hours in gambling-specific training, clinical experience treating gamblers, and successful completion of the Certification Examination.  A third designation, BAAC, denotes ICGC-II counselors who have acquired sufficient training, clinical experience, and supervision skills and are approved to provide supervision to ICGC applicants.
ICOGS:  In 2015, the IGCCB introduced the International Co-Occurring Gambling Specialist Certificate.  The ICOGS is specifically designed to be relevant to counselors working with clients with primary substance use and mental health disorders who have co-occurring gambling problems.
CLERGY:  As a new certification program in 2014 implemented by the American Compulsive Gambling Counselor Certification Board, the Clergy/Lay Minister Certification was adopted in 2016 by the newly merged IGCCB (IGCCB with the American Board). The IGCCB provides a process for recognizing and certifying clergy and other faith-based workers who are proficient in gambling addiction prevention, education, awareness, and supportive spiritual outreach, non-clinical care.

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION:   To date, the countries of the United States, Japan, Singapore, and Bermuda are in association with the IGCCB.

BERMUDA … here we come!
In association with the National Council on Problem Gambling, the country of Bermuda is the most recent of IGCCB international connections!  During this past winter, two visits to Bermuda were made by a Team of representatives from both the International Board and the National Council on Problem Gambling. First came the introductory work of meetings, initial trainings for counselors, and exploring the possibility of IGCCB Clergy/Lay Minister Certification to be started.  As a result, the second trip to Bermuda included further clinical trainings – training 50-60 counselors on disordered gambling issues  -  and  the initial Clergy/Lay Minister Modules!  Interestingly, the clergy are often the first point of contact for those struggling with behavioral/health problems/addictions.  Hear the words of a Team Member as she emphasizes the role of the faith community and describes the setting and her experiences, through emails, while implementing the first trainings to this island nation!
Bermuda is like an extended family… the system of care is not like ours in the U.S.  How then can we provide the people with a support system?  They have no GA meetings or Gam-Anon here.  We are trying to get a Helpline in place.
The culture impacts openness to the [IGCCB Clergy/Lay Minister] Training as you all are aware with this being a very religious country and individuals/families/communities not necessarily [being] comfortable with gambling.  I want to tell you that the Training was a success! Went very well!  The folks were really engaged.  A dynamic group!  This group had two out of thirteen pastors and eleven lay persons, with approximately five who were mental health professionals.  They are more than ready for the Certification!
They took me to a play tonight hosted by the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and wouldn’t you know in the script were scenes about the church treasurer who gambled and embezzled church funds!  We loved it and said [it was] right on time – and what a message they sent to this room of close to two-hundred or more watching.  Amazing!
As we continue to expand, there will be new joys in helping others to be the bearers of hope to a hurting world.  I will close with a final word describing the Trainings:
    Spirituality comes through!      [wording from an evaluation of the Module Trainings]

This past March, our Co-Coordinator of the IGCCB Clergy/Lay Minister Certification program past away, peacefully but quite unexpectedly.  Those of you who met Jeff  knew him as the embodiment of recovery.  Whenever Jeff  shared his story, we were  continuously inspired.  Jeff’s joy in life was helping and caring about others.  To students in our Certification classes who would ask if they might ask a question or share an insight, his answer was always, Always!  Jeff never tired of saying that the Clergy/Lay Minister program was a “labor of love”  … and we knew it by his passion for reaching out to extend hope and always help.   The following words are those from the National Council on Problem Gambling website
It is with the greatest sadness that we learned of the death of our colleague and friend, Jeffrey M. Beck, who passed away on March 10 at his home. On behalf of all of us here at the National Council on Problem Gambling, we offer our deepest sympathy to the Beck family and Jeff’s friends and colleagues, who could not have been prepared for this sudden loss.
Jeff was a trailblazer in the problem gambling world.  At the time of his passing, Jeff was employed with The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling, as its Clinical Director. Jeff had previously been Assistant Director of Clinical Services, Research and Treatment at the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey. Jeff practiced law for 18 years before returning to school to get a Masters in Addiction Counseling and completing all course work and qualifying exams for a Ph.D. in Social Work.
He worked at the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey for many years; served on the Board of Directors of the National Council on Problem Gambling from 2009 through 2015, including as vice president; Jeff had been chairman of the Problem Gambling Awareness Month campaign for the last 6 years and served on many NCPG Committees including Help-line, Education, Bylaws, Prevention, Recovery, SPRIG and Affiliates. Jeff was also president of the American Certification Board for many years and vice president of the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board after the merger of the two organizations.
Most importantly, Jeff inspired many people with his intellect, his dedication to recovery, and his compassion.  Jeff was such an extraordinary person, his passing is a truly great loss to the problem gambling community as a whole. He will be profoundly missed by everyone whose lives he touched.
Those who wish to make a donation in Jeff’s memory consider making a gift to NCPG.

There are possibilities for additional sets of  upcoming Trainings.
Contact IGCCB at (202)547-9204 for details and if your area is interested in hosting the Trainings.  REMEMBER!  Any  number of the Modules may be taken, whether you are starting out or if you have missed Module(s) … and, of course, you are welcome to take all four Modules, sequentially.

