GamCare Logo
Login / Register

How Do We Get the Right Advice Through To Relapsers?

15 posts / 0 new
Last post
Posted by
#1 Posted on:
Sun, 29/10/2017 - 15:54




I think this is a good topic for Discussion. Perhaps my title should have been How do we get people to take the right steps to recover from the addiction when they are not putting proper blocks in place and dont seem to take the advice...Phew too long a title

When they are still keeping secrets and regularly replapsing how do we get them to see the light? How do we say more other than just saying phone Gamcare. Sometimes my words feel useless as I can sense the poster is not ready or even willing to listen. Some clearly just want to stop losing and have the gambling go all right for them.

Are soft words, empathy and sympathy enough or is it time for some more tough talking. Does tough talking put them off when they are in a vunerable state? How vunerable are people when they have already been given the right advice?

I refer to several people who will not be named who come back on the forum when they clearly have no blocks in place and havent told anyone close to them that they have a gambling problem.

Is GA enough on its own? Is Therapy enough on its own? I dont believe so and think it takes all the measures including proper blocks and close support from family and friends. 

I am fully aware the addiction is strong form of mind control but how can we really make people stop and think with our words of advice. I believe it comes from within and a person must be fully ready for recovery or they just wont stop.

I get saddened and frustrated that people relapse having not taken the right recovery steps. I try and remain calm but feel we can not get through to some people and they can not be helped.....Is that how it is with any addiction until its too late ?

What are your thoughts on this issue please?

Best wishes to everyone on the forum

Posted on:
Sun, 29/10/2017 - 18:35




From observation there tends to be a difference in tone from those posters with substantial gf time who have some distance from the gambling fog along with those who aren't gamblers in the first place in comparison with those who have a relatively short gf history. I would hesitate to say less sympathetic but certainly more pragmatic. That can definitely grate with those who are feeling raw from big losses but my view is that facing reality is paramount whether someone wants to hear it or not.  'There, there' and a war story club might be soothing but just doesn't cut it in what is very often an urgent situation.

Repeated relapses are frustrating especially when every bit of the advice hard won experience has shown to work has been ignored but at the end of the day you can take a horse to water etc. etc. The only thing we can hope is that eventually something will stick and click.

Posted on:
Sun, 29/10/2017 - 18:40



From my own experience, I've relapsed many times. A lot of the time I THOUGHT I was taking the right steps and did in fact ignore quite a bit of advice. 

Of course time has taught me that I should have just gone in hard the first relapse and put in the appropriate (and at times extreme) blocks and got the help I needed. To be fair to myself, every relapse I did evaluate the situation and try and take the blocks up a notch - but I was still playing those free games. What was the point?

It wasn't until something clicked that I was able to see it from a totally different perspective. Whether that was down to a light bulb going off in my head, or getting the right about of blocks and advice that I needed - who knows? 

I think it is difficult to explain. It's a kind of similar situation to teenagers and GCSEs I guess. Parents tell their kids they need to buckle down and study to get good grades. Some of the kids will not get the point or bother. It's not till later that they realise how right that advice was. I didn't mean that in a patronising way at all, I'm just trying to compare to a more well known situation.

Maybe it's just impossible for some to see the advice as effective until they have reached a much later, and desperate stage perhaps?

Posted on:
Sun, 29/10/2017 - 19:22



When I comment on anyone I always say use the multi self exclude bookie hotline and online ones you have to self exclude individual until end of this year but to be fare the open a new one every week. Also I read alot of posts and alot of people say telling people like loved ones has resulted in splitting up

Posted on:
Sun, 29/10/2017 - 20:05



Yes cheers everyone keep the replies coming.

I often say it took me 10 months after joining the forum before I did something effective about it. Before then I was getting good advice but I really wasnt accepting it because I was set on handling it my own way. I thought Im a man and I dont need to hand pictures in and fill out forms. I was worried and embarassed about giving details and every excuse was running through my head that I could handle this and registering on the forum was enough.

So I do understand the fog of confusion and wonder If I am being a bit harsh.

As you say adam808 it does appear that it may take a desperate low to trigger the born again moment. What is that new low for different people? Maybe before that low people still think they can handle it in some way.

