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Gamblers Anonymous: Why does it Work & How to get The Best from it.

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#1 Posted on:
Mon, 25/01/2016 - 16:52

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

There are few places in the world you'll find more honesty, courage & support than in a 12 Step room. It's one of the most amazing experiences you can have. Gamblers Anonymous meetings are not what you have seen on the TV or at the movies.

GA groups are an important resource of recovery for two reasons. First they are effective. Millions of people have found recovery through the Anonymous module. Second, they're free & universally available to everyone. Almost every country, every city has them. There are many kinds of recovery support, doctors, therapists, counsellors & rehab programs. How they work is obvious. How GA groups work is not so well understood. Bare with me, this is going to go on for a while, but I will try to explain!

SO HOW DOES GA WORK.

You can decide if you have an addiction.

You can go to a meeting & hear other peoples stories & decide if there are any similarities between their story & yours. You can overcome some of your denial about your addiction. You see that addiction can affect anybody. Good people, with good jobs, good families & a sense of humour. You may already know this intellectually, but you need to believe IT. Everybody likes to think that they're something special. But addiction is one of those times when it is comforting to know that you're not alone.

You will meet people going through the same thing.

The idea behind GA groups is that you feel stronger when you belong to a group of people who are doing the same thing. Everybody's first reaction to addiction is to deal with it alone. Addiction is an isolating disease. GA groups give you the chance to reach out & ask for help.

YOU BELIEVE RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE.

You see that other people are recovering from addiction, & you develop confidence that you can change your life. The people you see recovering didn't do anything special. They just followed a few simple principles laid out for them in the 12 steps.

YOU LEARN OTHER PEOPLES RECOVERY TECHNIQUES.

GA meetings are a resource. You can ask other people who've been in the same boat you're in how they handled certain situations. You can ask them if what you're going through is normal. Some days you'll have a powerful urge to gamble & its good to know that other people have gone through the same thing & how they dealt with it. One of the fears many people have is that their life will be smaller or less interesting without gambling. GA groups give you a chance to meet people whose lives are just as interesting & in many cases bigger & more fun now that they've stopped gambling.

YOU WONT BE JUDGED.

Most addicts have difficulty sharing their feelings & emotions, partly because they're afraid nobody will understand them & partly because they're afraid that they'll be criticized. So they bottle everything up inside, which makes them want to gamble even more. The people at a GA group won't judge you because they've heard it all before. They've done it all before. They know that you're not crazy because of the things you do when gambling, but that you are addicted.

YOU'RE REMINDED OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF GAMBLING.

I Can promise you this will happen! After you have stopped gambling for say 6months to a year, you'll feel stronger than you've felt in years. That's when the voice of your addiction will tell you that you can control your gambling.this time. That this time it will be different. This time you'll know what to do & when to stop. GA groups give you the chance to hear stories of the people who've just come into the program, or the stories of the people who have relapsed & just come back. They will all tell you the same thing. They all felt that they could control it.. If you could control your gambling, you would have done it by now. Addiction is a disease & should be treated as one. If you had a heart disease, you would never think that your heart disease was gone once you began to feel better & that you could eat anything you wanted or not exercise, without suffering more heart disease. GA meetings remind you that you need to keep following your recovery plan.

YOU HAVE A SAFE PLACE TO GO. GA meetings are a safe harbor when you want to be out of harm's way. If you've had a bad day you can go to a meeting & spend a couple of hours knowing you wont be able to gamble. By the end of the meeting you'll almost certainly feel better & more motivated for recovery.

GA meetings are a source of hope, strength, safety and guidance.

WHAT GA GROUPS WON'T DO.

They will not define you as weak or powerless. Instead they encourage you to take control of your life by recognizing your addiction and overcoming it.

They are not based on shame & labelling yourself in a negative manner. Instead they encourage you to take responsibility for your life & to realize that you can stop your gambling. GA groups encourage you to recognize that addiction is a disease & that you are powerless to change the way you emotionally respond to gambling. But they also encourage you to realize you have the power to change other parts of your life so that you don't relapse in the future.

