Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What about G.A.?

Is G.A. the only way to stop gambling?

Most gamblers anonymous members would tell you that it is. For some people, I imagine that is true.

I have found, however, that much of what one HEARS from G.A. members is not necessarily what the LITERATURE says..what the PROGRAM is about.

The Gamblers Anonymous Program is based on the Original 12 step Program, Alcoholics Anonymous. The Big Book of AA defines the program and 'How it Works'... it talks about people who do not thoroughly follow the program and says "Their chances are less than average."

What the Literature says about the Gamblers Anonymous Program and stopping gambling:

The following are excerpts from the G.A. 'combo book'-

They concluded from their discussions that in order to prevent a relapse it was necessary to bring about certain character changes within themselves. In order to accomplish this, they used for a guide certain spiritual principles which had been utilized by thousands of people who were recovering from other compulsive addictions. The word spiritual can be said to describe those characteristics of the human mind that represent the highest and finest qualities such as kindness, generosity, honesty and humility. Also, in order to maintain their own abstinence they felt that it was vitally important that they carry the message of hope to other compulsive gamblers.

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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; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.

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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.

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Here are the steps which are a program of recovery. (*note..it does not say THE program of recovery)

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What is the first thing a compulsive gambler ought to do in order to stop gambling?
The compulsive gambler needs to be willing to accept the fact that he or she is in the grip of a progressive illness and has a desire to get well. Our experience has shown that the Gamblers Anonymous program will always work for any person who has a desire to stop gambling. However, will never work for the person who will not face squarely the facts about this illness.

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How does someone stop gambling through the Gamblers Anonymous program?
One does this through bringing about a progressive character change within oneself. This can be accomplished by having faith in - and following - the basic concepts of the Gamblers Anonymous Recovery and Unity Programs.
There are no short cuts in gaining this faith and understanding. To recover from one of the most baffling, insidious, compulsive addictions will require diligent effort. HONESTY, OPENMINDEDNESS, AND WILLINGNESS are the key words in our recovery.

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Why can't a compulsive gambler simply use willpower to stop gambling?
We believe that most people, if they are honest, will recognize their lack of power to solve certain problems. When it comes to gambling, we have know many problem gamblers who could abstain for long stretches, but caught off guard and under the right set of circumstances, they started gambling without thought of the consequences. The defenses they relied upon, through will power alone, gave way before some trivial reason for placing a bet. We have found that will power and self-knowledge will not help in those mental blank spots, but adherence to spiritual principals seems to solve our problems. Most of us feel that a belief in a Power greater than ourselves is necessary in order for us to sustain a desire to refrain from gambling.

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From the 'Sharing Recovery through Gamblers Anonymous' book:

Ultimately, to be rehabilitated, the compulsive gambler has to choose to break out of this destructive pattern. Realizing that such a choice exists is but the first step, however, and true recovery takes much more time and effort.

The question arises of where to go for help -- to a clergyman, doctor, therapist or friend. While the choice of any one of these counselors represents an affirmative step, it is unfortunate that the chances of rehabilitation through any of them are slim. One-on-one analysis, by itself, has a very poor record of helping compulsive gamblers.

What does work well is support therapy, and that is what the Fellowship of Gamblers Anonymous provides. This group accepts as a member any person who expresses a desire to stop gambling. Many thousands of compulsive gamblers have been rehabilitated through Gamblers Anonymous, and it is the most successful and effective means toward recovery that exists.

I love gamblers anonymous. I love the people and the program. Much of what I have learned from the PEOPLE about the program...does not appear to be supported by the literature.

For example... 'meetings make it' - well....this actually *IS* in the literature (the combo book)...but... I know many people, myself included, who have left gamblers anonymous meetings and drove straight to the casino.

I also know people who attend several meetings per week and have done so for years...and continue to gamble.

While meetings can be a wonderful, uplifting experience and often times...attending a meeting can give one the strength and clarity to continue to make the right choices....in my opinion...attending meetings is (alone) NOT going to help most of us 'make it'.

Most of the people that I have encountered at G.A. believe that if they miss a meeting or two, they will gamble...they are afraid not to go...they live in fear of returning to it...well...considering the misery that we know it holds and knowing what is at risk for many of us if we return to the cycle...I suppose that's understandable...but the LITERATURE does not support this...and much of the 12 step philosiphy is about ridding ones self of fear.

I have seen many people, myself included, discouraged from questioning things...I have heard that 'we don't need to know why' and it has even been implied that...the people who must figure it out...end up gambling again 'People who try to figure it out, go back out'....the literature says, 'Perhaps' when asked if it is important to know why we gambled .

Well....it is important to ME.

What it comes down to is...this is MY recovery.

This is MY life!!!!

Responsibility for how I live it rests squarely on MY shoulders.

the Gamblers Anonymous program helped me to do that...to take my life back.


Recovered Compulsive Gambler said...

I love the take on Gamblers ANonymous. I never thought I'd say this.... But I'm very fortunate to be an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler.

Although , GA helped me in the beginning, I truly struggled with the fellowship constantly making changes to their literature and one of the changes being - Taking the word "suggestion" out of the intro. to the recovery program. I'm so fortunate that in AA. the program is laid out and people have similar experiences.

It's amazing, almost evryone in G.A. I met felt like they live in some sort of FEAR from gambling. That is something I did not want.

Today, for me... It's about gettign back to basics in AA and trying to help Compulsive gamblers also.

Anonymous said...

WOW... I can't believe I found two people who were on the ball. Haha I have been searching for people who knew what the hell they are talking about. My friend told me this if I thought meetings would solve my problem, I better find a 24-hour meeting. That was me. Sure I could go an hour and not gamble by going to a meeting but once I left I was screwed.

It seems like me that you two are gambling addicts not problem gamblers. The difference I found is that problem gamblers can stop out of fear. Gambling addicts don't care about the consequences. I think many people in GA are however problem gamblers. I sure couldn't go to a meeting and stop gambling. I became more miserable trying to do this. I also know that GA has grown away from the 12 steps, God and the spiritual program of action. The message however is the 12 steps because this program was founded with regards to the gambling addict.

While I am not an alcoholic, I went through the steps with an AA sponsor and I am so thankful I did because I couldn't have stop any other way.

I am young, 20, and have over a year from my last bet and hope to bring GA's focus back to the 12 steps.

Peg said...

Unlike the two of you, I do not have any experience with AA (nor the benefit of an AA sponsor).

I use the AA Big Book as a guide..along with the 12 and 12...and listen to AA speakers on the web....among other things :)

I completely understand feeling 'fortunate'....if I had never been through that hell...I would not know this joy.

There is more to life than I ever imagined.

Love to you both,