Self-help is considered a critical part of the recovery process for gambling disorders. Self-help groups can assist callers and provide the tools and strategies for recovery by providing support, direction, motivation, resources, and a sense that they are not dealing with the gambling problem alone. An essential aspect of many self-help programs is the utilization of a sponsor. Sponsors frequently provide additional information, encouragement, fellowship, and guidance to newcomers on a voluntary basis. They may also furnish assistance and offer suggestions to newcomers on a case-by-case basis.
The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling (FCCG) provides resource referrals for both in-person and virtual meetings, for the following Self-Help Support Groups:
❖ Gamblers Anonymous
❖ Gamblers in Recovery – (Gamblers)
❖ Gamblers in Recovery – (Loved Ones)
❖ Recovery Road – (Gamblers)
❖ Recovery Road – (Loved Ones)
❖ Celebrate Recovery
❖ Computer Gaming Anonymous
❖ Online Gamers Anonymous (OLGA & OLG-Anon)
❖ Internet & Technology Addicts Anonymous (ITAA & IT-Anon)
❖ Self-Help Support Groups – Other Alternative Support Groups
Although there are many self-help programs that provide support for people suffering from diverse difficulties or challenges in their lives, there are two primary fellowships within the United States that furnish supports to individuals experiencing problems due to gambling: Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon.
Gamblers Anonymous and/or Gam-Anon meetings are 12-step self-help resources where gamblers and loved ones can speak to others experiencing the same or similar difficulties due to gambling problems. This program has been addressing gambling addiction and helping those affected since the 1950s. Men and women of all backgrounds gather together in a group setting to help each other by sharing their experiences, strength, and hope. This 12-step meeting has tens of thousands of members around the United States, is free to attend, and offers sponsorship and pressure relief as significant components of the program. Many people choose to use this resource as their only recovery program, as they feel more comfortable being around people who have/are living with a gambling addiction then they do in a one-on-one counseling environment. The FCCG encourages self-help resources in conjunction with individual treatment options.
- Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is an anonymous and confidential fellowship of men and women of all ages, from diverse social and economic backgrounds, races and religions, who meet for the purpose of sharing their experience, strength and hope as it relates to maintaining abstinence from gambling while living a happy and useful life. There are no dues or fees, and the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling.
- Gam-Anon is for persons adversely affected by the gambler, such as family members and friends. Members are provided opportunities for learning how to cope with the gambler and accompanying difficulties. It is similar in structure and function to GA. It is not necessary for the gambler to attend Gamblers Anonymous in order for a family member, friend or other loved one to participate in the Gam-Anon program. Members are provided opportunities for learning how to cope with the gambler and accompanying difficulties. It is similar in structure and function to GA.
It is also important to note, unlike many other 12 step programs, often Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon meetings will be held in the same location, at the same time, but in different rooms, so loved ones can accompany the gambler to a meeting. This has shown to be helpful in that it encourages participation in recovery by persons other than the gambler by attending meetings together.
Gamblers in Recovery
Gamblers in Recovery is an online tool which catalogs over 400 gambling-specific weekly virtual self-help group meetings hosted around the world via ZOOM, including Gamblers Anonymous meetings, Gam-Anon meetings, and Recovery Road meetings. The sole purpose of all meetings listed on this site is to help compulsive gamblers and family and friends to recover. The Gamblers in Recovery website uses a simple interface to assist help seekers in locating meetings to join around the clock, throughout the week. The worldwide nature of the meetings list and resulting overlap of global time zones also helps bridge the gap for help seekers with scheduling conflicts that can make joining local meetings challenging. Best of all, this resource is completely free.
Recovery Road is an online recovery program with no dues or fees that was founded from the growing urgency of problem gamblers wanting to quit gambling and live in recovery. Support is available for gamblers and loved ones through private Facebook Groups and daily online 12-Step meetings offered from morning to midnight and more, facilitating connection to a support network of others going through similar situations.
