Recovery is possible.

Recovery

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines recovery as: a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential. The journey of recovering from a problem with gambling is unique to each person but can be a powerful and meaningful experience. It’s important to know that just like with any new endeavor there can be challenges, barriers and setbacks along the way.

Treatment Works.

Recovery from a problem with gambling is possible, and treatment works. There are millions of Americans living their best life in recovery who experienced problems with gambling. The more you learn about problematic gambling and recovery from it, the smoother the recovery journey will be.

What is Recovery?

Recovery from any kind of addiction looks different for different people, but most people agree that recovery is about finding hope in life by gaining a better understanding of one’s self. This may include looking at your strengths and weaknesses and making new mindful decisions around how to live with purpose through self-improvement.

How Recovery Works

The recovery process involves seeking the support needed to aid in vulnerable, healthy human connection and environmental change to pursue a gambling-free lifestyle and understanding how to avoid the behaviors which led to gambling becoming a problem. Those seeking recovery from problems with gambling may make mindful decisions to live a gambling-free lifestyle, understanding that even a single bet could cause a reoccurrence of symptoms.

One way to do this is to understand the persons, places, and things that elicit an increased desire to gamble. To find success in recovery, a person may make mindful decisions to engage with new or different friends, avoid certain locations, or eliminate items which may cause someone to experience the urge to gamble.

Recovery is an ongoing journey of growth that does not happen overnight, but instead with support, time and mindful choices.

There are many routes a person can choose when starting their recovery journey, from professional treatment, to self-help books, as well as 12-step programs like Gamblers Anonymous, and Gam-Anon (for family members).

Tools

Many tools are available to help support recovery from problem gambling. These tools are not a solution on their own but can be a great starting point.

Choosing to begin a recovery journey can be overwhelming at first, and that is completely normal. In North Carolina there is a growing community of people in recovery and individuals who support recovery and are available to help. You can access these individuals and learn more about recovery by calling the helpline.

Visit Sunrise Community site >

Groups

Problems with gambling can affect both the gambler and people they care about, and there are support groups available for anyone who is impacted by gambling. Gamblers Anonymous is available for anyone struggling with problem gambling interested in surrounding themselves with others on their journey to recovery. Similarly, Gam-Anon is available for anyone affected by someone else’s gambling.

Visit Gamblers Anonymous site >

Recovery Coaches

A recovery coach’s goal is to serve as a personal guide and mentor for people seeking recovery from a problem with gambling and help to remove obstacles and barriers to recovery. A recovery coach’s job is to support a client in pursuing their own goals. A coach will offer someone the tools and guidance needed to follow the path they’ve already chosen. This can include:

  • Helping a person form a plan of action
  • Directing that person to the right resources
  • Helping them navigate the recovery system
  • Providing accountability and support
  • Offering guidance in developing new behavior patterns
  • Helping them view their progress objectively
  • Assisting in harm reduction for addictive behaviors

Recovery Coaches

A peer support specialist is a person with “lived experience” who has been trained to support those who struggle with problems with gambling. Their personal experience of these challenges provide peer support specialists with expertise that professional training cannot replicate.

Peers are positive role models and offer hope to others, demonstrating by their own life that recovery is possible. This can include providing:

  • Emotional support – helping the person improve their confidence as they navigate their recovery journey
  • Informational support – helping those in recovery get the information they need to explore recovery options
  • Instrumental support – helping a person navigate and set goals for their recovery
  • Affiliation support – helping a person create a support system around them and develop a sense of community

If you are interested in a referral for our Peer Support Specialist or Recovery Coach program please contact Amanda.winters@dhhs.nc.gov for more information.

Screening/ Assessments

While only a trained clinician can diagnose a gambling addiction, screening tools and assessments can be used to help someone identify if there are risks that indicate they could be struggling with their gambling.

Take the quiz >

Literature

Self-help workbooks and guides can help someone who is motivated to stop gambling or to reduce the problems associated with gambling. These tools can be effective but are not a substitute for professional help.

Visit Division Addiction resources site >

Gamban

Gamban is a software for blocking gambling sites and applications which can be used on computers, laptops, tables and mobile devices. It is free for residents of North Carolina and can be a powerful too to aid in willpower and reduce risk of returning to gambling.

Visit the Gamban site >

Voluntary Self-Exclusion

For those who find themselves compelled to gamble, Voluntary Self-Exclusion (VSE) is an option available at casinos in North Carolina and with the lottery. VSE is a tool to help individuals struggling with a gambling problem to exclude or ban themselves out of legal North Carolina gambling locations.

Visit the casino exclusion site >

Visit the lottery exclusion site >

What Makes Problems with Gambling Difficult?

Although there are many similarities between addictions, gambling disorder is different in many ways. One which stands out the most is money. While walking away from gambling may be difficult, avoiding money and other situations that may cause feelings of disease or the desire to use may be nearly impossible. People need money almost every day for necessities like food, rent, and to pay off their debts – which can be a constant reminder of their addiction and create feelings which could lead to a reemergence of symptoms. This means they need to be constantly mindful of their thoughts and feelings when using money.

Gambling offers a powerful sense of reward and achievement which may motivate people to keep gambling. Research on gambling addiction suggests that gambling can release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is also linked to chemical addictions. This release of dopamine can make a gambler feel elated, and even “high.”

The desire to gamble can be heightened by external or internal events, or both, like stress. Many people who experience a problem with gambling use gambling to escape or manage stress. This can create a vicious cycle of gambling to manage stress, but the gambling creates more stress, leading to progressively more gambling.

Gambling often occurs alongside other addictions, especially alcoholism. The relationship between two or more addictions can make recovery more challenging.

Many people in recovery who struggled with gambling choose not to be around gambling to avoid a return of symptoms. This can be very difficult. Because gambling is a popular, legal activity that is available almost everywhere from church fundraisers to sports events, avoiding temptation can feel like a full-time job.