It took me to a level when I was lying in bed for days and crying or feeling suicidal in every waking moment. At that moment I knew I was losing my family, losing everything and my life was ebbing away...Then a eureka moment came in knowing that all the advice about the right thing to do had been spot on.  I feel Im losing my life so what harm in admitting everything, making phone calls and living on an allowance. Its confusing why I didnt do it before then

I think there is whole debate about splitting up Christer1 but I do tend to feel it would have happened anyway as the desperate truth would have come out sooner or later. I dont want to ruin peoples relationships but a compulsive gambling problem will do that quite quickly if it is not dealt with

If its a good relationship I would think partners would want to be a help but I accept that some people dont feel they can tell anyone. I would probably say tell someone close if you can. I do think the general advice about honesty and a trouble shared is good advice. Secrets are bad news for problem gamblers and it is a case of admitting I am a compulsive gambler so it can be dealt with at every level.

A good point Lethe in they are feeling raw and can sometimes get angry if they are not always receiving  a there there, take care type reply. They naturally understand less about the adiction and dont take kindly to any tone which they may see as know it all or patronising. This can also go hand in hand with other replies saying take it easy on them and forming a war story club with far too much gambling style banter which is understandable as we have all come from a gambling history

Best wishes

Posted on:
Sun, 29/10/2017 - 22:13

Sam Crow


Good topic. Fundementally we can't change anyone except ourselves.

There IS a way to tackle this addiction and recover from it and it's in all the advice that has been given over and over again. Some want the reward without putting in the hard miles which is definatley a trait of a CG.

I have seen some bad advice being given also which lead some to believe they can do it 'their own way'. I have read people after relapse say things like 'GA just isn't for me (even though they haven't tried it), counselling is too far away and I don't have time, my partner will break up with me if I stop lying to them' etc etc. They are then given advice to do what they think is right for them. Seriously?? It's a CG's dream to get out of the mess we created without having to go through the mire! There are no easy options, only necessary ones if you really want to recover.

For a new comer to the forum it's different, give them all the advice and support and help them through the initial stages. Returning members after relapsing agin and again have all the necessary advice they need but choose not to take it.

I don't care if I sound harsh anymore to be honest. I believe it's better to be told the truth than be treated with kid gloves.

Posted on:
Mon, 30/10/2017 - 07:37

Cynical wife


Hi, JD,

I don’t think it’s for anyone to get the advice through to a serial active gambler. It comes back to the basic question of determining who is responsible for what. The advice can be and is offered but for the offeror, it ends there. Taking the advice and acting upon it is the responsibility of the recipient and no one else can or should try to take on that responsibility. 

Put another way, people are going to do what they are going to do and no one else can stop them. Therefore the advice is to focus on self, to concentrate on doing what I need to do and addressing my own issues without taking on anyone else’s. Because taking on someone else’s problems that I can’t solve anyway hurts me.



Posted on:
Mon, 30/10/2017 - 08:03




A great topic JD.

What is the right advice to give??. I say that tongue in cheek because if the "relapser" is unwilling to listen or acknowledge the advice the whole issue is pointless.

Is the relapser here because they have lost £££'s or are they here because they genuinely want to stop. Unfortunately the quick fix mindset is still that of a gambler. One big win and i will stop. Just one so i can put the £££'s back into the account and my OH need never know.

IMO i feel some people appear here as a "token gesture" after another relapse because they feel it may please there OH or a week here will cure any gambling addiction. As we all know that is never the case.

What so we do with them here?

We must never give up on them but on the other hand tough words are sometimes required if they are here and go away on a regular basis. Yes they may be vulnerable but yes they need to listen.

JD when you posted this thread i thought of one individual - gambler toad - for those of us who remember him. He relapsed almost daily and returned with another excuse and another reason for not stopping. Eventually he was banned for being a right pain and rudeness on both sides set in.

Like all of us here i used certain barriers, some use others and there is no right or wrong methods of stopping.

I tbink what annoys people can be the petty excuses given however we must keep going with them and keep advising them.

One day the light bulb moment may happen.

Best wishes

Posted on:
Mon, 30/10/2017 - 10:33



Yes some more excellent posts and you are all spot on really.

