Last Updated on March 5, 2023 by Michael Shackleford
Gamblers Anonymous is a group consisting of people who have been addicted to the sport and have come to identify themselves as problem gamblers. They have created this forum to reach out to members of the community to ensure safe and sustainable gambling practices. There are over 3,400,000 problem gamblers in the UK alone as of 2020.
History and Inception
Problem gambling is a threat like any other addiction. There is an unhealthy dependence on it and denial of the same. The members of the organization accept that the first step to beat the problem is to recognize it. There is a universal issue with all problem gamblers wherein they feel they are not addicted to it and can stop whenever they want. This leads many to imprisonment, poverty, and even death. Lives are torn apart and families drift away.
With the recognition, the members have come to realize the need to unite their voice and help the gambling community by identifying and helping the members suffering from it. They share their stories in an attempt to reach out. Gam-Anon had:-
- Began in January 1957
- Has regular meetups
- Achieved positive publicity
Mode of Operation
Gamblers Anonymous depends on various techniques to end the problem of gambling. They rely on spiritual principles that anyone can harness in their daily lives. An emotional approach and personal anecdotes make the journey to recovery smooth and hassle free. Kindness, humility, generosity, and honesty are practiced by the members to carry the positive message forward to the newcomers. They have received positive feedback from over 80% of their members.
Ease of Access
- No bar on membership. Adult men or women of any region, religion, or background can become members.
- No admission fee or monthly deposit is required. It is free and fair to all members.
- Complete assurance of privacy and individuality. There is no need to provide any proof of identification.
- International viability. Gamblers Anonymous is operational across nationalities.
- Independent of other organizations, countries, or ideological groups.
12 Step Recovery Programme
Gam-Anon has devised a 12 Step Recovery Program based on sound medical therapy as well as ancient spiritual principles accumulated down the generations. An overwhelming majority of users have reported that it is effective and stick to it in their daily lives. There is constant validation and encouragement which is a cornerstone in recovery.
There is also a 12 Step Unity Programme so that members do not lose faith in their arduous journey.
Questionnaire Targetting Problem Gambling
Gam-Anon has built a very effective and accurate questionnaire that determines if a person is suffering from a gambling addiction. It exhausts all aspects of the problem- emotional, financial, and psychological- and takes into account the effect addiction has on family life. It is future-proof and easy to navigate. All questions are answered in yes or no. They are single-lined and make taking the survey rather quick.
- US Meetings
The US meetings are held in three different formats. They can take place on any day at any desired time in business hours across all formats.
- Closed Meeting
These meetings have limited access and allow entry only to those who have or think they have an addiction and wish to address it.
- Modified Closed Meeting
These are close meetings that privilege certain people who can help in the recovery like doctors, therapists, and guests of first-time attendees.
- Open Meeting
Family members, friends, and partners can attend and chip in solidarity with the problem gamblers.
- Virtual Meetings
Covid 19 had everyone locked up in their rooms. It has increased the spurt of online gambling and along with it aggravated the problem. So, Gamblers Anonymous has come up with virtual meetings on Google Meet or Zoom to provide support remotely. The date and time of these are flexible so that people from all professions and lifestyles can join. It occurs across states. This inclusion has led to a 31% rise in response as opposed to a previous dip.
- International Meetings
They hold meetings targetting the population outside the USA as well, sometimes in multiple cities and states with date-time preference.
- LifeLine Bulletin
The bulletin is a monthly newsletter for the members, by the members. It is a safe space for sharing experiences and providing inspiration. Currently, all issues from November 2020 to October 2021 are available. The Group News section carries all the latest developments and achievements of the organization.
- Gam-Anon: Help for Family and Friends
Help for Family and Friends is an International Service Office catering to the gambling community to provide information regarding the problem and disseminate knowledge to anyone who furthers the cause of healthy gambling. It has information pertaining to both the general public and the professional community.
The store is kept up with books of all kinds. They range in self-help, meditational, and self-discipline. Merchandise with motivational quotes like mugs, cups, keychains is available. Other items sold are CDs, DVDs, pamphlets, and other multimedia material.
How to Reach Gamblers Anonymous
There are multiple hotlines for every state in the USA. Here we are providing three for reference.
- 1. Washington D.C.: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
- New York City: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
- Central Valley, California: 855-2CALLGA (855-222-5542)
Regional service offices have also been set up for increased outreach.
- Who is a problem gambler?
Anyone who cannot control the impulse to gamble and is governed by an irrational motivator that they would win is a problem gambler.
- How to get over it?
There is no unique solution to it. One has to remain disciplined and stick to a routine to transition out of their addiction into a healthy life.
- How Gam-Anon benefit?
Gam-Anon is an organization based on the desire to stop gambling addiction. Members work voluntarily out of a sense of community and camaraderie. There is no profit or social benefit behind it.
Gam-Anon is working to fight compulsive gambling. What makes them stand out is their inclusive policies expressed lucidly. They talk about addiction without the stigma associated with it. This goes a long way in making the members comfortable. A non-accusatory approach ensures the members do not feel guilty about their problem instead invest themselves in controlling it. Their service is holistic; by inviting family members in the process they help not only the individual but also the community.