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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. 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. Our 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, using a 12 STEP RECOVERY PROGRAM:
WHAT IS COMPULSIVE GAMBLING?
Compulsive gambling is an illness, progressive in its nature, which can never be cured, but can be arrested. Before coming to Gamblers Anonymous, many compulsive gamblers thought of themselves as morally weak, or at times just plain 'no good.' The Gamblers Anonymous concept is that compulsive gamblers are really very sick people who can recover if they will follow to the best of their ability a simple program that has proved successful for thousands of other men and women with a gambling or compulsive gambling problem.
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, it will never work for the person who will not face squarely the facts about this illness.
HOW CAN YOU TELL WHETHER YOU ARE A COMPULSIVE GAMBLER?
Only you can make that decision. Most people turn to Gamblers Anonymous when they become willing to admit that gambling has defeated them. Also, in Gamblers Anonymous, a compulsive gambler is described as a person whose gambling has caused growing and continuing problems in any department of his or her life. Many Gamblers Anonymous members went through terrifying experiences before they were ready to accept help. Others were faced with a slow, subtle deterioration which finally brought them to the point of admitting defeat.
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 Program. 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, OPEN MINDEDNESS, and WILLINGNESS are the key words in our recovery.
ISN'T COMPULSIVE GAMBLING BASICALLY A FINANCIAL PROBLEM?
No. Compulsive gambling is an emotional problem. A person in the grip of this illness creates mountains of apparently insolvable problems. Of course, financial problems are created, but they also find themselves facing marital, employment, or legal problems. Compulsive gamblers find friends have been lost and relatives have rejected them. Of the many serious difficulties created, the financial problems seem the easiest to solve. When a compulsive gambler enters Gamblers Anonymous and quits gambling, income is usually increased and there is no longer the financial drain that was caused by gambling, and very shortly, the financial pressures begin to be relieved. Gamblers Anonymous members have found that the best road to financial recovery is through hard work and repayment of our debts. Bankruptcy, borrowing and/or lending of money (bailouts) in Gamblers Anonymous is detrimental to our recovery and should not take place. The most difficult and time consuming problem with which they will be faced is that of bringing about a character change within themselves. Most Gamblers Anonymous members look upon this as their greatest challenge, which should be worked on immediately and continued throughout their lives.
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 known 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 principles seem 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.
CAN A COMPULSIVE GAMBLER EVER GAMBLE NORMALLY AGAIN?
No. The first bet to a compulsive gambler is like the first drink to an alcoholic. Sooner or later he or she falls back into the same old destructive pattern. Once a person has crossed the invisible line into irresponsible uncontrolled gambling he or she never seems to regain control. After abstaining a few months, some of our members have tried some small bet experimentation, always with disastrous results. The old obsession inevitably returned. Our Gamblers Anonymous experience seems to point to these alternatives: to gamble, risking progressive deterioration, or not to gamble, and develop a better way of life.
I ONLY GO ON GAMBLING BINGES PERIODICALLY. DO I NEED GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS?
Yes. Compulsive gamblers who have joined Gamblers Anonymous tell us that, though their gambling binges were periodic, the intervals between were not periods of constructive thinking. Symptomatic of these periods were nervousness, irritability, frustration, indecision and a continued breakdown in personal relationships. These same people have often found the Gamblers Anonymous program the answer to the elimination of character defects and a guide to moral progress in their lives.
IS GAMBLERS ANONYMOUS A RELIGIOUS PROGRAM?
No. Gamblers Anonymous is composed of people from many religious faiths along with agnostics and atheists. Since membership in Gamblers Anonymous requires no particular religious belief as a condition of membership, it cannot be described as a religious society. The Gamblers Anonymous recovery program is based on acceptance of certain spiritual values but the member is free to interpret these principles as he or she chooses.
GAMBLING, for the compulsive gambler is defined as follows:
Any betting or wagering, for self or others, whether for money or not, no matter how slight or insignificant, where the outcome is uncertain or depends upon chance or skill, constitutes gambling.