GA groups encourage you to take a look at your life & see how you got into trouble in the past so you don't fall into the same traps again. GA groups encourage you to ask for help, where as addiction encourages you to avoid help.

FINDING THE RIGHT GROUP.

Every group is different. Some groups you'll like, some groups you wont. They each have their own personality & mix of people. Finding the right group is important because when you do find it, recovery becomes a lot easier..

Don't keep going to a group that you don't like just because its convenient or close by. If you do that you'll eventually convince yourself that you don't need to go to meetings. You will tell yourself. They're real addicts. I'm not like them. The beauty of GA groups is that there are many to choose from, it's not that hard to find at least one you can connect with..

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR GROUP.

Become active. The magic of recovery happens when you actively participate & share at meetings. Recovery doesn't happen when you sit passively & listen to other people. Yes bed yourself in, but once comfortable, engage. You recover when you're honest, nakedly honest & share what's going on inside.

BE COMMITTED.

Join a group & go to it regularly. How often is regularly? For the newcomers as many as you can physically get to. At least two a week. Just one a week seems a bit thin, as if you miss one due to unforseen circumstances, that leaves a two week gap between meetings. Far too long & potentially dangerous.

USE THE HELP ON OFFER.

GA groups are a generous & giving environment. People will offer to help in many ways. They will offer to meet for coffee to talk things through or maybe their phone number to call or text day or night. They've been through it themselves & they know how hard it is. In the beginning you may be overwhelmed by their generosity. But its sincere.

Your tendency will be to not accept their help. You will think that you don't want to be a bother, or that your problems aren't important. But they're offering help because they want to, and because they know that helping you helps themselves. When they listen to your stories, they're reminded of where they've been & what they need to do to remain gamble free.

GET A SPONSOR & DO STEP WORK.

A sponsor is your own personal coach or teacher to help you through recovery. There are 3 levels of support in GA rooms.

The first level is people who are general supports. They will offer to go for coffee, give you a lift to the meetings, to offer their number. You can't have enough friends like that.

The next level if support is a temporary sponsor. They're someone who you would like to spend time with talking about recovery. They can be a sounding board. They can help you to understand the format of meetings. They can call you to motivate you to go to meetings. They can also act as an early warning system to help you recognise if you're in denial, being complacent or showing signs of relapse. You can have more than one temporary sponsor.

The final level of support is a sponsor. Once you've been in recovery for a while & you've checked out some of the meetings, you should find yourself a regular sponsor. They are a teacher to help you learn the 12 Steps.

FINDING THE RIGHT SPONSOR.

A sponsor is somebody who you would like as a teacher to guide you through the 12 steps & into recovery. They don't necessarily need to be someone you would like to hang out with as a friend. By choosing a sponsor you're also implicitly saying that you like the form of their recovery & serenity. In GA rooms it is said that you like what your sponsor has. In this case has relates to what they have in recovery not materially.

A sponsor should preferably have at least 5 years of recovery. They need that time to develop enough perspective on recovery. Finally a sponsor should be someone for whom you have absolutely no romantic feelings for.

There's one question you should ask your potential sponsor.

Tell me what you do with your spinsees? The answer you're looking for is something like, We get together once a week, I give you homework & we go through the 12 steps. The answer your not looking for is, We get together once a week, we go out for coffee and you tell me how your week has been. That might make a good friend, but it won't make a good sponsor or guide you through the Steps.

SO....THE 12 STEPS.

The 12 Steps is a huge topic that deserves more attention than I can give it here, but I will make a few basic comments.

THE 12 STEPS ARE NOT ABOUT STOPPING GAMBLING.

Only the first step is about stopping gambling. The remaining 11 steps are about how to create a new life where it's easier not to gamble. They are about how to be happier in life.

