Overview of 12-Step Program for Gambling Addiction 

Apr 19, 2024

As legalized online sports betting continues to grow in popularity with rapid expansion from state to state, most recently adding North Carolina, so too do cases of gambling addiction. The necessity for the community and services provided by support groups like Gamblers Anonymous cannot be understated. 

If you or someone you know struggles with compulsive or problematic gambling, Gamblers Anonymous signals the reminder that nobody is in this alone. Examining this overview of Gamblers Anonymous and their 12-step recovery program could either be the first big step on the road to solace or, at the very least, create the awareness needed to spot the problem in yourself or a loved one and get the necessary help. 

What is Gamblers Anonymous?

Gamblers Anonymous is a free-to-join fellowship of men and women who, in common cause, come together with the shared desire to overcome gambling addiction. Whether it's online, over the phone or in person, GA meets members where they are, wherever they are located. Through vulnerable exchanges, members share their experiences and strength fighting the daily battle against compulsive gambling in hopes of conquering their addiction and helping others progress on the road to recovery.  

Gamblers Anonymous leaves joining to individual discretion; the only requirement to become a member is a commitment to quit gambling. This fellowship is rooted in the acceptance that compulsive gambling is a spiritual illness that can be cured with spiritual guidance so long as members exhibit a willingness to get better.  

With the sole mission of helping individuals quit gambling, Gamblers Anonymous is completely self-sufficient, opting to avoid partnership or association with any type of outside organization or institution. 

How do you know if you need Gamblers Anonymous?

Ultimately, only you can make this decision. Anyone who wishes to stop gambling can join, regardless of whether you have lost $100 in your lifetime or $100,000. It’s never too late ever, but many people join upon admitting defeat. Unfortunately, submitting to compulsive gambling may come only after having experienced several issues:

  • Suffering significant financial losses

  • Ongoing unwillingness to escape the dream world and accept reality

  • Emotional insecurity – only comfortable in the thick of the betting action

  • An immature outlook to fast-track wealth with minimal effort

  • Series of growing and continuing life problems often relating to personal relationships and character defects

If you gamble and fear you could experience any of the above, or if you or someone you know is suffering, it may be time to seek out Gamblers Anonymous. Of course, the affected individual must be the one to accept his or her own problem, decide to join GA and dedicate themselves to changing. 

Who Should Go to Gamblers Anonymous?

Again, you don’t need to be beaten down by gambling to admit defeat and head to Gamblers Anonymous. Anyone who feels like gambling has them on the ropes or who feels a lack of control or power when it comes to gambling should join. 

Gamblers Anonymous believes compulsive gambling is an innate illness that must be recognized and confronted by the individual. If you believe spiritual principles and medical therapy are a sound solution, GA could be for you. 

12-STEP GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS RECOVERY PROGRAM

  1. Admit to being powerless over gambling - You have lost control over your life.

  2. Believe in a power greater than yourself - Belief that healing comes with the help of a higher power, as you understand it. 

  3. Submit to a power greater than yourself - Turn your will and life over to the care of a higher power.

  4. Examine all parts of yourself - Conduct a moral and financial inventory of yourself – the good, the bad, the ugly.

  5. Admit to wrongs - Admit to yourself and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs.

  6. Readiness to cleanse - Beyond the acceptance of your wrongs, yearn to remove character defects.

  7. Submit to God (of your interpretation) - Humbly communicate with a higher power to remove your shortcomings.

  8. Write amends - Make a list of people you have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all.

  9. Make direct amends - Confront people you have wronged wherever possible, except when doing so would injure them or others.

  10. Ongoing personal inventory - Continue to examine your actions and admit when you are wrong.

  11. Spiritual commitment - Pray and meditate to improve conscious contact with God (of your interpretation), praying for the knowledge and power to carry out His will. 

  12. Principles in practice - Make an effort to practice these principles in all affairs, attempting to carry the message to other compulsive gamblers.

Does it cost money to join?

Gamblers Anonymous is free to join! If you wish to elevate your membership with additional material, supplementing your membership with GA literature, books, etc., does come with a cost.

Other Addiction Support Groups

Gamblers Anonymous isn’t the only option for compulsive gamblers and addicts. Check out this list of support groups and visit their websites through our links to learn more! 

SMART Recovery: They offer a secular, evidence-based alternative to Gamblers Anonymous. These meetings seek to give individuals tools to overcome gambling addiction by focusing on and evaluating behavioral tendencies.

GamCare: They offer digital, face-to-face, online, and telephone support for individuals impacted by compulsive gambling. This service also has early intervention, engagement, outreach, and prevention to communities, individuals, loved ones, partners and professionals. 

Gamblers, Family, and Friends in Recovery (GFFR): This organization offers recovery meetings for gamblers and their family and friends. They also have daily reflections, audio files, and other resources for a successful recovery. Their mission is to help gamblers and their loved ones to find safe and reliable recovery meetings online. 

Gambling Therapy: This free international service from Gordon Moody offers advice and emotional support for anyone affected by gambling addiction. They have support forums for gamers who want to stop or know their addiction is causing harm. 

Bettors Anonymous (BA): This is another community based on the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step recovery program. Check out the website to find a meeting near you.

GamTalk: This online community allows gambling addicts to share their experiences in a safe environment.

Sources:

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