The Problem gambling Recovery Model
Problematic behaviour is not a static condition, it fluctuates throughout a person's life, moving through various states of greater or lesser severity as sometimes people gamble more, sometimes less; sometimes experience problems, and sometimes not. Recovery from addiction is also a fluid process. The stages of recovery are better viewed as a set of interacting components that people cycle through more than once as they attempt to achieve sustained recovery.
Social excitement, bragging about your wins.
Everyone likes to win. You get a rush of endorphins and feel fantastic as your mates cheer you on. But many people who gamble problematically cling to the dream of a big win. They often win enough small amounts to keep them hooked, and gamble away even those small wins. The desire, hope and belief in a big win is seen as a way to improve life, prove their worth and raise their self-esteem.
Losing and chasing -
Gambling alone, lying to people, debts mounting, borrowing.
The odds of losing are way bigger than the chances of winning. When problem gambling begins to develop people will start playing more and more often. They will gamble alone now, rather than with friends. They begin to borrow money as they lose more and more. They start lying to people about their whereabouts and cover up concerns about unpaid bills, debts being incurred and money borrowed from friends and family not being repaid. At this stage many people begin to realise they might have a problem, but they don't really want to stop gambling as they need the money to pay off their debts so they keep on chasing the loss.
Remorse, panic, alienation, illegal acts.
Chasing leads to further loss. People with gambling problems will gamble past their financial limits. When they win they will reinvest their winnings in hopes of winning more. When they lose they feel a sense of panic and will chase the loss with more gambling in attempt to win big and avert financial crisis. People at this stage can feel isolated and alienated, afraid of being caught out and can resort to sealing or embezzling money to cover their gambling losses and fund more gambling.
Suicide, Arrest, Divorce, Emotional breakdown.
Often people with gambling problems will lose, borrow and/or steal so much money it is impossible to keep it covered up. The person who gambles then faces legal issues, relationship breakdown and emotional and financial crises. Many gamblers talk of reaching 'rock bottom': their lowest point, where they realise the devastating impact gambling is having on their life and feel that they simply cannot go on in the future as they have in the past. This is a dangerous time for a problem gambler as they often contemplate suicide and gamble excessively to escape feelings such as fear and shame.
Critical change -
Honesty, realistic, taking stock, decision making.
There comes a point when people begin to reassess what they are doing and recognises how their behaviour affects others. They experience an epiphany: a moment of insight into the circumstances of their lives, and the role that gambling has played in contributing to those conditions. Close friends and family often act as a trigger for change – either by challenging individuals' gambling behaviour directly, or by representing a lens through which individuals are able to see the effects of their gambling. At this stage the person who gambles problematically will admit to self and to others that they have a problem with gambling. They will take an honest and realistic stock of their life and will take steps to change their gambling behaviour.
Restoration, self-respect, goals, regaining trust.
At this stage the person who gambles problematically will take concrete steps to cut down, control or stop their gambling behaviour. Strategies include making decisions regarding who will handle the family's money, establishing and maintaining a healthy budget, tolerating tension and developing stress reduction techniques, and developing appropriate leisure activities as a substitute for the preoccupation with gambling. These changes often increase family closeness and the person with gambling problems gains positive self-esteem and self-acceptance.
Facing problems, insight, understanding, spiritual growth, helping others.
At this point the person who had problems with gambling will have a new-found confidence, a 'sense of relief' or 'weight lifted' as a result of being able to talk freely and openly and face their gambling problems. Their sense of self-acceptance increases. Friendships and relationships will be reforged. People experience a reawakening a sense of moral purpose and begin to live again in line with their core values. They now have a toolbox of strategies and supports to turn to at times when they feel themselves tempted to gamble again.