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If you are struggling with compulsive gambling, you may be wondering what the best treatment plan is for you going forward. There are a few options, the most common being Gamblers Anonymous or outpatient counselling. However, there is also the option of attending a residential treatment center for gambling. 

Compulsive Gambling Treatment Options

When coping with compulsive gambling, it can be hard to attend meetings, but some have success with Gamblers Anonymous, especially because it’s easy to access. 

However, more dangerous habits could require a separation from your environment completely. Residential gambling treatment also includes other helpful programs, such as financial counseling. 

Attending Gamblers Anonymous for Gambling Addiction

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a community of men and women struggling with compulsive gambling, where they can share their experiences with each other in a safe space with the common goal of quitting gambling. Anyone with a desire to stop gambling can attend a GA meeting at no cost. GA follows a 12-step recovery program that encourages the gambler to take responsibility for their actions so that they can move forward in life without gambling. 

GA is an excellent first step for those who are looking to connect with others who are going through the same struggles, and to gain more insight on how to combat a gambling addiction. The hope is that attendees form friendships and are able to support each other in their daily lives, outside of GA. 

Unfortunately, in many cases, the occasional GA meeting is not enough to keep the gambler abstinent from gambling. 

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Is it Enough to Only Attend Gamblers Anonymous?

Every person is different and recovers in their own way and at their own pace, and some may find that they get enough help and support from GA alone. However, depending on where you live, you might not have access to in-person GA meetings. Although some meetings are now being offered online, they are often infrequent, and it doesn’t necessarily provide the support or accountability that you need. 

It’s important to note that addiction and shame go hand-in-hand. Many people find that if they relapse, they don’t want to return to GA meetings, for fear of feeling ashamed or judged by their peers. If a gambler chooses to isolate, their addiction could further escalate, and the vicious cycle continues. 

Many people who gamble compulsively also have underlying mental health disorders, such as PTSD, depression, or anxiety. What you need is to get to the root of your gambling problem, and it will likely take more than GA to do that. 

When a gambler attends counselling in addition to GA, this increases their likelihood of success, but this likelihood increases significantly more when the gambler attends a residential treatment center to address their gambling problem. 

 

Benefits of Attending a Residential Treatment Center

If you find that what you are learning from GA isn’t sticking with you and you continue to sink deeper into your gambling addiction, then it’s time to try something new. While attending a residential treatment center may seem extreme, that’s really not the case. A gambling problem needs to be treated with the same urgency as any other health condition. Here are a few benefits to leaving your daily routine and attending a residential treatment center. 


Connection

Addiction thrives on loneliness, and gambling can cause a person to become very isolated, especially with online gambling. Being a part of a community is essential for recovery - if you try to recover without help from anyone, you will most likely be unsuccessful. 

When you come to treatment, you are surrounded by other individuals who are in the same boat as you. What we consistently hear from our clients post-departure from Algamus, is that one of their most meaningful experiences was the depth of relationships that they developed with others during the course of their treatment, and many leave as life-long friends. 

You will also have the constant support of staff who are highly experienced in the reality of gambling addiction, and can empathize with what you’re going through.

New Environment & Routine

Getting away from what is familiar in your life may be the breath of fresh air that you need. This may help you identify what was triggering you in your daily life. For example, if you tend to stop by the casino on the way home from work, taking some time away will allow you the time and space to break these unhealthy habits. You may be facing stress in your relationships or your job, and a new environment can give you a new perspective on how to better handle these situations. 

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Algamus mountain lodge in Prescott, Arizona


Evaluation of Underlying Mental Health Disorders

Gambling is usually triggered by unpleasant emotions and the desire to escape from them. At a residential treatment center, there will be a strong focus on not only treating the gambling disorder, but any mental health disorders that lead to gambling. Once the gambler learns ways to cope with their mental health disorders, this can significantly improve their ability to refrain from gambling.

Aftercare Support 

At Algamus, we understand that recovery is a whole other story once you are back to your normal routine. Before leaving our facility, we work with our clients to form an individualized aftercare plan so that they aren’t left in the dark once they go back home. We want to see our clients succeed, which is why we provide them with helpful resources, and check in with them periodically after their stay at Algamus. 

Once a client has completed our program, we recommend that they continue to go to Gambler’s Anonymous and outpatient counselling for as long as they need. 

If you or a loved one are looking to stop gambling and need support, reach out to us to speak to one of our certified gambling counsellors. We can help determine whether or not our gambling-specific treatment program would be a good fit for you, and provide other resources that can be of help to you. 

Topics: Gambling Addiction, Recovery, gamblers anonymous

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.