Self-Help Meetings

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What is Gamblers Anonymous (GA)?

Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from a gambling problem.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop gambling. There are no dues or fees for Gamblers Anonymous membership; they are self-supporting through their own contributions. Gamblers Anonymous is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any cause. Their primary purpose is to stop gambling and to help other compulsive gamblers do the same.

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real problem gamblers. No one likes to think they are different from their fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our gambling careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could gamble like other people. The idea that somehow, some day, we will control our gambling is the great obsession of every compulsive gambler. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of prison, insanity, or death.

We learned we had to concede fully to our innermost selves that we are compulsive gamblers. This is the first step in our recovery. With reference to gambling, the delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed. We have lost the ability to control our gambling. We know that no real compulsive gambler ever regains control. All of us felt at times we were regaining control, but such intervals—usually brief—were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced that gamblers of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period of time we get worse, never better. Therefore, in order to lead normal happy lives, we try to practice to the best of our ability, certain principles in our daily affairs.

Answer GA’s 20 Questions to see if you might be a compulsive gambler.

For more information on the program and meetings in PA, visit www.gamblersanonymous.org.

What is Gam-Anon?

Gam-Anon is a 12 Step self-help fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem of another. They understand as perhaps few can, and they are familiar with worry and sleepless nights and promises made only to be broken.

With the help of Gam-Anon, find your way back to a normal way of thinking and living, whether or not your loved ones continue to gamble. Gam-Anon believes that a change in attitude is of boundless help to others, as well as to gamblers.

Gam-Anon is not a religious organization or a counseling agency. It is not a treatment center, nor is it allied with any organization offering such services. No dues or fees are required. Membership is voluntary, requiring only that one’s own life has been affected by someone else’s gambling problem.

  • Are you concerned about how the gambling of a loved one is affecting your life?
  • Is the gambling of someone dear to you creating anxiety and worry?
  • Are you having financial problems due to the gambling of a loved one or family member?
  • Are you in financial turmoil or emotional distress and not sure why? Could gambling be the reason?
  • Are you worried about the emotional health and/or financial security of a loved one who is gambling?

How do I know if the gambling of my loved one is a problem?
The information on the Gam-Anon website may help you determine if there is a gambling problem. You are welcome to attend any Gam-Anon meeting to listen to experienced members and ask questions. If there is no meeting in your area, contact the Gam-Anon International Service Office at gamanonoffice@gam-anon.org or 718-352-1671.

What is accomplished at Gam-Anon meetings?
Attempts to find the answers to such questions as:

  • What is my role as the loved one of a compulsive gambler?
  • How can I cope with the problem?
  • How can I be of the greatest help to my gambler who is still gambling?
  • How can I be the greatest help to my gambler who is in recovery in Gamblers Anonymous?
  • How do I address the financial issues caused by the gambling?
  • How can I deal with my anger, fear and resentment?

What is the cost of attending Gam-Anon?
There are no dues or fees. Members contribute what they can at their meetings to pay meeting expenses.

Is Gam-Anon part of Gamblers Anonymous?
No. Gam-Anon and Gamblers Anonymous each have its own legally recognized organization and its own program. However, we are cooperating organizations and encourage attendance in each other’s programs. Gam-Anon has learned that we can support our gamblers in recovery by following our own program, and understanding and respecting the GA program.

Can I attend Gam-Anon if my gambler is still gambling?
Yes, of course. Many of our members have loved ones who are still gambling. Gam-Anon meetings help us realize that we are not alone with our problems. The steps and tools of the program help us to take control of our lives in spite of the gambling and problems caused by the gambling. We use the Gam-Anon program to build our own inner core of strength and serenity and learn practical tools to help us cope with the problems caused by the gambling.

What if there is no Gam-Anon meeting near to me?
Visit www.gam-anon.org or contact the Gam-Anon International Service Office at gamanonoffice@gam-anon.org for information and assistance.

How does the program work?
The 12 Step Program is fundamentally based on ancient spiritual principles and rooted in sound medical therapy. The best recommendation for the program is the fact that “it works.”

Here are the steps, which are a program of recovery:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over gambling—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to a normal way of thinking and living.
  3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of this Power of our own understanding.
  4. We made a searching and fearless moral and financial inventory of ourselves.
  5. We admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. We were entirely ready to have these defects of character removed.
  7. We humbly asked God (of our understanding) to remove our shortcomings.
  8. We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. We make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having made an effort to practice these principles in all our affairs, we tried to carry this message to other compulsive gamblers.