Jul 24, 2013
'Biggest Addiction in Frum World'

Arnie Wexler, one of the foremost experts on compulsive gambling, says gaming is one of the "biggest addictions" in the frum world.

Arnie Wexler, a Certified Compulsive Gambling Counselor (CCGC), is one of the foremost experts on compulsive gambling in the United States.

He has spent the last 40 years, training hundreds of addiction professionals on compulsive gambling, and has personally assisted countless addicts in their journey to recovery. He is currently at Recovery Road Treatment Centers in Palm Beach Gardens Florida.

This interview was held at the 2nd Annual Jewish Recovery Center Retreat and Shabbaton in Boca Raton, Florida.

Find out more at JewishRecoveryCenter.com

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Opinions and Comments
not surprised
Apparently, private poker parties are all over the place round here. Add to that the "glamor" of a Lubavitcher winning close to half a million dollars in a poker competition & everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon & make a fortune. We have a serious problem with gambling, which begs the question....are some of the families in CH we are asked to help in financial trouble because of gambling? If so, it's really bad.
(7/24/2013 12:04:03 PM)
It's All About The Money!!
It's not an 'addiction' to gambling, otherwise they could gamble for fun or for prizes. It's about getting the money!!! Face it. Yidden worship cash! Remember the Golden Rule: The one with the gold, rules!!!
(7/24/2013 12:06:04 PM)
i was in atlantic city
and saw a chassidish man (looked like he was from Boro Park or Williamsberg) and HIS WIFE there at the casino! was a bit surprised to see her there.
(7/24/2013 12:16:36 PM)
Good news ! i know of someone who spends nights in a casino.
(7/24/2013 12:36:55 PM)
Ex wife of compulsive gambler
12 step Meetings are crucial for recovery. If the guy doesn't keep his 3 meetings a week he will relapse continue lying stealing etc. personally I still have feelings for my ex and would've stayed with him had he not blamed me for his addiction and skip meetings.he never lasted too long in Ga. How can a woman live this way?! Never knowing where ur husband is, having him run back to Atlantic city also known as "sin city" every time he is ticked off or mad. Like Arnie said its a secret but destroying addiction. Kol HAKOVOD to any woman who can stay married living with the unpredictability of being evicted penniless etc. my ex left me in a very poor state financially and emotionally.I lost respect from the people he robbed money from. Lots of damage came about. The worst thing is he continues to blame and never owns up to his issues
As arnie said we need more support from frum community
(7/24/2013 1:00:57 PM)
Do the experts recognize that stock trading / day trading is also gambling ? Families are destroyed, homes are lost, and the gambler is in total denial because " it's only stocks" so they think it's kosher. If the computer is always on following the markets , if the mortgage and the food isn't being paid for because every spare dollar goes into the next big stock, then wake up and smell the coffee.- you're an addict & get help today, for your sake & for the sake of your family.
(7/24/2013 1:46:11 PM)
to number 6
relax. the answer is yes. the stock market is another form of gambling. noone will deny that (unless they are in serious denial). mr wexler will definitely not deny that...
(7/24/2013 3:46:07 PM)
I Am a Marijuana addict.
I was stoned for about 4 and a half years.
I hit my rock bottom and BH found Marijuana Anonymous.
My Life has changed for the good BH. i have been sober for the past two years plus. I am a father of four Bh.
People really don't understand the concept of Addiction. addiction is a disease. people are addicted to many different things and they don't have control over it until they recognize that it's a real problem. To all you addicts, Remember, ONE DAY AT A TIME.
(7/24/2013 3:58:20 PM)
Get on the bus
Just look at the number of Chinese auctions that occur in the frum world and in Lubavitch specifically. Now there are even auctions for children to buy the tickets themselves. This is also a pernicious form of gambling. But somehow these auctions are considered acceptable because they raise money for institutions.
(7/24/2013 4:12:34 PM)
Our sages have always looked down at gambling.

- According to Mishna, people who gamble are unfit to serve as witnesses in a Jewish court.

-In Gemara Sanhedrin there is a debate about whether gambling is a form of theft, for the loser never really anticipates parting with his money and never really accepts the loss.

-The same Gemara posits that gamblers contribute nothing of value to society, and for that reason alone, should not be looked at kindly.

