THE TREATMENT OF COMPULSIVE GAMBLING
Since the highly successful Alcoholics Anonymous program, many other Twelve Step programs have subsequently been formed which have saved many thousands of lives over many decades. In all cases however, individual success is normally dependent on the willingness of the participants to continue to attend meetings and work the Twelve Steps.
The illness of compulsive gambling is cunning, baffling and powerful. A casual approach to working the steps is not likely to be successful. It is critical that the program of Recovery Road Online and working the steps become the top priority in the life of the compulsive gambler. Just as diabetics cannot take their insulin only when it is convenient for them, so it is with the compulsive gambler and the program of Recovery Road. Some members say that they do not have the time for these meetings because they are busy with their work or their family. What we have learned is that the compulsive gambler should be prepared to lose whatever they put ahead of their Recovery Road program. If they put their work ahead of Recovery Road, they should be prepared to lose their job. If they put their family ahead of Recovery Road, they should be prepared to lose their family. Invariably we discover that wonderful paradox that when we put our recovery program first, most everything else in our lives – especially our families, our careers and our finances,
usually gets much better.
Perhaps the greatest challenge with treating addictions such as substance abuse or compulsive gambling is that one of the major symptoms is resistance to treatment. People with illnesses such as cancer or HIV are often willing to go to very great lengths to modify their lifestyles – in some cases even with a very poor likelihood of success. On the other hand, many with a compulsive gambling problem have described an inner voice that says things to them like “I am different. Recovery Road Online will not work for me”, “I’m too
busy or too tired to go to these meetings”, “Maybe this next time the gambling will be different”, or “What’s the point? My situation is hopeless”. This inner voice is really nothing more than the illness itself. As many addicts say, “I have a disease that tells me I do not have a disease”. This is why compulsive gamblers cannot simply reason or think their way into recovery. The simple fact is that you cannot fix a broken brain with a broken brain. Recovery therefore requires more than just thinking, it requires the positive action of working the steps.
Many newcomers to the Recovery Road Online Fellowship also find the Twelve Steps to be very mysterious or religious and the Steps seem to have no apparent direct relation to solving their gambling problems. To these skeptics we say, “We too were skeptical when we got here, but this program saved our lives. We encourage you to have a little faith and try to follow some simple suggestions. The value and the benefits of the Twelve Steps usually do not become fully apparent until after we work them”.
We also encourage newcomers to not be put off by the use of “God”, “Higher Power”, or “Spiritual”. If you have any prejudices about these terms, we encourage you to stay open-minded as you come to realize that these words are often used differently in Recovery Road Online than you might experience in many religious environments. Thousands of people of all faiths and non-believers alike have come to realize there is nothing in the Twelve Steps that requires them to compromise their core beliefs or non-beliefs on spiritual matters.