Gambler Healing, an online gambling addiction recovery program offered through the state of North Dakota, is now available free for anyone — clients and counselors — to use.
While the program was unveiled just prior to the pandemic, it offers particular advantages in a post-pandemic world in which telehealth counseling figures to be a prominent and permanent feature.
“As we move into telehealth counseling becoming the normal, the Gambler Healing course can be a really beneficial resource for counselors who aren’t familiar with problem gambling and provide structure for individuals who live a distance from counselors,” says Lisa Vig, LAC, ICGC, program director for Gambler Healing.
Historically, there are many reasons why those with gambling addiction don’t always get the help they need. Some of these challenges include access to counselors, dealing with the burden of stigma and shame, concerns about privacy, and uncertainty about whether a problem really exists. With this online treatment program, it’s possible for more people to overcome these obstacles and access treatment.
Gambler Healing is an online course based on a 12-step recovery process that addresses the needs of gamblers with addiction. Details about the comprehensive program can be found on GamblerHealing.com. The program is the only one of its kind according to Lisa, who helped develop the curriculum. “The idea came to us when it became apparent that there were not a lot of relevant and educational resources about gambling addiction available,” says Lisa. “The original thought was to simply create updated educational DVDs, but the advent of e-campus modules made it possible and practical to create an actual class that would have greater impact.”
Program Components The program includes a variety of components considered critical for success. One key feature includes videos of recovering gamblers discussing their experiences. “We want people to know that they’re not alone and that others feel the same things that they might be feeling,” says Lisa. The program also includes a section for journaling. “Journaling is something we encourage in our own treatment program,” says Lisa. “It provides an opportunity for self-reflection and a chance to inventory one’s own behavior and thought processes.”
Enrollees also have the chance to read testimonials from those who have benefited from treatment. This helps to instill hope and remind participants that others have overcome similar challenges. There’s also an educational aspect of the curriculum to help gamblers understand how the process of addiction works.
Advantages of An Online Program As a program that’s administered online in the privacy of peoples’ homes, there are several advantages to Gambler Healing. Perhaps most important is the access to treatment it provides to those living in rural areas. “It can be particularly helpful for people living in places where there may be limited counselors or access to support groups and treatment,” says Lisa. The program is also convenient for the elderly or others who may have trouble traveling to treatment.
The privacy of the program may be useful for people who feel a sense of shame due to their gambling activity and would otherwise be reluctant to reach out for help. Similarly, the online aspect of the program can be attractive for high-profile individuals who don’t want to be seen around others who might recognize and judge them.
Gambler Healing also provides a way for people who might want to simply explore their gambling behavior and consequences to determine whether they have a problem. “In this respect, it can be used as an early intervention to stop a continued progression that might result in employment, family or marital problems,” says Lisa. People who choose to work the program on their own may also share their information with a counselor should they later decide to seek outside help.
Mental health professionals may find benefit in Gambler Healing as well. It allows those who are newer to the those addiction to gambling an insight into the addiction and possibly connecting to one of MN’s certified gambling counselors to coordinate a treatment plan.