122: Gam-Anon – Everything You Wanted to Know (Sort Of)

On this episode, we explore the world of family members who are affected by problem gambling. We are joined by Christine, who shares her story of how problem gambling in her family led to her introduction to Gam-Anon. We talk about what the program of Gam-Anon has to offer, how it addresses the struggles of the “Anon” member of the family system, and how to start the journey of getting help. Gam-Anon is a 12 Step self-help fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem of another. We ask what constitutes problem gambling, how a family member might know that it is a problem in their lives, if codependency is a factor, and more. Listen in as we explore Gam-Anon. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

Gam-Anon website

Gam-Anon family questionnaire

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who doesn’t necessarily know if he has any gambling family members and i’m billy i’m a person in long term recovery and we’re going to have gamma non on today which is like the al-anon version of gambling anonymous uh did i just say that right i think so anyway yeah uh so people family members of people who have problem gambling or struggle gambling or addictive gambling or whatever the correct way of you know humanizing that is today um because i you know i i like the the inclusive speech the nice ways to say things but yes we’re going to have on christine we’re going to talk about what it’s like to be in gamma 9 what they offer what signs might tell you that you you know have a family member who has a problem or something you want to work on and uh that’s going to be interesting yeah i uh didn’t even know there was gamma on that’s you know a fellowship for i i guess family members suffer in these addictions as much as or probably more than the individuals at times because they’re more innocent victims a lot of times i mean they have their role to play but they’re caught up in the drama as much as the using person yeah it’s it’s fascinating and i think uh you know gambling and addictive gambling and you know obviously family members of uh people who struggle with those problems is something that we kind of disproportionately minimize like we’re like ah that’s not a thing it’s but it’s just money it’s not their life but i i think there’s going to be a lot of interesting information and insight in this episode so looking forward to having christine on and we’ll we’ll bring her on now all right welcome christine so we have christine on today and she’s going to tell us a little bit about game anon and her experience and so we’ll turn it right over to you christina let you get into that all right thank you so much um so i was married to a compulsive gambler and um that’s what you know took me to to gamma on but um the story really starts so we started dating in college and um i knew he gambled just like a lot of the guys we hung out with gambled and and some of the girls too probably but you know they bet on sports and there was a kid in the basketball team who was a bookie and took the bets and you know they just kind of um was something that they they did and um when we graduated i kind of assumed that you know the going out drinking until one in the morning and the gambling and all the other things we did in college had kind of stopped um so we we got married and um were going along fine um and there were some occasions where um this was around the time the internet was just starting so there were these um you know there were a couple things that happened there was um there was at one point where um he had won some money on a website and um told me that it was not anything uh it was free it was it was a yeah and i didn’t understand how these things work but he you know told me it was this free site where he could just buy you know chances of these kind of um um almost like raffle things and he had won this money and there were little things like that that popped up over time but i didn’t really see a problem until um about probably eight years later and um it was really cold out and it was pouring rain and my mother-in-law called me and said oh my god what are you doing with your roof if you you know with the leaky roof that you have how are you this raining so hard and what are you doing with the roof and i said what are you talking about my roof and um she said well you know the leak the leak and it was this very bizarre conversation and she hung up and i called my husband and that’s when i found out that he had told them that we had a leaky roof in order to get like 10 grand out of them to um to pay off a bookie so that’s kind of how things started to unravel as far as me finding out that this was going on um he had uh he had offered to take over our finances when i had my first daughter you know i already did everything else and he’s good with numbers and so you know that was fine with me take the bill so i didn’t even bother with the bills he paid all the bills so um i didn’t really see you know what was coming in and what was going on as much as i wish i had but that was our deal and um so when this came to light because i’m a very um a non-type of person so i’m a very you know controlling um kind of person so i got on the internet and i started searching and i found um a therapist and i found um ga for you know for him and and gamma for me and you know started really digging into this and um i actually went to my first gaming meeting and kind of laid this out and at that point he had arranged for us to refinance our mortgage um because there was a lot of credit card debt and and whatever we needed to kind of get back on track and you know he was sorry and this was never going to happen again anyway so and i was very naive and and the whole thing and i went in and they told me do not refinance your house you you know we need to make a plan here let’s take this slow you know let’s do this the right way and um i told them like they don’t i don’t even know if he has a problem and um you know we need to take care of this i didn’t want all this dead hanging over us um and and so i didn’t go back for a while and we refinanced the house and took out money to pay off his credit cards and all this so that was in january so fast forward by the time we hit um late november early december i was out of my mind um you know when you live with somebody who tells you the sky is green and the grass is blue and and it gets very um i just got very confused on which way was up and what was really going on um over the course that year you know when i first found out he was gambling it was um only football he told me and then i caught him gambling on baseball then things came home from the casino and you know on and on so this is a series very quickly over you know less than a year of kind of getting the wind knocked out of me with these different revelations of things i found and um there were you know the direct deposit didn’t go in and he told me that human resources had screwed up where was his check and he was gonna fight this you know all these kinds of things that happened so by the time we were we were at my parents for thanksgiving and um i can hear football on he’s in the other room and he’s switching around you know all these games and i was like what are you doing and you know he said i was being very paranoid because i said i’m going back to gamma on i need help i can’t deal with this i i don’t even know like what is happening and oh that would probably be good for you because you’re you know very paranoid and you’re you’re worrying about things you don’t need to worry about so um early december i i went back in and at that point i was at my bottom as far as just tell me what to do and i’ll do it i was done trying to figure this out and manage this and take care of him and solve all the problems that had come up and was just like just tell me what to do so you know they said the first thing was to kind of protect we had no assets we were negative in every account but they said eventually there will be you know you will have money so you know take what you have and your income that’s coming in and put it somewhere safe but he can’t access it so i went into the bank and that week and was crying and talked to the bank manager and told him i just told him i didn’t know what how to do this so just told them and they helped me open an account and you know i could transfer one way but not the other and and that’s kind of um what started it and then learned very quickly that you know this was about me and my process and my ability to kind of focus on myself and live my life no matter what he was doing and um yeah that’s kind of there’s a whole lot in between there but that that’s the idea i’m sure wow thank you for sharing that with us thank you i think my my first reaction is just like empathy because it sounds so tough to to go through you know it’s interesting i i guess from the perspective of maybe society or at least the perspective of people who’ve dealt with substance abuse or misuse uh sometimes the the gambling aspect of you know the addictive process or however we want to look at it is maybe a little minimized to some degree like oh it’s not as dangerous and i don’t think people understand the statistics of you know the the suicide rates and really just even when you get past just people dying like there’s a lot of heartbreak in in losing all this hard-earned money and you know you save for retirement and that ends up missing and it’s it’s tragic really there’s a lot of tragedy in gambling as well well and you know what i find that people come into the gaming meetings a lot of times about the money they come in with this you know number and this money and how am i going to manage this money and pretty quickly they pivot to the line because the lying is really what is the devastating thing the money you can figure out and you know work yourself back to my credit score was horrible because my name was on everything and there was a po box i didn’t know about where credit card bills were going where he was taking cash advances out on these credit you know and just all this stuff but the lying is what really i think devastates people and it’s so hard to to deal with that complete you know broken trust wow yeah so what does gamma non identify as necessarily the the problem for people who need gamma none like what is you know for for i guess for narcotics anonymous or something it’s like oh well addiction is your problem and alcoholics anonymous says you know alcohol is your problem like what or alcoholism uh what is the problem do they go to codependency is that what they refer to or so i think a lot of the anon programs so gamma non elena narnan you know there’s a there’s a lot of them now um it is support for the family member who’s trying to deal with an addiction so for gamanon you know it’s a it’s a loved one or a family member who is trying to um live a life involved with somebody who has a gambling addiction it’s it’s so interesting uh i mean i i guess to frame it like that it’s a little fascinating to me because i feel like that’s kind of what you know the other anons will say too and yet once you know because i’m more familiar with al anon once you get in there the it’s not what people think it is walking in like they think they’re going to go in and figure out how to deal with this other person and yet it’s really a process of self in those programs it really is about looking at yourself um dealing with the issues that are making it worse for yourself so a lot of us are jumping into this problem the second we see a crisis trying to solve it trying to and and people are living their lives for the addict you know they’re investing so much time and energy and and frankly it’s usually wasted time and energy because you know for me i was trying to solve problems that weren’t even the real problems because i only knew 20 of the truth anyway so here i was dealing with things that didn’t even really weren’t the truth of what was happening anyway so um and it’s and and you know the addict always seems to be able to be a step ahead probably because they’re dealing with you know what’s really happening and we’re you know playing catch-up but um i think that it it really is about helping you to be able to live a peaceful serene life even if that person is continuing to you know act in their addiction and if they go into recovery it’s you know helping to understand that whole process too you know we have people who come into gamma on and i felt this way too like you said you want to come in how are we going to fix this it’s been two months why is he still lying to me you’re acting like this you know like let’s go grow up um and it helps to support people through what is a very long process and and and is not logical so i think a lot of a non-people you know we we come to it as all right this and this is why we try to help the addict it’s only reasonable if you do this you lose don’t do it you lose money why would you go and do it again you know you’re missing that piece of the addiction the the compulsion whatever because we don’t think that way so you know you partly giving people an education about what this really is that you’re dealing with and what you need to do to first protect yourself and second to live a peaceful life and not you know live on the you can call it a roller coaster you can call it tornado whatever you want to call it that that addiction is doing not to keep jumping into it and and living it along with the addict it’s interesting you you said there uh we don’t have that piece and maybe this is more of a personal question than a gamma non-stance question but i’m curious do you find that after doing some work that there is a little bit of the piece of obsession and compulsion for you as well like is that oh but you’re obsessed and compulsive about something a little different like the the fixing or the controlling of it so i’ve heard people say i’m a compulsive enabler because it it really you know and that feeling of the other person is struggling and having to kind of sit on my hands to not jump in and interfere you know um and not treat a grown person like a child that i need to come in and solve it and not you know it’s a relearning it so there definitely is and and you know even after all these years we are who we are and i you know my natural tendency is still to help people i mean you know you have to learn like what is actually helpful and what in the end is not helpful um you know when when somebody’s coming and asking you for money to pay a bookie or they have this giant credit card debt and wants you to pay it off you know it’s it’s kind of that short-term view and the long-term view what’s what’s really helpful is it helpful for me just to eliminate the step for that person and now they can go back out and do whatever they were doing in fact they’re an even better customer now for that bookie because they can pay off that debt really quickly you know so it’s it’s kind of relearning what it means to help this person and sometimes that means really detaching from their their problems their you know and letting them figure it out and solve it themselves and and work with their program to um to figure out how to solve these things i i gotta say i’m fascinated because uh i i had the feeling coming into this if somebody would have said oh what do you think the suggestions are in gamanon um i i probably would have said and i’m sure this is you know a little different for everybody but i probably would have said well i would imagine if their partner continued the the behavior the suggestion would probably be to like get a divorce and have a retirement right at some point and the way you stated it in your story it didn’t feel like that was even on the table uh as a suggestion it felt more like hey if my partner keeps doing that that’s that’s their business i just need to protect me so my partner kept doing it and i we did get divorced um in the end but as far as gamma on the support is there no matter which way i decided to go and i changed week to week you know for a while um and day to day um what i wanted to do and and i work with women all the time who are figuring this out and we always say we’re there to support you no matter what the goal is no matter if you stay with him or you leave him in the end you’re better off and you’re a more whole person and you can have peace within yourself and and you know um live the kind of life that is about fulfilling your own you know wants and desires and needs and everything and that you’re safe and and happy yeah when you went to gamanon were you in like a a major metropolitan area or are you kind of like in the outskirts in a rural town or so i’m in the suburbs and and you know this has been something with covid where we gammon on is not as um available as some of the other programs you know the al-anons um especially have have such a presence in every state um gamanon is not as big uh it’s a lot newer and um you know for whatever other reasons um there it’s not as available as some of the other 12-step um fellowships for for family members so with covid we’ve been able to have all of these virtual meetings now where people from all over the country you know can can get on and meet people and and get the support um no matter where they live no matter if they have little kids and can’t afford a babysitter you know all the barriers that were there before it’s really been an amazing thing you know i think we miss a little bit with the face-to-face and i encourage people as meetings start to open up and if you can do that i think it’s it’s good to do also but we’ve been able to be there for people who would have had to drive you know ridiculous amount of hours to get to a meeting and billy feel free to tap me on the leg and jump in whenever you’re ready one of the things i was curious about what i’ve noticed about al-anon and naran more specifically is in more metropolitan areas there’s a lot more meetings and there tends to be a bigger focus on this 12-step kind of idea of recovery whereas when you see these meetings in more rural areas they tend to feel more like support groups and not that that’s a bad thing like i still think they’re doing a great thing but i i’ve noticed that the shift kind of moves away from the 12 steps um to some extent so i was curious what that’s like in gamma on is that like a hardcore thing like the steps are the answer or is it like ah that’s a piece of it but we do a lot of other stuff too so i don’t know about geographically because i only know you know my area and the things that i’ve done um however i do know people in other fellowships and i think it’s like everywhere else there are people in on who are just there to tell to you know unload each week and kind of tell their story and um there are people who really embrace the process more and want the um process of going through the steps and you know we do um every meeting at least that i participate in we read through the 12 steps and we we talk about a different one each week in a little more detail and then there is you know step work that is done in a meeting um with a sponsor you know independently that type of thing um we do have a 12-step workbook that um you know can help facilitate that for people and um you know for it’s even though we didn’t have the addiction that necessarily you know brought us in it’s still a process of looking at how we how we act in the world and how we interact with people and and you know where we’ve gone um away from you know from where we want to be and and how we can come back and all of that and and the spirituality piece you know i’m glad you brought this up because yes the 12 steps and the and god and the spirituality piece are an important part of it too um i think that’s really um a lot for brand new people who are just thinking about you know coming in to a bigger process but um it’s absolutely based on i mean talk about being out in control it’s not even you you know this problem is is just completely you have to just admit you’re powerless and and then work on you know the pieces um that you have some control over like the serenity prayer right it was fascinating to hear in al-anon that people have like their minds blown sometimes because when they realize that their life is controlled by drinking and they’re like well i never drank and they’re like yeah but your life is still controlled by alcohol and that’s fascinating do you feel that same way like your life was controlled by gambling yes yes and you know when i came into gamma my my two older kids were very little and i was missing stuff you know i was i was so wrapped up in in his drama and problems and whatever that i was i was missing stuff so i was given the gift to be able to kind of focus on what was important you know and and it’s like everybody it’s always a struggle to not get even now you know have work you have things but but to really focus on um the present and the here and now and what’s going on today and you know those lessons are valuable well beyond the interactions um with the gambler for sure when you were mentioning the the spirituality and the step guide all i could think of was eight and nine and i’m like what the hell do they have to apologize for it but but then when you just said the piece about like the family interactions you were missing and stuff like that that kind of makes a little more sense could you talk a little more about that eighth and ninth i think that’s kind of fascinating yeah yeah well you know a lot of people isolate when you’re dealing with something so bizarre and and so embarrassing or whatever you’re putting you know label you’re putting on how you’re feeling um we don’t want to tell people that the person we chose to marry or our son or our daughter or whoever is out stealing or you know went through our dresser last night and took money to go out and gamble with and so um we a lot of people tend to isolate make excuses um and some people you know feel like we turn into liars ourselves because we don’t wanna we don’t want this to be our reality so you know making excuses why we can’t go to this or that and and you know those kinds of things so that’s a piece of it um that comes from just the enabling the other person certainly our children you know people have spent years and years um while their kids are growing up focusing on the gambling fighting about the gambling um you know all the different pieces that come with that um and part of the whole process is understanding our role and and certainly i mean one of the reasons i didn’t go back to that very first gamma program meeting is because they told me i was as sick as him and i was like oh no i don’t know why do you know what he did you know so um and and i think that’s a little harsh for a brand new person but it was true it was true especially then my head was all over the place and um i was running in 20 different directions and getting nothing done and then missing out on you know on the important stuff so um yes so we have our own issues no doubt that and and it impacts other people and sometimes it’s job stuff i mean people you know it’s the same as the attic sometimes we’re not um doing what we’re supposed to be doing because we’re running around fixing that problem or you know um it it it there’s a big ripple effect for for everybody involved that’s so fascinating that somebody said that to you i mean i agree it’s probably very true but i’m like can’t you wait till like meeting 10 to say that that’s a little harsh yeah yeah well probably because i was arguing with them like i said by the time i went back later that year i was so just done that i i had no fight in me i had no you know um but but it’s a natural tendency especially when you’re enabling kind of personality you know you want to kill this person but somebody else starts saying something bad and you’re throwing your body in front of them right so it’s a common um piece to try to defend them and then get lost in that instead of focusing on why you’re there i feel like in our society uh you know drug misuse or substance misuse is really easily identifiable right oh you’re using substances that are illegal well that’s obviously bad right i think alcohol misuse tends to get a little harder to see but i think even further gambling addiction would probably be one of the hardest to recognize i mean just thinking about it myself i was like well does does bingo count like does you know people go to casinos is it only online what about fantasy football betting what about and then uh billy just said this morning you know lottery and scratch-offs and i’m like christ i forgot all about that right my mom does a lot of scratch-offs she’s a gambling addict so what kind of ways would you really be sure that your loved one was struggling with the gambling addiction versus just what’s acceptable in our society yeah i know that that’s a great question and um first of all gavin on has no opinion on gambling so people want to go get you know we’re not anti-gambling that’s that’s an adult you know if you’re a legal age that’s something you can do and i think looking at the parallels with drinking helps people to understand so the problem comes in when it starts to impact the daily you know day-to-day life responsibilities and activities so you’re missing out on family events or you’re missing work that’s an obvious kind of you know problem um you’re borrowing my so you’re using money you don’t have you’re borrowing money in order to gamble because you know you’re going beyond your means in order to do this um you know there is a list there’s a list of um 20 um situations i guess you know to that people can look at on the gamma website that says you know are you living with a compulsive gambler and it’s it’s those kinds of those kinds of um events so you know if if bill collectors are are calling um because of the gambling if you know the the hiding um if you as again as a as the spouse or the mother or the parent or whose sibling or whatever you know feel the need to go through the person’s wallet and check up on money and and you know spending in those things like all of these are kind of red flags um and any one thing could be you know something else but when you start ticking off the list of many many different red flags then you know it indicates that this has gone beyond just what the average person can do you know people can go into a casino and they’ve come in with a hundred dollars and when they spend their hundred dollars it’s gone or if they win they take it and they leave you know whereas a person who has a problem will hit the atm machine a couple more times call somebody for some more money win a bunch of money and then gamble that all the way you know this is just a different way of interacting with the activity um that’s that’s just not how you know uh somebody without the addiction would act right that interfering with your daily uh daily um relationships and activities is probably the biggest okay and we’ll be sure to put a link up to that that questionnaire in the show notes for this so anybody can easily go take that i’m curious

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do you find in your experience that people in gamanon tend to shy away from any gambling or do they have a healthy relationship with it or not really any indication either way so everybody’s different and everybody comes in with a different story and history i mean i’ve seen people who dealt with this for you know 25 years with the spouse and they want nothing to do with it and i know people who still you know have a trip they do every year to vegas with their girlfriends and they still go do that they don’t bring him but you know that kind of thing um so i think everybody’s um i will tell you personally for myself um i don’t have an issue with it so much but when i see the extremes then that bothers me you know and i think we have our own triggers just like everybody else and and it’s different for everybody um and there’s different kinds of betting a lot of compulsive gamblers will bet on anything they can but you know some people are mostly the horse track or um you know casinos or sports betting um and then they’ll you know and then some people just do everything so or lottery like you said or bingo i mean i know somebody who um the the spouse is at the bingo hall every night till 2 a.m 3 a.m you know that’s that’s again when it becomes extreme and you’re not home and you’re not able to do the things you need to do for your family because that other love is coming first i it’s always fascinating to me especially in 2022 to hear the horse track because it’s something that has never been a part of my life and so i’m always like people really go do that stuff well and what’s you know the way things have changed over the years um so when i first came into gaming on like i said it was been a while so technology was different and then we didn’t all have smartphones and but the more things have evolved with technology you can well there’s usually an otb channel on most cable stations first of all you can watch the horse reefs from anywhere um and then you know the same with the the ability to bet on things you know has gotten easier and easier um because you don’t have to leave your house anymore right right so what would be some signs once you’re like say i went to a gamma non meeting and i needed some assistance what do i look for in the people that i want guiding me like what kind of signs show that you’re sort of maybe in this healing recovery process of dealing with your partner and what signs might be like oh hey that person’s really not doing anything quite yet so i think part of the whole process of going through um a fellowship like gamanon is learning to trust your gut i think that’s part of what gets us in trouble to begin with is things are happening that don’t seem right and we’re believing ridiculous stories or making excuses or whatever at least in my case that’s that’s what happens um you know ignoring these red flags um so i think you know people that you feel especially in the beginning people you feel comfortable with people you identify with um i don’t think you know we i think like anything it’s a little different when you’re a parent versus a spouse although the behaviors of um the addict are the same um you know it there’s some other some for some people i think it’s a little um the challenges are a little different um because one you’re relying on them for income and one year they’re your child you know and there’s just different pieces so some people choose to um you know look for a sponsor or reach out to people who’ve had similar life experiences um that’s one way but i i think it’s mostly just people that you’re comfortable with and who sounds

who sound comfortable in their own life who are um truthful you know i had people give me some hard truth um i can remember being in meetings and and laying out this crazy story and saying but what could i do there’s nothing i could do what could i do people would say you could do this you could have done this you could have done that and i’d be like oh my god i could it didn’t even occur to me you know i was so wrapped up in him and his version of things that so that learning to detach and learning to think for myself and all that takes somebody who’s going to be really honest with me um and reflecting back you know the nonsense sometimes that i’m spouting out as as like to clarify do you realize it’s the same thing you’ve said three weeks it’s a different situation but this is the same story you know um because that happens right uh it’s interesting i guess

i don’t know how this goes for everybody i’m sure there’s a little personalized difference but i’m picturing that if i was married to an alcoholic say and i went to al-anon and i you know was working on myself or whatever and then i ended up divorcing my alcoholic partner and not having that in my life anymore i feel like my inclination might be well i don’t need alano anymore but you have related you know divorcing your partner at some point and yet you’re still in gamanon do you want to talk a little about that so for me 90 of that is about 12-step kind of you know pete the piece people were

that’s okay take your time people were so good to me and and gave so much time and energy and i would call it work you know and um it’s such a it’s such a hard um thing to go through and a lot of times you feel so alone you know i had i had threads of bookies coming here to break his legs which honestly by that point i was like go ahead but you know i had his mother saying oh no no we can’t you have to do something you have to do something you know so at each point there were different um issues but you know i had i had you know like i said bill collectors calling i had um checks taken out of the middle of the checkbook so you wouldn’t notice along with the carbon copy you know i couldn’t find my deed at one point because he’d given it some i had to register my daughter for kindergarten couldn’t find the deed like i’ve had these things happen that most people um can’t imagine so to be able to share that or when someone tells a story like that just say oh yeah yeah yeah that sounds about right you know and the lying kind of stuff i mean we were gonna sue citibank because they took his check they didn’t take his check he went and cashed it at some you know uh check cashing place and just the things that you know happen that are so unrelatable i think to most people so to be able so so that’s a big part of why i still do this um when kovitz started i actually worked with somebody else and we opened the um a virtual only room so a lot of rooms moved to virtual but this is a virtual only room that i hope to keep going even once places open in person and it’s going back to that you know there’s areas of the country you know my hope is then a lot of these people in the pockets of the country where there aren’t any in-person meetings will start a meeting also so there’ll be that resource and it’s a way to kind of spread the access um around and then you know like i said the other piece of it is i am who i am i still have my tendencies it keeps me grounded it keeps me um you know i have children with this person so we i still deal with him um there’s still crazy things that happen around you know i’m not involved in a day-to-day but he’s my the father of my kids so there’s that piece um and and i also remember somebody saying to me one time if you you know if you don’t take care of yourself and heal yourself you’re gonna end up with another version of him you know so that kept me going for you know for a long time too is just i needed to know who i was and what yeah and find my own voice and my own you know self before i um got sucked into that again because there’s obviously something there that attracted me when i looked back at people i was like i was always with a crazy person for one reason or another yeah when you look at the official uh gaming literature and i know you’ve used the word enabling some does does enabling and codependency like do those words pop out in the official literature like how do you how does the literature describe your dilemma or your what you’re going through yeah i don’t remember seeing codependency anywhere although it’s certainly an issue and people read their own books and have their own you know go to therapy and do things to deal with that um and they’re very intertwined a lot of times um the the enabling piece and the control piece are the two that pop out a lot um because it’s just such a combination of attributes that make us a good match you know for someone who doesn’t want to take responsibility here you know we allow or we enable the other person to to have the time and the resources to go and spend you know do on that it you know on their addiction because we are a lot of times taking care of the you know a to z and scheduling and fixing and all the other pieces so those are the two things that i hear out of people’s mouths a lot and um and i see in the literature okay control piece is big and it’s a false it’s a false thing it’s not real we don’t have control but you want to control so you jump in deeper and deeper deeper right a lot of the other you know 12-step type fellowships and programs we interact with they they create a sense of fellowship i mean there’s even the idea not so much in the 12-step fellowship but the idea that like isolation is part of addiction and you mentioned isolation earlier a little bit and that this you know bringing back to community and connection is part of the solution but i feel like those programs and fellowships you know uh rely heavily on that and and almost i want to say not always but a lot of times kind of your whole environment revolves around people that are also in that program right i i generally am only friends with other people who used to use substances that are now in recovery i’m curious is there that same sense in gamma non or like are a lot of your friends from that program now or do you also have you know normal or typical friends as well um i i think it’s a very individual i’ve seen i’ve seen that happen for sure um and what happens a lot actually too is you’ll have couples so a lot of people who are in ga and gamaton together hanging out so you know they have the person ga and the person in gamut on with other you know people who are involved in those um fellowships uh but i absolutely have made very good friends who i see outside of you know gaming meetings that we’ll go have dinner together i mean this is all like you know when we could go have dinner but um you know or or people will have parties and have people over to their house it’s just a friendly you know social event that absolutely happens okay does gamanon have the same sort of uh special events that other places might have like you know if you go to a 12-step fellowship a lot of times there’s like we have dances or softball groups or coffee meetups or conventions even do does gamma not have any of that yes oh yeah that’s fascinating i was kind of surprised actually yeah i mean we’ve done some conferences um alongside ga so it’ll be a um you know a weekend conference where you’ll have both ga speakers and gambino speakers and then you’ll have some individual meetings for each and some workshops that are open to everybody and um and then some that are you know some activities that are gaming on only you know certainly um yeah we did you know different like some of them are social some of them are more um so we have uh unity offices you know at the local level and then iso as the international office so sometimes even as a fundraiser you know there’ll be those kinds of like you’re talking about some of the other kinds of activities that that’ll happen okay so typically and this definitely changes from area to area depending on how populated it is uh and and maybe some other 12-step fellowships there’s kind of a typical meeting outline to some extent i know it varies a little bit but what could someone expect if they were walking into a gamma non meeting and they were kind of nervous about it what would it really look like for that hour is it an hour i should say that it depends it depends i’ve seen all different you know times yeah ranging anywhere from an hour i’ve even seen two hours you know it just depends um the uh so the outline and i would encourage anyone um try to get there on time for the beginning because you get a chance to um they’re probably going to ask you you know if this is your first meeting and then so they can make sure you have um a book to read from a lot of times they’ll give you a newcomers packet which just has some papers literature you know that you can take home and read through um that explain some of the basic principles of gaming on and and um what to expect and then um every meeting i’ve been to then we do some readings out of uh a book um that again just pretty much outlines and reminds us all of um what is gamma on and we read through um some suggested points and the 12 steps and talk about anonymity and just some of those basic foundation pieces um at the beginning and then there’s usually a topic and the person sharing the meeting usually picks a topic sometimes it’s more of a speaker meeting but i don’t see those as much as gaming it’s usually a topic and then everyone you know speaks on their own experience about that topic and if you’re brand new you can certainly just talk about they’re just gonna let you talk about why you’re there and what happened and you know what brought you there and then after you speak about why you’re there people will give suggestions more stamina meetings i’ve been to our comet meetings so people can make a few suggestions ask a few clarifying questions um in the very beginning they’ll likely talk you know focus on on the protection piece um to put some of those things in place right away make sure you’re you know not leaving your credit card out not you know the things that can put you at further risk run a credit report on yourself some of those kinds of pieces just to start to get a picture of what’s really going on and then um and then that’s it then they’ll usually give you a few phone numbers um because you know things don’t just happen once a week stuff comes up and then there are people you can reach out to um and and one of the things that we talk about to a lot of people and i definitely needed the message was um you can tell the other person you don’t have to answer them right away i guess is the point so when you know a lot of times the addict everything is very urgent and it will you know it needs to happen right now you need to give me an answer i need to know it’s that pressure it’s that and one of the ways we can start to get our um ourselves back is to say you know what i need to think about it let me call somebody i’ll get back to you you know those kinds of things so you start to work on your own timeline instead of that other person’s um and i know that’s not quite what you asked but yeah that those are those are that’s kind of what you can expect that’s the basics okay that’s awesome how would someone i mean i’m trying to ask this because i feel like it’s a slightly different question than how do you know your partner has a problem how would someone know for sure that this is where they need it to go per se like if they’re thinking about it right well and and to go back actually to do they have a problem piece i’ve seen this with especially with parents a lot because a lot of times then the the gambler is younger hasn’t done this you know a lot of times a spouse there’s some bigger damage and problems with it with a child who’s maybe 18 20 you know 24. it can be a little bit um and and they’re the parents and so some there are people who come and say i don’t know if they have a problem i don’t know if i should be here and what we say is you know give it some time ideally give it 90 days come back and and get an education what’s the worst that’s going to happen and if they don’t have this problem you’ve learned and you know what to watch out for and and you know whatever um and the same with spouses or any other family member i mean we’ve had girlfriends who are like should i get married to this person we’ve had you know cousins and and siblings and and um all kinds of relationships um so it’s really it’s really for anybody who’s trying to deal with this but it’s okay if you don’t know for sure if it’s a problem and you don’t know if you should be there that’s okay and you can say that and just listen and and get an education on that piece um as far as your question about is it the right thing for me look it’s a volunteer kind of deal it’s income and if you’re feeling better at the end and you did at the beginning you know that for me was i always left there feeling better so even though every problem didn’t get resolved and it would something smack me upside the head you know the next day and i always felt better and i had people to reach out to who would support me and who understood you know if you call a family member or a friend and say you know he just did this and did this or told me this and their their advice might not be as informed with you know dealing with the with the gambler and the lies and some of the other pieces that come with it so i had people i could call who already knew i didn’t have to explain the whole back story and reasoning and all the other pieces that came along with it so um but i would say the same thing give it a little time i mean i told you i went into a meeting and like was like they want me to cut off my nose and spite my face like what do they know you know but by the time i went back i was ready and that’s what has to happen sometimes sometimes you’re not ready it’s not easy because you know we don’t sit around and bash the gambler or we don’t solve the problem of the gambling you know people are looking for usually one of those things and it’s about looking inside which is really not an easy process but you know i feel like i have matured so much thanks to gamma on figured out who i am and what i want and you know and and and can be helpful to other people and all the things that it’s given me you know it’s um it you know it’s not about him anymore it’s not about the gambling anymore and mine but but yeah just i guess you give it a chance and there’s no reason you can’t find other resources at the same time you know we have people who also go to individual therapy couple therapy you know different things but um there are tools that um the gaming can offer um especially that just you know somebody who’s been there before did you tell the girl who was thinking about getting married to run

i mean she got a dose of reality

that’s funny uh so i’m assuming and i’ll ask the question anyway but i am assuming that since you are still a member of the program that there’s no graduation or there’s no ending to it or there’s no like oh i figured this out i don’t need this anymore no no there’s no it’s uh i mean what’s the saying about when you’re finally done working on yourself that’s the end i don’t know how but there’s you know it’s that idea i mean there’s always room for improvement we all we you know we are who we are we can work on those different you know characteristic pieces about ourselves that we don’t you know i still tend to fall into peacemaking not wanting to rock the vote you know and and that’s okay sometimes um you know i say i was the kid that every teacher loved because i went along with the rules i took care of it you know i did these things but those same qualities then put me into positions where i just didn’t say you know get out of here or figure it out yourself or you know some of the kind of healthier things um that would have happened so okay and just just to clarify you had said uh if you come in and you’re not sure give it some time and you were talking about like maybe 90 days you mean while attending right like you’re not saying like go away and give it some time and then come back you’re saying stick it out and learn yeah come come you know try to go to at least one meeting it’s nice to find a meeting you go back to regularly because people get to know you and you get to know them and um you know i think that’s a great way but there’s lots about you know if you go to a meeting and it doesn’t the the doesn’t feel like it doesn’t click with you and it doesn’t feel like the right match there’s lots of others um that you can you know go for me i find that when i go to different gaming meetings it’s very similar same story same people and um you know a lot of same situations and just different you know different faces but a lot of the same um and and you know i just love the energy of of people supporting each other and being there for each other and yes but yes give it not you know come for a few months come and and and listen and see if you know where you are at the end of it and then do what make makes sense for you and no one’s ever going to tell you what you have to do it’s all suggestions based on our own experience of how we handled a certain situation and you can take it or you can leave it and just because i divorce the compulsive gambler does not mean you will and if you don’t then you know we’ll look at how you can do that in a way that you can still stay healthy and you mentioned like suggestions and clarifying questions which to me like set off these alarms in my head that’s crosstalk we don’t do that right because you know in my particular fellowship we generally don’t have crosstalk but it sounds like that’s kind of encouraged or allowed in gaming yeah so we allow comments um not i mean there are there are likely gaming on meetings that don’t but everyone i’ve been to allows comments so after somebody shares uh people around the room are allowed to make comments the comments should be from their own experience with a similar situation so it’s not really giving advice it’s sharing oh you know what that happened to me and i tried this and i tried that and this is what finally you know helped me to to deal with it or whatever the case um but yeah yeah every gamma meeting i’ve been to is allowed comments at least a regular meeting that’s not like an open you know speaker meeting kind of thing right do you find that the membership skews uh more towards females in gamanon it it does in my experience although you know my current meeting that i have online um we do have a husband we do have a brother we do have quite a number of fathers so it’s not all um and i think it’s changing too um over and it’s hard because online is different now than when we were in person but when we were a person we usually had one man you know maybe a father or a husband at a time you know people come and go but um there’s there’s more now where i am so i don’t know if that’s the time’s changing or just the access of the online uh i got to be honest i i never even pictured the parents for i don’t know why like that’s such a huge thing in al anon and yet it never occurred to me that like younger kids were struggling with gambling honestly so that’s fascinating to me well and that was probably going to be one of my questions i thought of is as we’ve seen this uh i don’t know what you want to call it easier access to gambling have you seen any changes in uh i don’t know that you’re gonna be able to identify the problems of gambling but the folks coming into gaming on looking for help has that changed since access to gambling is so easy nowadays yeah and i mean i’ve seen more parents over the years and i don’t know you know i can’t say that that’s any kind of correlation um i know there’s all kinds of research out there and resources for if a parent wants to find out those numbers um you know the number of kids um and i mean i say kids sometimes they are under 18 sometimes they’re college age kids we see a lot of i see a lot of that personally