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What Is A Gambling Addiction Support Group?
A gambling addiction support group is a professional or member-led group of recovering gambling addicts meeting regularly to discuss recovery and sobriety challenges. These meetings and discussions may happen in person, via video call, or through text-based forums or chat rooms.
Support groups aim to provide recovering gamblers with a safe place to talk about challenges, celebrate wins, and connect with fellow addicts for a sense of community and accountability.
In addition, support groups can help prevent relapse during treatment and as a part of your aftercare once treatment ends.
Types of Gambling Addiction Support Groups
Gambling addiction support groups tend to fall into two categories—
- Self-help groups are structured meetings led by peers or members of the group; and
- Support groups are meetings led by a mental health professional, religious leader, or community leader.
Within these two categories of self-help groups and support groups, the types of meetings may include:
- In-person meetings
- Online meetings (video call)
- Group chats or chat rooms
- Local resources
Gambling Addiction Self-Help Groups
The most common type of self-help group is the 12-step program, originally popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Although 12-step programs began as a spiritual process, many organizations offer secular or non-religious versions.
Twelve-step programs are usually led by recovered addicts, peers, or members of a religious organization.
According to the 12-step method, recovery is defined as abstinence from gambling addiction. Members are encouraged to count the number of days since they gambled, earning sentimental rewards along the way.
Common self-help groups for gambling addiction include:
- Gam-Anon: A 12-step self-help fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem of someone in their life.
- Gamblers Anonymous: A fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope to help others recover from a gambling problem.
- National Council on Problem Gambling: The national advocate for programs and services to assist people and families affected by problem gambling.
Gambling Addiction Support Groups
Specially trained volunteers or healthcare providers usually lead support groups. These meetings tend to be more casual and focus on group discussion rather than a strict program, providing a safe space for compulsive gamblers to vent their emotions.
SMART Recovery (Self-Management And Recovery Training) is the most common non-religious support group that focuses on changing thought patterns to address triggers and encourages aligning behaviors with personal values through self-empowerment and self-reliance.
Common support groups for gambling addiction include:
- SMART Recovery: Helping millions of people worldwide beat their addictions and lead rich, happy, healthy lives.
- Partnership to End Addiction: Online support meetings for parents and caregivers of children with addiction, hosted by specially trained parent coaches, with clinical oversight.
- GamTalk: Provides online support for gambling issues through their 24-hour chat room, scheduled chat room sessions, and community support wall.
- Kindbridge: Facilitated by licensed therapists and certified problem gambling counselors to offer specialized courses that create a welcoming and safe environment where gambling addicts come together.
Other Support Group Options
Aside from the organizations mentioned previously, you may also find support groups through social media sites like Facebook, forums like Reddit, and meet-ups held by local churches and community organizations.
Often your primary care doctor can also refer you to a local support group.
Other support group options include:
- Gambling recovery Facebook groups
- Gambling Addiction Support on Reddit (r/GamblingAddiction)
- Local church groups (Celebrate Recovery)
- Local community meet-ups (rec centers, public health departments, and non-profit organizations)
Benefits of Joining a Gambling Addiction Support Group
Support groups will give you as much as you put into them. If you show up to meetings, engage with peers, ask questions, and open yourself to change, the benefits of support groups can be life-changing.
You Will Feel Less Alone in Your Gambling Addiction
For many gambling addicts or problem gamblers who isolate themselves, realizing you’re not alone in your addiction can be transformative.
Whether meeting in person or online, hearing stories from other compulsive gamblers can help you put your own situation into perspective.
It’s A Safe Place to Work Through Emotions
The reality of gambling addiction is rarely pretty.
Lying about or sugarcoating that reality ultimately isn’t helpful, but discussing such intense details isn’t always possible or healthy to do with friends or family members.
Gambling addiction support groups provide a safe environment for attendees or members to be honest about their feelings, even if they’re negative or difficult. Better still, fellow peers or the group leader can help you feel heard and even resolve those issues through discussion.
You’ll Learn More About Gambling Addiction and Why It Occurs.
Education is a big component of gambling addiction support groups. Regardless of your background or education level, support groups provide current, evidence-based information about how gambling addiction works, its treatment strategies, and ways to avoid relapse.
Support groups often offer toolkits you can print or download to help you better understand the mechanisms of gambling addiction and the best skills to handle temptation and relapse risk.
You Can Develop Accountability and Personal Responsibility
Accountability is common in support groups, especially as you learn more about fellow gambling addicts through regular meetings.
For some addicts, accountability from strangers is more effective than from friends or family. Because fellow support group members or attendees understand how gambling addiction feels more intimately than non-addicts, their opinions and faith in you feel even more meaningful.
Build a Support System
People with gambling addiction may self-isolate or lose the support of friends and family through the course of their addiction. While the hope is that loved ones will support you once you enter recovery, it’s not always the case.
Support groups can provide the essential social connection and peer support needed to function. Many who attend gambling addiction support groups have experienced the same dark moments and losses you have, so you already have the common ground to build meaningful connections and friendships with others.
Are There Support Groups for Loved Ones of Gambling Addicts?
Yes, there are support groups for the loved ones of gambling addicts.
The damage of gambling addiction rarely affects only the addict; friends and family of gambling addicts also suffer and may benefit from the camaraderie that support groups can offer.
Support groups that offer help to the loved ones of gambling addicts include:
How to Find a Gambling Addiction Support Group
You can find gambling addiction support groups in a few ways.
The first way is by asking your doctor, therapist, or addiction specialist if they have any recommendations for you.
National Council on Problem Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous, and Gam-Anon are the most common support groups/self-help groups, many with local meet-ups you can attend.
You can also try searching for any organizations or support groups that meet locally, whether through churches, rec centers, or health departments.
Connecting With Gambling Addiction Support Groups
Many support groups are free to join and offer essential recovery support. If you believe that you or a loved one could benefit from attending a gambling addiction support group, don’t hesitate to reach out to the resources provided or ask your doctor.
If you’re ready to find treatment for gambling addiction but don’t know where to start, use SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or call 1-877-726-4727 (HELP) to find treatment providers in your area.