Support Groups for Individuals Dealing with a Gambling Addiction

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Like a kid in a candy store we can hardly resist the lure of past or present addictions. Simply telling an addict “don’t touch” is rarely effective. The biological and emotional pull of an addiction is fierce and should be treated as such!

There is growing concern that the quick fix, “21-day rehab” or similar programs just don’t cut it. [1]

The truth is that recovery from addiction usually lasts a significant period of time, and compassionate, committed support is vital.

You need friends that know how the addiction landscape looks, feels and who have your best interest at heart. They will help make your recovery stick.

Support groups are a component of effective recovery that has been around for a long time.

They first appeared in “12 Step” forms for recovering alcoholics. Now there are support groups for a wide range of addictions and gambling is no exception.

There are many support groups for gambling that you can find locally. Good places to start are the following:

  • Gamblers Anonymous. A national organization that can point you to meetings in your area.
  • Gambling therapy. An online forum where you can join with others meeting in groups and therapy sessions.

You can find support groups in your area by searching the internet, using the yellow pages and contacting community health organizations who can direct you. Ultimately, no matter how different support groups are, some key elements make them particularly effective:

  1. Help us uncover our distorted thinking
  2. Keep us in recovery during hard periods
  3. Shared experiences make the journey more bearable
  4. We can admit the wholes in our coping strategies and find alternatives
  5. You can find a sponsor or accountability partner

Distorted thinking

When we are addicted we often think we are still in control, can change our behavior and stop if we wished. This is called denial. It is a common barrier that many addicts face. Support groups consist of others who have faced this myth of control and managed to wrestle past it. They can help you do the same as you consider the evidence of a life with addiction.

We want to believe that everything is better than it is. As humbling as it may be, recognizing that we believe lies is a necessary first step. Lies might include: “I’m just waiting for the big pay day, then I’ll stop”, “There is nothing else for me”, “I can’t get out of this anyway”.

Often we deny the root cause of addiction, or have no idea what it is. Good support groups function to educate you in the process of considering your actions honestly. This may be formally or informally, but both help you understand your journey and aid you in taking action.

Hard periods

Statue of man sittingRecovery is a tough road that requires willingness, honesty, acceptance, humility and resolve. It is unlikely that any of us will maintain all of these qualities for long in isolation.

The support group will remind you of why you are making the choices you are, and provide direct contact with others wrestling with similar issues.

You can often find practical behavioral support in these groups that will give you tools and skills to effectively navigate the tough moments.

These can often cover emotion management skills, stress reduction strategies, thought identification and behavioral plans.

It is worth heeding the advice of those further along in the recovery process, and yet making it your own at the same time.

Shared experiences

When you share your struggles in a compassionate, validating environment, emotions feel less oppressive and stress diminishes. We are a communal species that thrives off of being understood and known. Even a simple knowing nod from a group member can spark a new commitment in another member.

Being connected and understood shouldn’t be understated! This experience reminds us that no matter what we have done, or where we have been, someone accepts us and is on our side.

Coping strategies

group of people holding handsWe all deal with life is particular ways. Commonly we treat others and ourselves as effectively as we can to manage pain and increase pleasure.

A key part of recovery is starting to unravel the way we live in its bigger context.

Not just our addictions, but how we operate around people, using them, cheating them, expecting things from them and manipulating them.

In a safe space we can begin to let our guard down and consider all of the impacts our decisions have.

Have we stolen money, have we been selfish with our time, have we neglected others, have we been cruel or abusive?

In the support group you can start testing out new ways to engage with people and feel the positive impact on your emotions and in their reactions to you.

Journey partner

Sponsors or accountability partners are a very personal point of contact and support that we can utilize. This is someone that knows us well and can lovingly challenge us on the recovery journey.

Support groups often promote these relationships and give you access to them. It is highly worth seeking them out.

Finally, just note that thousands of addicts have found tremendous help and felt the life changing effects of a support group. It is not a quick fix, but a place to make a lasting change.


[1]. Brody, J. E. (2013, February 4). Effective Addiction Treatment. Retrieved from

Paul LoosemoreAbout the author: Written by Paul Loosemore, MA PLPC. Paul works as a mental health counselor, and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction—He is the founder of

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 31, 2016
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.