                             32th  ANNUAL CONFERENCE

July 18-19 Preconference   July 20-21 Conference
Hilton Cleveland Downtown,  Cleveland, Ohio
ALSO:   the National Council on Problem Gambling Calendar has webinars

Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO
Founding Director
Gambling Recovery Ministries
For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit:                                                                                                                                                   

Monday, April 16, 2018

Post 105


Recently, I received a “Class Project” report from one of our candidates for the International Board’s Clergy/Lay Minister Certification in Gambling Addiction Prevention, Education, Awareness and Spiritual Outreach Care.  The packet contained an interesting description of a special program presented to faith leaders about compulsive gambling and recovery, complete with narrative, promotional material, and PowerPoint handout.  Within the PowerPoint, a term caught my eye … the purest addiction is disordered gambling.  Why purest?  Simply put, the gambling itself produces the dopamine chemical response – without any substance (drugs, alcohol, tobacco, food)  ingested.  Of course, I knew this; but such a point-blank statement caused me to rethink the uniqueness of compulsive gambling as an addiction compared to other forms of addiction … hence the topic of this month’s GRM Blog.

To begin, let’s take a look at all of the characteristics that disordered gambling shares with other addictions to classify them as addictive behaviors.  Preoccupation occurs: thoughts about and planning to imbibe predominate over ordinary thinking patterns.  Loss of control is more likely than not.  A tolerance develops so that the person needs more of the substance/activity to achieve the same effect; and there’s a chasing of the first high/win.  When the person cuts back or abstains, withdrawal symptoms take place; but immediate gratification is felt when using to relieve withdrawal symptoms.  There is a use of rituals associated with the behavior, also.

Then too, other factors develop in association with addiction, in general.  There is a loss of spirituality as well as life management skills.  The individual continues to use regardless of the consequences. As a result, family/friends/associates are chronically impacted.  Moreover, treatment and support groups can be of tremendous help in attaining (and maintaining) recovery.

On the flip side, with a focus on disordered gambling (compulsive gambling, gambling addiction, problem gambling), we see a distinct form of addiction.  Let’s remember, also, that the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) designates compulsive gambling as an addiction – the only addiction not dependent on ingesting/inhaling a substance.  What unique characteristics of disordered gambling, then contribute to the development of an addiction minus co-morbid substance abuse behavior?  Obviously, winning (not just money) results in gain, usually a desired attainment.  It feels good to win!  There’s a rush of excitement … a turn of good luck.  The brain remembers!  If  the opportunity to possibly win presents itself soon, the brain recalls those feelings.  The outcome is unpredictable but there’s always a chance – especially (one may think) if it’s a near-win. Thus the near encourages predictability (a false sense of) and, therefore, increased excitement. Subsequently, fantasies of success in winning impact the person to continue the gambling.

Also, gambling – compared to substance abuse - is not self-limiting.  Gambling, by itself, does not cause intoxication.  No diagnostic medical test can detect pathological gambling. The gambler is not obviously impaired - in turn setting up more time devoted to gamble. Then too, without overt indications of addiction, the compulsive gambler can take on an appearance of normalcy and sharp-mindedness.  Only as the individual sinks deeper into addiction will loved ones and associates begin to notice certain behaviors indicating withdrawal, etc. 

With few or no outward hints of addictive behavior, the gambler with his/her secret addiction will become adept at hiding evidences of mounting unpaid bills and time lost in legitimate activity.  For the gambler, there tends to be greater denial, stronger defenses, and much higher amounts of financial difficulties.

Furthermore, the swiftness of addiction-progression uniquely marks disordered gambling.  Many gambling venues offer multiple and/or instant winning possibilities, thus commonly creating situations to gamble repeatedly in a short amount of time.  Often with such quick progression, the reality of addiction is baffling to the gambler – and to the loved ones, as well.

Finally, from the viewpoint of the gambler’s loved ones, a single question of the 20 Questions Is There a Gambling Problem in Your Family? stands out as unique to those impacted by compulsive gambling.  Pointedly, this question – so characteristic of disordered gambling – does not describe other addictions:  Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?  (Gam-Anon International Service Office)   

With all of this said, however, it is important to note that, definitely, there are established co-morbid behaviors associated with gambling and substance abuse.  The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. cites that smoking is a powerful reinforcement for the trance-inducing rituals associated with gambling (Harper, 2003).  Additionally, it is known that some gamblers use cocaine to keep themselves awake and alert in order to gamble for multi-hour mega-stretches.  Then too, excess alcohol usage can lower gamblers’ inhibitions while gambling.

Though gambling addiction can have devastating effects on both individuals and loved ones  – and is commonly misunderstood by the public – there is both help and hope.  Call 1-800-GAMBLER (or check the websites below) for treatment; and/or for recovery help and support call  Gamblers Anonymous 1-626-960-3501 or Gam-Anon 1-718-352-1671.


Rev. Janet Jacobs, CCGSO                                                                                                                    

Founding Director                                                                                                                                  

Gambling Recovery Ministries
For more information on problem gambling and recovery issues, visit: