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Pathological Gambling: Diagnosis & Treatment Gambling continuing education addiction counselor CEUs

Section 7

CEU Question 7 | CEU Test | Table of Contents | Gambling
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On the last track we discussed attaining and maintaining abstinence from gambling.  Three effective methods for attaining and maintaining abstinence from gambling are self help groups, photographs, and time management. 

On this track we will discuss relapse prevention.  How can a gambler serious about recovery fend off relapses?  Three simple guidelines to avoiding relapse and staying stopped are using support systems, watching company, and watching where they go.  As you listen to this track, consider how you might apply these guidelines directly to the gambler or how they may be suggested to the family.

Three Guidelines to Avoiding Relapse

Guideline #1 - Using Support Systems
First, let’s discuss using support systems. Whether it is Gambler’s Anonymous or a therapist, the recovering gambler usually needs to make use of his support structure. How might you encourage the family of your gambling client to persuade the client to attend meetings regularly, participate, talk, and listen?  I find that the family can often be of great benefit to the client regarding working through the steps of recovery outlined either in group or private therapy. 

Clients like George, age 47, often find group therapy beneficial.  George stated, "Listening to newcomers tell their stories really helps me.  I hear what they are going through and they sound just like I was." George had been in recovery from his gambling problem for three years when I last spoke with him. George indicated that he still went back to meetings, simply to ‘remind’ himself of the past.

George stated, "After a long enough period of time, I get complacent.  I start thinking I have everything under control. Then I see the new people coming in and they show me exactly where I am.  And I get strength from that."

Guideline #2 - Watching Company
Next, let’s discuss watching company.  Just like an alcoholic in recovery is admonished to dispense with drinking buddies and find a new of pals, the gambler is also encouraged to avoid social interactions which promote gambling.  Warren, age 37, asked about his wife, Lauren’s friends. 

Warren stated, "Lauren and her friends go out every Wednesday.  They call it girl’s night out, but they always wind up at the casino.  I’m worried that if Lauren’s continues to hang out with them, she’ll relapse."  How might you have responded to Warren’s concern? 

I stated, "If Wednesday nights are ‘girls’ night out’ at the casino, maybe Lauren can find some different ‘girls’ for whom Wednesday nights are Bible study nights or book club nights.  This doesn’t necessarily have to mean giving up the friendship of her former gambling compatriots, but it does mean not tempting recovery by consorting with them in gambling venues.  If they remind her too much of her gambling career, however, it may mean finding new friends. 

Guideline #3 - Watching Where They Go
In addition to using a support system and watching company, a third way to avoid relapse is watching where they go.  As you know, it’s one thing to lead a normal and settled life in a society in which gambling opportunities are everywhere, but it’s another thing altogether to put recovery to unnecessary tests.  The difference between the two depends on how strong the urges and how great the temptations.  If a client can drop in on a convenience store for a sandwich without catching ‘lotto fever,’ then by all means he or she needs not deprive himself. 

But, clearly, any activities or places which fill the recovering gambler with a yearning for action may require avoidance.  Recovering compulsive gambler Mike Brubaker, who, as you may know, counsels gamblers, misses raffles and fund raising because of the temptations that those activities present.  Mike states, "I always try to think through what would happen if I won anything.  My mind would start racing and before I knew it, I would be off and running.  I have to keep reminding myself that even when I won, I lost because winning always led to more gambling." 

Would you agree that Mike’s avoidance is a judgment call, and that how recovering addicts handle situations will vary?

Clearly more risky to recovery is outright jeopardizing recovery or tempting fate.  For example, I client who is planning the family’s vacation in Las Vegas is clearly not avoiding relapse.  Also, accompanying friends to a nearby Indian casino or riverboat ‘just to watch’ would be beyond tempting.  As you are well aware, the mere sight of a piece of rock cocaine induces cravings in cocaine addicts despite how long they have been clean.  Could the family member of your client benefit from that knowledge as it relates to gambling addiction?

On this track we have discussed staying stopped.  How can a gambler serious about recovery fend off relapses?  Three simple guidelines to avoiding relapse are staying stopped are using support systems, watching company, and watching where they go.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Gavriel-Fried, B., Moretta, T., & Potenza, M. N. (2020). Associations between recovery capital, spirituality, and DSM–5 symptom improvement in gambling disorder. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 34(1), 209–217.

Hutchison, P., Cox, S., & Frings, D. (2018). Helping you helps me: Giving and receiving social support in recovery groups for problem gamblers. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 22(4), 187–199.

Rodda, S. N., Bagot, K. L., Cheetham, A., Hodgins, D. C., Hing, N., & Lubman, D. I. (2019). "Types of change strategies for limiting or reducing gambling behaviors and their perceived helpfulness: A factor analysis." Correction to Rodda et al. (2018). Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 33(2), 138.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 7
What are three simple guidelines to avoiding relapse and staying stopped? To select and enter your answer go to CEU Test.

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