Point is, gambling of all sorts - whether horse-racing, poker, slots, day-trading, excessive lottery playing etc, has always been frown upon by people who were a lot smarter than you and I.
(7/24/2013 4:20:28 PM)
It's not illegal, It's just frowned upon like Yankelating on an airplane
(7/24/2013 4:27:36 PM)
to # 5
You need Al-Anon which is for family members.No, u did not cause nor cure anyone with an addiction.They need to want recovery as much as they want to drink, gamble, etc. A woman who stays with a destructive partner at the expense of her children and future is simply co-dependent and addicted to her spouse with the addiction.I can understand being supportive and caring but if he/she cannot help themselves, then it is time to rescue YOURSELF and your Family!!!!!!That's the healthy thing to do so don't applaud women who stay with "sickness".!!
(7/24/2013 4:49:03 PM)
To 3
What a weird comment. What were YOU doing there? Why do you think its more OK for you to be there than that guy ... or his wife?
(7/24/2013 5:34:19 PM)
I know gambling is a major problem, but drinking and smoking are far bigger and worse.
(7/24/2013 5:37:32 PM)
to #3
And what were you doing there??
(7/24/2013 7:36:50 PM)
Chinese Auctions
i wonder if he knows about all the chinese auctions that go on in CH. If he did would they top his list? For some, it's a good opportunity to give Tzedaka but for others it's a way to spend lots of money they don't have in the hopes of winning a new Sheitel that they can't afford. Hey, at least with gambling you can win some real cash!
(7/24/2013 7:53:48 PM)
better than other addiction
Drug addictions and shmutz addictions are a heck of a lot worse. Not that two wrongs make a right but just sayin
(7/24/2013 8:44:37 PM)
to #17
You are right that in essence the 2 addictions you mentioned are more damaging, but i think the point he is trying to make is that those 2 addictions are more deplorable.

When someone has either of those problems, the demand for them to get help of more clear and universal. It's a no brainier as no women would stay married to such a man with such a bad habit.

But gambling is not seen as such a grave and destructing addiction and spouses tend to relate to it in a more mild manner (maybe hoping that he will win big one day and stop forever - which is an illusion)

So in that sense, the illness you have but are not aware of is worse than the illness you know about and deal with. In the words of Chazal: Knowing your illness if half the road to recovery.

Hatzlacha rabba to all who are trying to become better people (I would argue that screaming at home is an bad habit/addiction of sorts as well, but that's already a whole other topics)
(7/24/2013 9:06:37 PM)
to #2
it's not all about the money. i grew up with a gambling addicted farther and what it's really about,as with all addiction,is the rush.
(7/24/2013 9:25:14 PM)
to #5
blaming others is a very strong component of addiction. it's a common mistake to say kol hakavod or to call saints/tzadikim those who go on and on suffering with an addicted family member.in fact they're inabelers and are helping no one.
(7/24/2013 9:31:30 PM)
Where to find the right help?
Going thru this now. Can someone post real info about where to get help for double addiction (alchohol and gambling). Who to call, talk to, etc. I am the spouse drowning and don't know where to turn.
(7/24/2013 9:54:17 PM)
If you click on the link right under the video (JewishRecoveryCenter.com) it will take you to their homepage - when you click on "Contact" you will see both a phone number & an email address to contact Rabbi Kessler. Rabbi Kessler could certainly also give you contact info for Arnie Kessler who seems to live in New Jersey. Write to the Rebbe tonight for a brocha & GO FOR IT !!!!
(7/24/2013 10:16:24 PM)
To 21:
nycalanon.org would be a great place for you to find the help you need. There are plenty of frum women and men in all 12 step programs. Rabonim advise that it is permissible to go in to a church to attend a meeting. What can be bigger proof to the severity of the disease of addiction? Best of luck through your trying times!
(7/24/2013 10:34:12 PM)
post 21
You can call the Jewish Recovery Center
(7/24/2013 10:43:37 PM)
GA meetings
Gamblers Anonymous meetings are were to start. Gamanon meetings for the wife of a compulsive gambler. It is crucial to support emotionaly while going to these meetings. It is very difficult to succeed without a proper support system in place.
Never bail out a compulsive gambler. It will enable him to get worse with his addiction.
Slowly the drum world are accepting of the 12 step programs and recovery. In the past people would look up to active gamblers but look down at the ones going to meetings trying to build a better life. I applaud this great article which helps bring more awareness in the drum world about this addiction.
(7/24/2013 11:56:31 PM)
They gamble to get $ to pay yeshiva
(7/25/2013 12:22:27 AM)
to post #21
there is an organization called safe foundation in brooklyn, here is the link to there website.
(7/25/2013 8:42:55 AM)
#14 and #17
There's no such thing as a worse addiction; it depends on the person. A gambling addiction can be just as damaging to the person and the family as substance abuse or a "shmutz" addiction. At the end of the day, and addiction is an addiction, there is no better or worse. And, sadly, gambling doesn't get as much publicity because people don't think it's "that bad", well let me tell you, It IS "that bad." Gamblers love the rush of not knowing if their going to win and have a lot of on the line and that releases dopamine. This sounds exactly like any other addiction to me!
(7/25/2013 9:45:09 AM)
Risk averse?
Unfortunately, some people are addicted to risk. There is a feeling of power or specialness in thinking you somehow beat the system.