I admit that I cant always cope with trying to help everyone. Some stories overwhelm me and I wouldnt know where to start other than repeat advice already given. Im not even saying that I can possibly make a difference but I try and see a connection and be helpful if I can.

I realise that I can not take on responsibility as it can affect my mental balance. The forum connects me at some level of putting something back in. Its still very important to me that I keep in touch with the power of this addiction and the misery it causes

I feel for the people who dont seem ready to stop. They post again having taken no real steps to build a recovery. I wonder what they think the forum can offer them or if its a token gesture. Its been clear that some have not wanted to hear what we have to say. Some people get really defensive, some are rude and some go silent again which is all understandable with an addiction that kills people.

A recovery is built on a solid foundation of openness, honesty and an acceptance that its all too much to handle alone. I dont think there are various ways of dealing with it until that foundation is solid. To me it is a born again moment almost in the religious sense. Something clicks and washes over you...its not that you have all the answers....its that you are now ready to accept what you do not yet understand and go along with the recovery journey. 

Best wishes to everyone on the forum 

Posted on:
Mon, 30/10/2017 - 12:50



I have posted this on my own thread but the message sits nicely on this one also.

Courtesy of Bbc sport website

"John Hartson believes his addiction began with playing fruit machines in a Swansea social club where he collected glasses as a young teenager.

He warns that addicts must make a lifelong commitment to abstaining from gambling because they themselves want to.

"It's OK saying you want help but you have to have it within you to stick to the programme," he said.
"You have to say, 'I am in this for life.'

"A lot of addicts go [to places such as Gamblers Anonymous] for the wrong reasons. They go to satisfy their wife, because they are having a terrible time. They go to satisfy their parents and they give it a month and say they are all right now.

"The key to beating the addiction is you have to want to be there for yourself.

"When you're a gambling addict you've got to come to a decision that that's it for life.

"I can't ever, ever have a bet again."

Posted on:
Mon, 30/10/2017 - 14:04



You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink.

NOTHING changes until the cg decides his current life is no longer manageable.

A forum can be used for support but I think you can tell by looking at the sheer volume of posters that come and go (mainly go) that this isn't going to change somebody who isn't ready. Take it from a parent who has given love, support, and every single piece of advice that I have seen on here... tenfold. If the person isn't ready it falls on deaf ears and it isn't personal. 


Posted on:
Mon, 30/10/2017 - 14:21



It is really difficult as a lot of people have said on here, the quality of the advice is one thing but if the recepient isn't ready to hear it then it won't make any difference.

When my husband first tried to stop gambling he went to GA for a few weeks and gave up financial control but I think I was in a  bit of denial and so was he, so he stopped going to GA quite early and I gave him back his cards etc.

This time around all the signs were there that he was gambling but my naivity meant I missed them all and he spilralled into depression as well as gambling away a lot of money and getting us into a massive amount of debt. 

This time around seems different to last time (although I am not getting my hopes up), and he is going to counselling to address the root of the problem, he is going to GA at least once a week and we have both accepted that I will have to take control of the money and that's how it needs to stay. It isn't an ideal situation for either of us but I think it's more me that feels guilty for limiting his money when he has earned it than him resenting it - in fact, he actively envcourages it. The first time he was desperate to get control over his money back so this is definitely different.

I'm not sure what is different this time but he is definitely listening to advice and is now becoming more active in his GA meetings and wants to start chairing etc.. I agree with the sentiment above that some people just aren't ready to want to give up, and also they need to be giving up for the right reasons. It's one thing being determined after the shock of losing a large sum of money but once that shock wears off is where the real danger is. If someone thinks they are out of the woods and become complacent they may not think they need advice and so won't listen, and that could be when they are at their most vulnerable to do it again.

Posted on:
Sat, 25/11/2017 - 22:01



really good post!!

Loads of good comments and opinions. 

When I reflect on my own recovery along with relapses I realise that this addiction is hard work. Even now with loads of days gamble free I need to be on gaurd. I agree though that it only becomes possible when the person with the gambling addiction desperately wants to stop and will do everything and anything in their power to do so. 

Sympathy no, empathy yes, that feeling of failure at a relapse can be very distressing. Slowly someone who relapses week on week with no blocks or not looking for other support can be frustrating. This is especially because coming from the depths of this addiction and wanting it to stop and doing anything to achieve that goals makes it hard to empathise at times. 