Celebrate Recovery is a faith-based support group that provides help for individuals with a wide range of addictions and problems. This group calls them “hang-ups, habits, and hurts”. They incorporate the GA 12-step model and the 8 Recovery Principles of the Beatitudes to instill a feeling of hope in overcoming adversities. During meetings, individuals will share about their situation with other group members, receive guidance from church members, and work through the program together over the course of 8-10 weeks. Much like counseling or GA/Gam-Anon, Celebrate Recovery can be a stand-alone recovery system that the person embraces and works throughout the rest of their life, and it can also be used in conjunction with other available modalities of problem gambling treatment.
Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous (CGAA)
Computer Gaming Addicts Anonymous (CGAA) is a fellowship and recovery program for compulsive video gamers. The only requirement for CGAA membership is a desire to stop computer/video gaming.
New attendees don’t have to worry about calling themselves a member or a gaming addict just yet. Anyone struggling with compulsive computer or video gaming is welcome to attend the meetings and take all the time necessary to determine the best next steps for individual recovery.
Most members of CGAA have admitted to an obsession and compulsion to game, which grows worse over time, and an inability to limit our gaming, despite the negative consequences. The word in the English language that most closely describes this condition is “addiction,” which most of us use, for lack of a better word. The focus remains on being honest about the situation and choosing to deal with it through recovery efforts such as CGAA.
Online Gamers Anonymous (OLGA & OLGA-Anon)
Online Gamers Anonymous®, founded in 2002, is a 12-step self-help group. Members share their experience, strengths and hope to help and support each other recover and heal from problems resulting from excessive video game playing (gaming disorder).
Anyone affected by excessive gaming is welcome. The OLGA/OLG-Anon fellowship offers a spiritual solution for recovery. The 12-steps are offered as one of the tools for recovery from gaming addiction, and are highly recommended for a successful recovery. As is true with other 12-step programs, members of the OLGA/OLG-Anon fellowships have a free choice of tools to use in their recovery.
Internet & Technology Addicts Anonymous (ITTA & IT-Anon)
Internet and Technology Addicts Anonymous (ITAA) is a 12-step fellowship of individuals who support each other in recovering from compulsive internet and technology use. Its single purpose is to abstain from compulsive internet and technology use and to help others find freedom from this addiction.
Individuals can join one of many daily meetings over the phone or online, or can attend face-to-face meetings in a local city. Meetings are free to attend, and there are no membership requirements beyond the desire to stop compulsive internet and technology use. Meetings are safe, secure, and anonymous. Most meetings are in English, and there are meeting also available in French, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, German, Hebrew, and Arabic. The following types of Internet & Technology addictions discussed include:
❖ Social Media Addictions
❖ Smartphone Addictions
❖ Streaming Addictions
Other Alternative Support Groups
These groups are for gamblers or loved ones contacting the FCCG’s HelpLine that are afflicted with other issues in addition to the gambling addiction, such as Parkinson’s disease, Depression, Bi-Polar Disorder, compulsive shopping/spending, overeating, or are stricken with grief. Although they are not traditional 12-step programs, they offer comfort, support, and a chance to share with others who are also affected by the same or similar serious mental/physical health issues. For some, this type of resource can be beneficial when used in conjunction with other problem gambling specific resources.
Examples of Other Alternative Support Groups:
❖ Bettors Anonymous
❖ Debtors Anonymous
❖ LifeRing Secular Recovery
❖ Sex Addicts Anonymous
❖ Overeaters Anonymous
❖ Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon
❖ Narcotics Anonymous or Nar-Anon
❖ Eating Disorders Anonymous
❖ Parkinson’s Disease Support Group
❖ Bi-Polar Support Group
❖ Compulsive Shopping Support Group
❖ Overspending Support Group
❖ Grief Support Group
It can be overwhelming to know where to start with Self-Help Support Groups. Contact the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine today, and speak to a Specialist who will listen to your situation and connect you with the best Self-Help Support Groups and other resources for gambling addiction, whether you are worried about your own gambling or that of a loved one. Best of all, your contact to the HelpLine is completely free and confidential.