parents of college age kids or you know that kind of time frame um and and you know back to your point of how normalized it can be you know i i think people see gambling as a much more you know a lot less harmful activity for for teenagers or for younger people so they might be okay with a poker game in their basement or a you know their kids participating in the boxes for the super bowl pool or some of these other things that happen where they wouldn’t give their kid a drink or you know something but they would allow them to participate in the gambling um but you know it’s definitely i what i can say i’ve seen is um more and more people who are you know you can use your phones now for anything you can place a bed with a bookie on your phone you know it’s it’s you don’t have to go into the otp or you know meet the guy around the corner or whatever used to happen um it’s just yeah so the accessibility is there for everybody now it’s easier you can move money around so much easier you know just everything is easier now as far as access i i almost laugh when you said you got the calls about people coming to your house to break his legs because i was like oh my god that seems so 1940s mobster-ish i was like that sounds like a story i would make up to have someone call for me to get more money yeah and and it’s a really hard thing and and you can never tell somebody don’t worry that’s just something he probably made up sometimes it is some no who knows who knows i mean we all i have experience with different bookies um not my experience but having you know that they’re coming they’re gonna get him fired they’re gonna whatever i know i still don’t know what was true and what wasn’t true yeah it’s gotta be so tough worried about the care of someone you love and and not being able to know what’s real and what’s fantasy and i imagine that’s probably a big part of the struggle you felt you talk about the lying being the big piece like what life am i really living i don’t know right that’s so scary yeah and you know i mean there’s a good trick that i think addicts or people that lie use and they give you when you find out something or you figure out something they give you 20 of the truth so you’re like okay now i know well there’s all this other stuff but you you you relax you let down your guard because you feel like they’ve been honest and so it’s this it’s a really um it can really mess with your your head as far as like you said knowing what’s what’s really happening and you know we tell people you know i’ve heard people say oh but i know he’s he’s stopped gambling now i know he hasn’t gambled since this date and you don’t know you you just don’t know because like you said you know you don’t smell it on people you don’t and a lot of times somebody who’s lived that life for a long time gets really good at at lying and can look you in the eye and i think this is when we go back to that heartbreak piece of people who you know start worrying about the money and then get to the lying piece it’s like how can this person look me in the eye and tell me oh no that wasn’t me oh no i didn’t you know or whatever and just it’s not true so i’m being quiet because we can’t uh if we laugh out loud or make noise we can’t hear you on zoom but i am dying inside that you can’t smell it on people that’s hilarious i’ve never thought about it but that’s funny you can’t really like you have to have access to the to the books what’s going on with this to some extent i mean i don’t there are people in gaming who will tell you they can tell when the person’s gambling and tell the person lying and i think people get tells you know but um and certainly there’s a personality change in a lot of people um where you know these outbursts of anger or things that just don’t make sense can be a red flag but you just you don’t know what’s going on with somebody else if they don’t want you to know then you can’t be sure that you know what’s really happening it’s so interesting that they have a tell sign right like like maybe they get more anxious or agitated or whatever but like when i think of gambling i think of like poker and having a tell being a bad thing and i’m like oh maybe they shouldn’t be gambling if they have a towel so what would be the best place if somebody was ready to explore gamanon should they go to the gamma website is that like the best place to find a meeting and find information about it yeah there’s information there um that you can you can certainly read through and and get more you know of an idea of what it’s all about those 20 questions are on there um and there’s a packet for newcomers on there that’s available to download you know for anybody um and then uh there’s also a list of meetings so you can either sort by your location and look for an in-person meeting or there are a number of um i think the last time i looked there were like 30 some uh virtual meetings so pretty much every day of the week different time zones um and i know from mine we have people from both canada and the us who come on and but yeah all over all over the country all over the world um that’s accessible to anybody now and and whatever you come in with whatever story you have to tell that’s people there have heard it before and they can they can start to you know start to give you some support that’s awesome and we will definitely have the link to that website in the the show notes as well uh if somebody wanted to reach out through the contact us on that page and just really wanted to talk to somebody is that an okay thing to do like if they’re not ready to go to an actual meeting if that feels a little too much yeah absolutely and there are hot lines sometimes there are local um hotlines as well but you can certainly call um you know the the gaming office that’s on the site there are pro programs available so for example if you lived in a part of the country where there were no meetings prior to cover we had online meetings there there was a letter writing you know opportunity for people people to share you know um that way and then yeah and then they can help to connect you to um you know to whatever else you’re looking for that’s so awesome did you have any final thoughts that you wanted to share christina no pressure if you don’t it’s okay i would just say that if you think there might be an issue that there might be a problem then something’s going on and it’s worth uh coming you know go to a gaming meeting see late you know see what it’s all about and um see if it doesn’t make you feel a little bit better and and start moving forward um you know on your path to your to your own recovery well we thank you so much for spending your time here today to help people to understand more about gamanon and if it may be right for them and and thank you for sharing part of your personal story with us that really means a lot to us um and i i’m glad i’m proud of your recovery it’s incredible i’m glad you’re a person that’s available for the next batch of people that come in and and need somebody that understands um and i just i wish you well on your journey thank you thank you and i appreciate you getting the word out to the people so awesome all right thank you christine right thanks thank you thank you too bye-bye

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