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Gambling Addiction: A Licenced Professional's Perspective

By: Russell Potvin

gambling addiction interview dr. tessina pyschotherapist

We all know that gambling in land-based or online casinos can be a lot of fun and a great way to interact with our friends and family, but we often forget, or turn a blind eye, to the struggles that thousands of people face per year when it comes to this pasttime. Gambling addiction is no light matter, its seriousness is what keeps it from being talked about openly, but we hope to change that.

Grizzly Gambling recently had the honour to sit down with licensed pyschotherapist, Dr. Tina B. Tessina, to discuss an ongoing issue in the online casino world: problem gambling. This is an issue that affects more than 3.2% of Canadian Adults and 2.2% of youth aged 15-241, and one that needs to be talked about more freely in the hopes of helping those who suffer. Based in South California, Dr. Tessina has over 35 years' experience in counselling individuals and couples, and has written 13 books in 17 different languages. Her book, The REAL 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs, specifically deals with problem gambling and addiction. Take a look as we discuss the prevelance of this issue and get her opinions, expertise, and advice on the matter.

GrizzlyGambling.com (GG): Hi Dr. Tessina, thank you for sitting down with us today. Why you don't start by telling our readers a little bit about yourself and how your career has led you to help people who suffer from gambling addiction?

Tina Tessina (TT): I'm a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Ca since 1982. Over the years, I've worked with many kinds of addictions, and cooperated with a number of sponsors to help their sponsees. As I worked with them and learned about the issues they faced that were not covered in the twelve-step programs, I created a lot of techniques and exercises to help them. After several years, I compiled them in a book: The REAL 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs.

GG: And what do you make of statistical figures that are released on gambling addiction? Something like the report from the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre. Do you think they seem inflated?

TT: It's hard to inflate numbers about gambling addiction, because it's become so prevalent, especially with the easy availability of gambling on the Internet.

GG: So what is your take on casinos? Do you think they have any incentive to identify and prevent problem gambling?

TT: I don't believe they do. Casinos watch for card-counting and other cheats, but they don't really care if a person is gambling away their grocery money, as long as the casino is not losing.

GG: Does it seem surprising to you that the tech industry wants to learn from slot machine makers?

TT: No. Slot machine makers have been working at their craft since the early machine age. They have depth of knowledge and creativity.

GG: So then, what is your professional opinion on the topics of betting on esports and daily fantasy sports? Do you believe they can lead to adulthood gambling addiction in youths?

TT: I believe that addiction becomes a problem when there is inner pain that the addict is desperate to escape. When that pain exists, anything can become a threshold to addiction. When a person is comfortable with who he or she is, there is an internal limit on destructive behavior.

Addiction becomes a problem when there is inner pain that the addict is desperate to escape.

GG: On the topic of addiction pertaining togambling...can our readers find any published works that you have on the subject for reference?

TT: The REAL 13th Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs.

GG: What do you think can be done right now as a preventative method for those who may be prone to gambling addiction, from activities such as esports and fantasy sports?

TT: I think awareness helps. PSAs about the signs of addiction and what you can do to help yourself can be effective. Educating people on the norms of play, and what constitutes crossing the line will at least make them aware.

GG: I'm sure many of readers would love to reach out to you. How can we make that happen?

TT: On my website at www.tinatessina.com, through email, and on my Facebook Page.

We'd like to thank Dr. Tina Tessina for her knowledge on this topic and for taking the time to talk to us about the prevelance of online gambling addiction. For further information on the topic, please see our article on gambling addiction.

If you or someone you know suffers from an addiction to gambling, please reach out to any of these problem gambling resources, based on your location.

References:

1https://www.problemgambling.ca/EN/Documents/FA_GamblingProblemGamblinginCanada.pdf

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