Studies show that attending self-help support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous (GA), plays a significant role in recovery from addiction. The longer that problem gamblers remain in such programs, the more likely they are to achieve lasting success in recovery.

The following is an abridged version of the Top Ten Reasons That People Drop Out of GA as prepared by Reverend Roger Olsen, resource development educator at the Alabama Council on Compulsive Gambling. (Note: GA is not affiliated with the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance.)

10. Life Showed Up At Our Front Door. When life shows up we can do one of two things: handle it on life’s terms or run back to our addiction.

9. We Listened To Other Peoples’ Opinions. Opinions are not facts. Trust the program. It never fails us if we follow the guidelines daily.

8. We Relapsed. Going back to GA and sharing a slip is a difficult task. There is no shame in admitting we slipped. We can learn from our relapse and strengthen our recovery.

7. The Chief Critic Said Something That Offended Us. Every GA meeting has someone that seems to rub us the wrong way. Things are going to be said that upset us. Don’t allow comments to keep you from coming back. Remember, principles before personalities.

6. We Only Did Step 1 And Then Jumped To Step 12. Sometimes we come into the program surrendering to our higher power, and then jump right to Step 12 and focus on how other compulsive gamblers should get into recovery. The end result is that we never grow and mature, and we eventually end up back in our addiction.

5. We Started Listening To Our Addiction. Your gambling addiction is looking for any reason to get you back into action or transform you into the great escape artist. When our addiction starts to talk to us, grab the phone list and talk it out.

4. We Never Got To Step 4. Many gambling addicts come to a complete halt after doing steps 1-3. Step 4 is the step to get brutally honest with ourselves. Step 4 (and the remaining steps) are the keys to our growth. If we don’t tackle our character defects, then our character defects will tackle us. We drop out of the program, we drop out of recovery, and the end result is prison, insanity or death.

3. We Weren’t Going To Meetings For the Right Reason. Unless we’re in the program for the person we see every morning in the mirror then our addiction still has power over us. We tell ourselves, “I’m here for my spouse, my boss made me attend, the court ordered me to be here, etc.” The list goes on. When we make our recovery #1 in our life, then everything else will benefit. Until then, we’re just walking in and out of rooms to please other people. It’s a selfish program.

2. The GA Program Didn’t Meet My Expectations. There is nothing that can ruin your serenity more quickly than unrealistic expectations. They’re like pre-meditated resentments. Keep saying the serenity prayer, and recognize that anger and resentments are like drinking poison, and expecting someone else to die.

1. They Stopped Reading and Working Page 17 of the Combo Book. If one would follow page 17, then one would be working one’s program. The GA program will never fail us, but we may fail the program. It works if you work it!

Reverend Roger Olsen is the resource development educator at the Alabama Council on Compulsive Gambling. He is a recovering gambling addict and is a trustee with GA. Reverend Olsen is a masters level community counselor with 30 years of pastoral counseling experience and holds a CACREP-accredited degree from Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama. For more information, please email or call (334) 277-5100.