The Casino in Your Pocket
March 14, 2017
Across the addiction arena, the goal of most recovery programs is abstinence.
(We obviously understand certain addictions are excluded from the abstinence goal, such as food addictions.)
Take, for example, Russell Brand. The English actor had quite a long history with substance abuse. Due to his outlandish nature, it is hard to totally rule out that he didn’t spend some of his screen time under the influence.
Brand has now been sober for a decade and wants to help other people struggling with addiction. Part of helping people with addiction is empowering them to take hold of their own recovery. While everyone’s path to recovery is a little different, there are some common themes.
Most people need to set limits in how they interact with their vice. Take alcohol for example; individuals who struggle with drinking most certainly need to avoid alcohol. Ever see someone who starts recovery? The opening act in their recovery story is a systematic purge of all liquor, beer, and wine from their household.
Want to derail an alcoholic’s recovery efforts?
Take ‘em to your nearby bar.
From a clinical standpoint, one of the first things addiction counselors do with their clients is set up a plan (usually using a strengths based model) on how the individual can successfully sustain from their affliction.
(Names changed to protect confidentially)
Take Joe for example.
Joe is a problem gambler who has blown many paychecks at his local casino, which is conveniently on his commute home from work. One of the first things his counselor (Mary) did with Joe was set up a plan to avoid the casino, especially on paydays.
The casino represented temptation. After much discussion, Joe agreed that on paydays, he would take the long way home and instead make a date night with his wife.
The problem with this story is it was 8 years ago.
Today, technology has changed the landscape of gambling. Despite all of Joe’s efforts, he couldn’t avoid the temptation.
But it wasn’t the casino that gave him problems.
Gambling was the center dash of his car, it was on his nightstand as he slept. Gambling was on his work desk as he plugged away at his accounting job.
The problem for Joe is, that there is a casino in his pocket. (Thanks modern smartphone).
Joe enjoyed a mild run of success; a time period of about 6 years of no gambling.
Joe went to counseling.
Joe went to meetings.
Joe did not go to the casino.
Instead, the casino came to him.
About two years ago, Joe downloaded DraftKings and started playing fantasy sports. What started off as casually playing fantasy football, quickly spiraled into playing all types of games.
Everything from MMA, to MLB, to NBA—Joe bet on it all.
Joe’s smartphone functions as part phone, part supercomputer, and part mobile casino.
Technology has completely changed the way people gamble. The ease and access made it dangerous for Joe.
Joe fell back into his old habits.
To learn more about how technology has been impacting the world of problem gambling, visit our Problem Gambling Awareness Month web page by clicking here.