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