The principles of the 12 Steps are the principles of life. If you work at the 12 Steps, they will help you identify the traits that make you unhappy, let go of those traits & learn something better in their place. The 12 Steps are a module for self-change.

Posted on:
Mon, 25/01/2016 - 19:41

Garyl1976

Joined:
2015-01-02

Thanks Dan,

Is that from official literature or your own words?

Excellent piece 

Posted on:
Mon, 25/01/2016 - 22:36

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

Great post Dan I really enjoyed reading it and agree whole heartedly  heartedly with it.

I always say it was the best gamble I have ever made walking through them doors. I've tried a few meetings and am lucky as my first and local one suits me down to the ground.

I'm starting to contribute more and going to chair next week.

I've also committed to another. meeting to try and get that started and build it up its been struggling holding onto new people because of lack of numbers and we are trying to get a better venue  

one guy is looking to become a sponsor and think I will take him up on the offer in the next few months  

All I can say anyone reading this give it a go try a few different meetings there all different  you've nothing to lose its a couple of hours that's all. how long did you spend gambling?

If it's not for you fair enough but you gave it a go  

Thanks again Dan

Posted on:
Mon, 25/01/2016 - 22:59

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

No its not official literature Gary and as much as the addict screaming inside me would like to take credit for it I unashamedly admit stealing it with a few add ons of my own. Martin it's great to see you getting so involved, it really is a cornerstone of recovery. You will get so much out of chairing, it will be the first meeting you have listened to everything being said (you will understand this after you do it). Good luck with that & your doing great.

Posted on:
Tue, 26/01/2016 - 07:31

Garyl1976

Joined:
2015-01-02

Can fully agree with that Martin...you tend to take a lot more in when chairing. "active listening" I think it's called.

 

Posted on:
Wed, 27/01/2016 - 10:34

Shanlea

Joined:
2016-01-20

Thanks for this. My husband attended his first meeting last night so this is very useful stuff. Right now he can't really see how its going to help but he's said he'll keep going and give it a try. His biggest fear / challenge right now is what is he going to do without horse racing in his life - it's been such a massive part of his life from been an owner, to member of race courses to Saturday afternoons gluded to Channel 4. In his mind he doens't see anything wrong with his horse racing betting, as the major problem for him has been online gaming. He's feeling kinda sorry for himself right now as he's going to lose his hobby and passion and doesn't know what to do about it....

Posted on:
Wed, 27/01/2016 - 11:44

Forum admin

Joined:
2010-11-01

Hi [email protected]

Many thanks for writing such an informative piece. It was interesting for our staff members to read and I'm sure it will be for forum members as well.

Best wishes

Rebecca

 

Posted on:
Fri, 05/02/2016 - 11:31

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

Any questions or anxieties about attending, feel free to ask

Posted on:
Sat, 13/02/2016 - 15:41

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Thanks Dan :)

Posted on:
Sun, 14/02/2016 - 00:42

Gazelle

Joined:
Before 2009

I went to GA. Someone was on about how they could deposit money on their phone bill and play roulette on their mobile.

At the time i had no idea this existed. £600 on my phone bill later, phone is cut off, and debt passed to a collection agency.

 

 

Posted on:
Sun, 14/02/2016 - 02:18

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

I once went to GA and someone told me how to self exclude from online accounts and put blocking software on my laptop and phone so i couldn't gamble on them.  

KTF 

Posted on:
Sun, 14/02/2016 - 10:42

xmercx

Joined:
2016-02-01

My first Ga meeting tomorrow very nervous but understand I need the extra support from people who are going through the same struggles. I am really lucky to have found a women only meeting and no offence to you men but when I attended Ga 2 years ago it was 99% men and a weekly meeting was around 60 people so found it very overwhelming and couldn't find the courage to get up and speak so stopped going and hence slipped back into this evil addiction.

Posted on:
Mon, 22/02/2016 - 21:23

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

Bump 

Posted on:
Tue, 23/02/2016 - 21:53

Shep72

Joined:
2016-02-22

Just the info I wanted. Great piece and detail. Thanks.