I have a brother who unfortunately thinks this way. No regard for consequences; I can't figure out if he either doesn't comprehend or simply doesn't care.
(7/25/2013 10:50:07 AM)
It's not gambling when you know you're gonna win.
Most frum people simply do not have the ability to understand addictions. We let our judgementalness take over and collectively arrive at our own conclusions.

Former gambler
(7/25/2013 12:04:51 PM)
maybe since eveyone got so sensitive
It says here we should work in teams.
(7/25/2013 12:09:39 PM)
Either way
You need to be super smart to count cards, someone should tell than to rain man. He nearly bankrupt a casino.
(7/25/2013 12:33:46 PM)
thank you to #8
i needed to read everything you wrote. i'm a marijuana addict too. i just don't want to put it down. i have so much personal pain that i justify my frequent smoking. i'm a parent too, with 6 kids B"H
(7/25/2013 1:33:33 PM)
Mr Arnie Wexler
For those who are interested in reaching Mr Wexler directly
can call us at The JRC at 561 450 5503
(7/25/2013 2:20:26 PM)
to #2
Don't just say stuff without thinking. Gambling addictions start for various reasons some for the need to make money like you said,there are others which are addicted to gambling purely for the thrill and i'm talking about millionaires they will tell you they do it for the feeling of taking a risk even though they don't need the money at all.
(7/25/2013 4:58:47 PM)
Nobody really cares
Not all people who play cards are gamblers and not all people who use drugs, or like some people like to call it "shmootz", are drug addicts. Not all people that don't use drugs are not drug addicts. It's a personality type that was usually triggered by certain events and conditionings that led the person to use whatever to not deal. It's a coping mechanism, or as some would like to call it; a medication.

Anything in life can be used in the wrong way. I know many people that their regular 9-5 would be considered a drug. I too know many people that use Lubavitch, or their level of religion, as a drug. Yes, religion can be used as a drug.

It's not what one uses, it's why. For many, had they not found drugs or whatever vice they were using to cope, they likely would have been long dead by now.

The greater issue at hand has a lot to do with how people are raised in these communities. If they were going to school against their own will. If they were being forced to participate in religious activities against their own will.

The answers that' have been out in front for many years has been to learn more, pray harder, become more religious. Ask the Rebbe for a blessing etc. Sure, those have yielded little to no results.

Dealing with addiction of any kind is no simple issue, yet some comments I have read over the years boggles my mind on how naive people are, and how easy the blame gets put on the addict.

It's time these communities stop blaming the drug dealers, the private games, the bars and the nightclubs and start to look internally.

Parents need to be taught how to be parents, teachers need to be doing their work other than a paycheck, the entire communities need to be more tolerant of other people's points of views.

These conversations need to be had with an open mind and an open heart. There is no room for emotion. Stop defending a system and blaming the participant. The time for change ha always been now.
(7/26/2013 1:01:26 AM)
SENSITIVE CONNECTIONS book is in some Jewish bookstores and on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, until joining a program
(7/28/2013 2:13:10 AM)
For # 21
Find yourself an alanon meeting.
(7/31/2013 12:40:15 AM)
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