Support from others with lived experience

People often find the support of others is important to help them stop gambling. This may be family, friends, or treatment services. For many people, an important part of their recovery journey is connecting with others that have also experienced gambling difficulties.

There tends to be so little understanding of gambling difficulties. So, people feel more understood and able to open up with those that have been through a similar experience. Those close to them are often affected by their gambling. So, it is helpful to have a separate safe place.

People have shared their experiences through Gamblers Anonymous, other gambling support groups, and via social media

Yeah, it’s a tough one, but there’s people who understand and like I was saying, I found there’s a lot more online presence now. There’s a lot more people. There’s a hashtag on Twitter like Recovery Posse or something, and there’s all sorts of people struggling with all sorts of addictions on there, and they’re always willing to help. If you go on, they know what it’s like because most people don’t understand. That’s why it’s hard talking to people about it because they just don’t understand. But other people have been through the same thing, they do understand. You know, it’s like they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. And it’s true. You speak to people about it and people who are going through the same thing as you and it can really help


When I finally quit, and finally stopped, I relied on social media. I relied on Twitter a hell of a lot. There’s people out there that really, really helped me through it. I suppose it falls in the category of lived experience. I was talking to these people with lived experience, people had done it, they had done it themselves, and given up.

Some feel that people are more understanding of their situation because they were, or are, going through something similar. Everyone is different. But people have said they found many similarities between their experiences and other people’s experiences.

What I tell people is it’s not a one size fits all in terms of recovery, right but I will always be a massive, massive advocate for peer support and for lived experience because I don’t think there’s anything more powerful than having an opportunity to share and open up to someone who’s gone through something similar to you

My friend groups aren’t the same as what they used to be. You could look at that being a positive and a negative. Positive in a way that I’m with like-minded people now, people who can help us, people who can support us. In the other respect, I’ve known these people for 30 years, like my friends from school, they all still drink, they all still gamble… I’ve had some really good times with them people. At the same time, obviously, when I told them I had a gambling problem, they were like, “Oh, it’s not that bad, man. Surely, you can just spend £20 a month,” and I’m like, “You just don’t understand. You just don’t have a clue.” Obviously, when I’m with these other people, it’s just like, “Do you want to go for a coffee?” Then we just talk about our experiences, and it’s just brilliant to have.

No one judges anybody. We’ve all got our stories to tell, but no one– We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. I might do things what they had not done, or they might have done things I’d not done, but it’s still the same boat. All addictions are different, but they’re saying they’re all the same at the same time.

As a result, many feel as if there is no judgement between them. They feel comfortable talking about their experiences with people who understand and will listen to them.

I was driving [to GA] and I wasn’t in the best frame of mind at the time anyway. I was like maybe I just won’t go in; I’ll just pretend. I can honestly say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done because everyone’s so lovely. They’re so nice. They’re not judgey, and they make you feel welcome and everyone’s in the same boat. Obviously, there’s different degrees of how it’s affected you and things like that, but you’re all in the same situation. When I’ve spoken to everybody there, because I’ve made quite good friends there and it’s so surreal how our lives are so similar.

At first you think, “Why has it chosen me?” You feel isolated. I’m on my own. I’ve got a problem here and nobody else seems to have it, only me. Then you go to a GA meeting, all the different functions, you think, “Actually, I’m not on my own. There’s other people out there.” Probably more out there who’ve not realized they’ve got a problem. It’s definitely not you. It’s just a problem worldwide, really. You’re not on your own, and you can definitely get help for it.

Many people have created friendships and networks with others with lived experience, both in person and online.

I’m engaging with people who are six years out of treatment, but I needed that to stabilize my recovery for when I came out and I’ve made some really good friends. We’re then good friends now and started doing the Big Step last year. I did the Big Step walk. We did Gretna Green to Wembley Stadium in 10 days. We’ve done one this year already heading forward to Glasgow. We’ve got another one pencilled in Manchester to Liverpool in July, but for me, it’s about meeting new people. If I’ve got anything in common with them, can they give me something for my recovery, because I’m not going to like everybody that I see, but the people that I engage with and everything like that, I do like become close to and they’re close to me, but we need to do that all the time. As long as we’re building, as long as we’re still learning about ourselves, then we’re still moving forward, and that’s what I want to do every day. Every day I want to move one step forward.


These networks have made them feel less isolated. They have someone to turn to when they feel the urge to gamble or are struggling.

I don’t think about gambling a great deal, but it still happens. A couple of weeks ago, I was just in the pub, and it was a Saturday afternoon and, you know, the telly’s are on and it’s the scores coming through live. So that was a trigger for me because my mind always goes to in-play betting. A goal would come at 2-0 after ten minutes and my brain just started going ‘more goals, more goals this half’. And my hand went straight on my phone, you know, it’s just an automatic reaction, to get my phone out and have a look at what the price would be. So, you know, I just got up and moved seats, away from that telly, and sat next to a telly that showed the horse racing. Horse racing didn’t trigger me. I still associate it with gambling, you know. I just messaged somebody, you know, just a WhatsApp message, saying crikey, you know, this just happened. And it’s that automatic response from somebody who knows exactly what you mean.


As I picked up followers on my works Twitter, I ended up following them on my personal and it suddenly became a bit of a blur. The convergence between the two happened over a period of months and months, and it just it happened naturally to be honest with you but that was my experience. It was really, really good because then I was able to speak to people that were in this environment, which were working in this environment, and I was connecting with them initially on a professional level. But then, as I was explaining that I was no different to them, I was a recovering gambling addict and you start to form bonds and relationships and friendships, and then that network grows. And I found it really, really, really useful to be fair.

Get Support

If you feel like you need support or someone to talk to about your own or someone else’s gambling, there are several organisations who can offer help, support and answer any questions you may have.

Take Part

We are inviting people to share their experiences of any kind of difficulties due to gambling.