Gambling Addicts Seduced By Growing Casino Accessibility

Why millions of Americans are trapped in financial and emotional despair.

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On the mend. After going to rehab for alcoholism and undergoing outpatient treatment and private therapy for gambling, Adell reclaimed not only her health but her sense of self-worth. "My addictions were a deadly combination," she says. "Over time, though, I learned how to take control of my life."

To prevent relapse, Adell takes measures to keep her mind off gambling. While driving in some parts of town, she shuts the radio off so she doesn't hear ads for nearby casinos. She flips the channel if a casino's commercial pops up on the TV. She also takes to outdoor activities, like hiking, instead of seeking comfort at a slot machine.

[See 10 Signs You Shop Too Much.]

Other former gambling addicts rely on family to help keep their demons at bay. For example, their spouse may only let them use cash and require they provide receipts for all purchases. Unfortunately, as Whyte points out, this strategy has limits. "Restricting access to money is a crude way to prevent relapse, but it's not perfect," he says. "You can gamble with credit, and many gambling addicts can get a credit card without their spouse knowing about it."

Avoiding setbacks. Compulsive gambling can take a toll on one's finances and emotions. And like any addiction, those who've kicked problem gambling must monitor their behavior to keep their thoughts and behaviors in check. Otherwise, they may end up like Thomas Koch.

After gambling away close to $2.5 million of a client's money, the 46-year-old lawyer from Greenfield, Wis., said at his own sentencing playing the slots was like "the greatest drug there ever was."

National Problem Gambling Helpline: 1-800-522-4700

http://www.gamblersanonymous.org