Posted on:
Mon, 29/02/2016 - 14:55

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

bump

Posted on:
Fri, 04/03/2016 - 23:28

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

Bump

Posted on:
Mon, 07/03/2016 - 22:05

Mikeadams02

Joined:
2016-03-07

Hi I'm new to this im trying to work out how to stop gambling I'm always playing slot machines and have lost ridiculous amounts of money I've finally come clean to my wife but not sure what to do next does anyone else have any ideas ?

Posted on:
Thu, 17/03/2016 - 19:32

Thegerman

Joined:
2015-02-26

So Oldham, how did you self excluded from all online betting sites?

Posted on:
Thu, 05/05/2016 - 06:52

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

Bump

Posted on:
Sat, 07/05/2016 - 12:04

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

deano: wrote:
Mikeadams02 wrote:
Hi I'm new to this im trying to work out how to stop gambling I'm always playing slot machines and have lost ridiculous amounts of money I've finally come clean to my wife but not sure what to do next does anyone else have any ideas ?
Hi Mike. Next step would be finding out what works for you best. Be it finding a local gambalers anonymous meeting. There's counselling sessions offered by gamcare. You could hand over financial control to your wife until you see fit that you can handle money again with out it being a problem. Self exclude from all betting sites if thats what you use. There's also a new one phone call system that will self exclude you from all bookies in one go in your area. All very good tools at your disposal. Deano

Tools galore!

Posted on:
Fri, 03/06/2016 - 00:21

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

Bumping this for all the new guys considering GA worth a read and worth giving GA ago

Posted on:
Mon, 13/06/2016 - 23:42

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Bump

Posted on:
Sun, 26/06/2016 - 11:04

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Bump Bump

Posted on:
Mon, 18/07/2016 - 23:50

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

Bump bump bump

Posted on:
Mon, 08/08/2016 - 23:22

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Bump bump bump Bump

Posted on:
Wed, 10/08/2016 - 15:07

Sam Crow

Joined:
2012-02-23

I cant say enough about GA. I've only been going 9 or 10 weeks but the impact has been huge. Like minded people who understand what you have went/are going through in a non-judgemental way.

In all honesty I always had it in my head that it wouldn't be for me, that I didn't need it and somehow was different. Even before attending my first meeting I was thinking 'at least I can say I've tried it' before not going back. In many ways it was a gamble to go there, well that's how I saw it anyway. It has turned out to be the best gamble I've made

Posted on:
Tue, 16/08/2016 - 15:26

alainepo

Joined:
2016-07-27

-

Posted on:
Tue, 16/08/2016 - 16:04

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

Why not just go along Alain with an open mind & a willingness to listen. I promise you no one will preach god at you. You do not need to be religous to engage in the 12 Step programme. It is one of spirituality & not religion. I have been involved with GA for over 9 years. I dont believe in god & if the programme dictated that i must i would have left pretty sharpish.
As with all things in life it is better to probably experience it for yourself than to listen to others opinions on it.

Posted on:
Tue, 16/08/2016 - 16:07

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

I attend GA and don't have a religious bone in my body, we did speak of it at one meeting and 90% of the people there did not. 

They is some talk of God in literature and of a higher power, the higher power can be what ever you want it to be, for my it is my son. 

I would suggest trying a meeting if you can get to a few different ones as meetings can vary, in the numbers and types of  people who attend find one that suits you but all meeting follow a similar structure.  I would always say give it 90 days if it's not for you walk away but if it is, like it is for me it can be the difference. 

KTF 

Posted on:
Tue, 16/08/2016 - 16:21

alainepo

Joined:
2016-07-27

-

Posted on:
Tue, 16/08/2016 - 16:25

alainepo

Joined:
2016-07-27

-

Posted on:
Fri, 02/09/2016 - 12:36

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

allainepo wrote:

[email protected] mentions spirituality so i thought i would google that and see what the definition was

Wiki came up with

Spirituality refers to certain kinds of activity through which a person seeks meaning, especially a "search for the sacred".[1] It may also refer to personal growthblissful experience,[2] or an encounter with one's own "inner dimension."

