Tools for Problem Gambling Recovery Posted On

The journey of recovery from problem gambling can be an amazing experience. There will be challenges, barriers and pitfalls along the way.  Learn some ways and tools to prepare for and avoid many of these obstructions to recovery.

Learning About Yourself

Anyone taking on a new endeavor will need to know as much as they can.  Learning about problem gambling by reading and learning about the stories of those who have followed a similar path can be a huge help.  When we better understand the problem, we can start working towards a solution.  Just like going to the doctor to solve a medical condition.  The doctor runs some tests to better study their patient to understand the problem before identifying a solution.  Therefore, learn all you can about problem gambling to better understand the problem and be more mindful of its effects on loved ones. 

Also learn as much as possible about recovery from problem gambling.  Although there are many similarities between different addictions, gambling addiction recovery stands out on its own.  The simple fact is that someone in recovery from a gambling addiction doesn’t just walk away from gambling; they also carry their debt and can’t avoid the triggerof money.  Every day they need to look at money for food, rent, and to pay off their debts.  Their debt is their constant reminder of their addiction, a reminder of what their life was, and a reminder of the loved ones they hurt along the way.  Their constant contact with money can be a regular trigger that causes them their unavoidable thoughts about gambling.  This means they need to be constantly mindful of their thoughts when using money.


Mindfulness is emerging with abundant research as a tool for addiction recovery. Using mindfulness means simply being mindful of each choice, thought and belief.  It is a means of being completely aware of one’s life and using this awareness to improve their life.   As someone becomes more mindful of their life, they can begin to focus on things that are healthy for them and their recovery and begin avoiding things that are not, such as gambling.

Mindfulness in recovery from problem gambling is a tool that can help those in recovery stay on track.  This is done by being mindful of people time is spent with, places to spend time and activities to participate in.  For instance, how do these people, places or activities affect the person in recovery’s mood?  How do they affect their thoughts about themselves and their recovery lifestyle?  Being mindful of these and choosing the best people, places and activities for themselves will help positively support their recovery.

Supporting Recovery

One thing people in recovery need to be mindful of is the people closest to them.  The people someone in recovery from problem gambling associates with can make all the difference in their recovery.  If these people speak often about gambling and are gambling as a form of regular activity, it will be very difficult for the person in recovery to safely avoid gambling.  Therefore, they’ll need to begin finding new people to associate with in their recovery. 

Finding new people and developing new friendships can feel overwhelming, scary and lonely at first.  Being mindful of choices and participating in new healthy activities will welcome new groups of people into their lives.  Joining a new fitness club or gym, taking cooking classes, joining a book club and attending community events will bring anyone in front of a bunch of new people quickly.  Being mindful of what feels good, what activity is exciting, and what people inspire a healthy lifestyle is important. 

Engaging in new activities with new people will bring those in recovery to new places.  Being in new places and being mindful of the experience can slowly help replace the urge to go to old places.  Many of these old places may have been gambling related.  New places, with new people doing new things will help those in recovery stay on track, and hopefully create a new feeling of zest for life.

Tools for Assistance

There are many tools available to help support recovery from problem gambling. These tools are not the perfect solution on their own but can be a great piece of the recovery support puzzle. 

The first tool in this list is the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS). The BBGS is a screening tool to help someone identify if they may have a gambling problem.  Using three simple questions, anyone can read through and see if they may be struggling with problem gambling.  It can spark the person struggling to be more mindful of their gambling and seek additional help and support.

For those who are practicing mindfulness, but still find themselves compelled to gamble, the New York State Gaming Commission’s Voluntary Self-Exclusion (VSE) form can be a great program.  VSE is a tool to help individuals struggling with a gambling problem to exclude or ban themselves out of New York State gambling locations.  This tool is best implemented when an individual is working in conjunction with a trained clinician.

Tools aren’t always things, sometimes they’re groups of people.  Whether the person adversely affected is the person struggling with a gambling problem, or loved ones affected by the gambling, there are support groups available.  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 a loved one’s gambling.  Both groups offer support, guidance and hope along the journey. 

Treatment is Available

All of these tools work best when implemented in conjunction with a trained clinician ready to work with people adversely affected by problem gambling.  In New York State, anyone can find local treatment services by contacting their local Problem Gambling Resource Center (PGRC).  Each center is ready to connect those interested to local trained clinicians ready to help and offer a range of educational resources.

Recovery form problem gambling can be an amazing, life-changing journey. 

We hope everyone in recovery finds their way to hope, new purpose and a new zest for life!