I appreciate that sometimes it is hard to tell others about this addiction. I was very ashamed and embarrassed that I could fall trap to it. It was not an option for me in my first attempts at recovery. Once I engaged with support and realised that I was gripped by this addiction because of my inability to connect with people things slowly changed. However I would not have learnt this if I had not accepted help from counselling and support groups, and of course this site. Once’s again I learnt to connect with others and admit my addiction regardless of the opinion s or thoughts.

While I think this site is brilliant, sometimes people need more. The support is available and free which is even more reason to engage. What a great deal of people do not realise is that we really want people to succeed and be gamble free. 

The real issue is it is up to the addict. If the addict really wants to then they will adopt all the strategies and use all the support. They may still relapse a few times but at least the blocks and support will eventually work or be preventative. 

Addiction is hell because it just never goes away completely. But without giving in to the addiction life does get better and things do and can improve. 

Posted on:
Mon, 27/11/2017 - 16:44



Yes its a devastating and dangerous addiction because it creates its own barrier of confusion

Even over a period of forty years I had a tendency to think I was just getting carried away or a bit silly with / greedy for money rather than a full blown addict.

In a way its harder than any addiction to tell somebody about especially somebody close. Trying to explain putting £1000 of vital money into a slot machine is difficult to draw an analogy with. Its like a sort of conversation where I had seen leprechauns at the bottom of the garden.  It just makes absolutely no sense to the non gambler and it makes no sense to me in the cold realistic light of day. Its the most empty feeling and the only explanation is that I was addicted out of my mind.

Yet when stood infront of the machine the addicted mind has control.....the craving to play..... the dopamine.......the trance...the feeling that well Im £100 down now so had better keep going...the sinking feelings... the perceived near misses.......It will all come right in the end......the depression and emptiness with life ...not really wanting to go home.....the stress..bottling up the loneliness. It all comes together in the gambling session so I couldnt walk away even when I had thoughts of stopping.

It plays on the human mind and I actually had more of a feeling that the prize was moving towards me on a conveyor belt. I developed my own addiction zone as to how the machines work for me. Again no sense of reality. It was also a stress soother when I started even though it would cause loads more stress when I snapped out of it

Its an addiction that can seem less obvious than a substance addiction and I feel it attracts less sympathy. There was a natural tendency for some family members to just think me an idiot with money and a greedy stupid fool. That is until they understood the addiction a bit more

I cant deny that is what the addiction makes us look like on an initial level. However  I consider that gambling is very much like substance abuse and that I was playing for similar reasons that people ingest alcohol or take drugs.  Im still a bit confused how much the feelings about money played a role in this. I know I had thoughts of winning back my lunch or the price of a mobile top up. That may have been a trigger but machine gambling has always been a trigger in me since I was 12. Two hours later I was stood there hundreds down and in serious financial trouble when I took the time to consider it again.

I do understand why people are confused. I hope they will realise that recovery is worth all the work in coming to terms with the addiction.

Best wishes to everyone on the forum

Posted on:
Sun, 21/01/2018 - 14:03



I think that this site is a perfect example of how to get the right advice out to relapsers or first timers to recovery or anyone affected by gambling addiction or addicts.  Everything that is posted , blended together, has the diversity needed to help many people.  Every post is valid.  And I also respect how those who have worked recovery for years may want to get the right advise through to relapsers or even get frustrated with relapsers.  But, relapsing , is gambling addiction maybe paired with a thread of hope.  Because if a person relapses and is not totally in the dark about recovery , they can see hope .  People who have worked recovery give those who relapsed hope.  People who share stories of relapse help others to see themselves and their own actions through the post and it could be a motivator... very poignent and helpful , like a mirror.  Relapsers?  I wonder, are people relapsers?  It's the nature of this addiction and that is why sites like this are here.  The keep coming back motto from AA can save people from death.  Progress not perfection?  That's it.  It coud take a long time and it could be frustrating to friends/family and others who have worked recovery.  But, to the one who is still suffering... just having a site like this , even if it does not seem to be working for everyone ... perhaps it is working for them on some level.  I hope that everyone will just keep on sharing & this think that this was a great post topic.  tara2