I think that sounds good to me, personal growth it is then, thanks guys

Yes spirituality can boil down to personal growth if that's what it takes.

Honesty, open mindedness and willingness to change forms the basis of my recovery journey

Posted on:
Mon, 05/09/2016 - 15:00

Benjo100

Joined:
2016-09-05

 

 

 

Hi my name is Brendan.

I will be starting to attend GA meetings again as of tomorrow. The problem I have is that there is only 1 meeting on a Tuesday night in my local area. The nearest open meetings are 27 miles away and even the steps meetings are a similar distance away. I don't drive so it's difficult to know what to do about it. I'm from Stoke on Trent area. 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on:
Mon, 05/09/2016 - 19:51

Oldhamktf

Joined:
2015-09-26

Hi Brendan, I don't drive but can make my local meeting and have made other meetings normally with someone driving from my local meeting do times other options do come up. I have traveled on public to other meetings after all I didn't worry about the time I wasted when I gambled.

Go to your local one and take it from there. 

KTF 

Posted on:
Tue, 20/09/2016 - 17:57

Guestuser9

Joined:
Before 2009

A

Posted on:
Thu, 22/09/2016 - 11:32

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Benjo100 wrote:

 

 

 

Hi my name is Brendan.

I will be starting to attend GA meetings again as of tomorrow. The problem I have is that there is only 1 meeting on a Tuesday night in my local area. The nearest open meetings are 27 miles away and even the steps meetings are a similar distance away. I don't drive so it's difficult to know what to do about it. I'm from Stoke on Trent area. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not everyone has that option Brendan.  Did you go?

 

Posted on:
Wed, 05/10/2016 - 12:40

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Bump

Posted on:
Thu, 06/10/2016 - 21:22

terminater1952

Joined:
Before 2009

I only ever went to one GA meeting and found the whole experience really depressing.It just felt to me like a big social club with everyone laughing and joking with each other.I felt so out of place and only stayed for half an hour and never went back,i have no regrets not going anymore.

Posted on:
Thu, 06/10/2016 - 21:54

Cynical wife

Joined:
2015-06-23

Well, if you'd stuck with it or found another meeting or otherwise given it a fair chance, you might be in recovery. But is that what you really want? Or is it easier to blame something extraneous beyond your control? GA's useless, no point in going, it won't help, in fact, nothing helps so the addiction cycle carries on.

In reality, GA works just fine for those of its members who want recovery. Who are willing to do what it takes, who are prepared to accept the help, because they do indeed want recovery.

CW

Posted on:
Mon, 10/10/2016 - 11:19

Detrimental

Joined:
2014-06-02

Cynical wife wrote:

Well, if you'd stuck with it or found another meeting or otherwise given it a fair chance, you might be in recovery. But is that what you really want? Or is it easier to blame something extraneous beyond your control? GA's useless, no point in going, it won't help, in fact, nothing helps so the addiction cycle carries on.

In reality, GA works just fine for those of its members who want recovery. Who are willing to do what it takes, who are prepared to accept the help, because they do indeed want recovery.

CW

How would you know CW? Leave him alone - you don't know what works for him and what doesn't.

For whatever reason we GAs are cursed with addiction. Sanctamonious posts from people who aren't can be very irritating.

Posted on:
Mon, 10/10/2016 - 11:22

Samson

Joined:
2016-05-08

Hear hear. Well said Detrimental. 

terminater1952 - There are many of us online here who will support you. Just smile and overlook those who aren't helpful.

Posted on:
Mon, 10/10/2016 - 11:41

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

Hi admin.
When i wrote the original post, it was in the spirit of offering information to those who may be curious or wary of attending a GA meeting. I had hoped those who may have questions on what to expect at a meeting, would find it a safe place to pose such questions. What i didnt want was a bun fight. Would it be possible to remove those comments that dont add anything to the spirit of the post

Posted on:
Mon, 10/10/2016 - 19:47

Forum admin

Joined:
2010-11-01

I don't think we can remove any posts from here [email protected], as we try not to censor unless something goes against our forum rules. We're sure that people will still continue to get a lot out of the material here, as they have so far.

best wishes

Forum Admin

Posted on:
Tue, 11/10/2016 - 15:57

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

Thankyou Admin. I understand.

I feel I need to reply then.

GA has a solution. It is one that undisputably works for those willing to follow it. We dont dispute there are other solutions out there. But we dont have a scroll down menu of options. Just our solution. People are free to take it or leave it. Nobody can expect our solution to work for them if they are not prepared to follow the clear instructions on how to recover that have been laid out for them.

Posted on:
Mon, 02/01/2017 - 15:21

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

bump

Posted on:
Tue, 03/01/2017 - 00:33

anon1982

Joined:
2013-06-28

A great post [email protected].

Xmercx, may I ask where about a in the UK you are based as I too attended GA meetings but I was the only female that ever attended and after going for a few weeks found it really tough being the only female. I think GA meetings are good and definitely a big step to recovery for a lot of people. I would love to find one where there are at least a few females so I would feel more comfortable. I am in Berkshire, does anyone know of any? I have searched online but to date haven't found anything.

Posted on:
Thu, 16/02/2017 - 17:31

[email protected]

Joined:
2014-12-31

bump

Posted on:
Thu, 16/02/2017 - 18:44

Rhoda

Joined:
2016-12-06

I went to a GA meeting on Tuesday...I can't explain where the compulsion to go came from, though I think it may have had something to do with Tri....but I felt I would regret it if I didn't go. I think as a woman, expecting to walk into a room of men, made it even more difficult. I was pleased to see four other women there...two gamblers and two partners. I parked in the car park, got out my car once and then got back in. A chap kept looking out the door...that made it easier to approach. He sat me down in the foyer and we had a chat, then we went into the room, he understood my apprehension. Someone moved to allow me to sit next to the guy I had spoken to; he didn't have to be asked, he understood too. There was a variety of people; as one person spoke of their addiction, people around the room nodded, they knew the feelings, the irrationality, the guilt, the despair. It felt safe. I am looking forward to the next meeting. Just thought I would share this in case it helped anyone who was in two minds about going.

Posted on:
Sun, 19/02/2017 - 15:12

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Rhoda wrote:

Just thought I would share this in case it helped anyone who was in two minds about going.

thanks rhoda and hope you get back soon.  tri

Posted on:
Tue, 28/02/2017 - 12:19

triangle

Joined:
2014-03-14

Did you get back Rhoda?

Posted on:
Tue, 28/02/2017 - 12:55

dswright1

Joined:
2017-02-27

I have previously attended GA meetings but didn't stick with them, mainly because at the time I thought I didn't need them and could beat this thing myself as and when I wanted. This was stupid and naive. Things aren't improving, getting worse if anything so I'm going back to GA and this time I intend to stick with it because this time I am ready and willing to open up fully and embrace the 12 steps. Denial is such a strong emotion when it comes to gambling and I've been in denial for too long now. This illness has chewed me up and spat me out too many times, not just financially but mentally as well and it doesn't get bored of doing so. I'm beginning to finally accept that it won't ever leave me alone, so it's up to me to leave it alone and not give it the encouragement it lives off.

What I found about GA meetings is that sometimes it is good to just go along and listen to other peoples experiences, without the pressure of having to speak yourself if you don't want to. Personally, this benefits me more but everyone is different so you have to do what is comfortable and most beneficial for yourself. Don't forget that everyone is in the same situation within the GA rooms and that is where the strength to succeed comes from. Think of it as safety in numbers. Don't try fighting it alone, it doesn't work in the long run.

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