People dealing with a gambling addiction or those with a family member with the addiction now have a place to turn in Drayton Valley.

Cody, who has asked us not to give out his last name in the spirit of anonymity that is required of the support group, has put together a Gamblers Anonymous group in Drayton Valley. He says this is the first Gamblers Anonymous group in town.

“We ran our first meeting November 1,” says Cody. 

He says these meetings will continue every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Alliance Church.

GA uses a 12 step program that is similar to AA and NA groups. 

“There are no dues or fees to join Gamblers Anonymous. The only requirement is to stop gambling,” he says.

He says the door is open to everyone, regardless of gender, age, or creed. 

While there isn’t currently a Gam-Anon group, which is designed for the families of gamblers, Cody the meetings are open meetings. 

“Most meetings are closed, but open means observers, such as family members and friends, can attend and support their loved ones,” he says. “They will not be permitted to share, but they can observe.”

Cody says he is a recovering addict, and he wanted to start the program in the community so others had a place to turn. 

“I suffered from poly addictions and gambling was one of the big ones for me,” he says. 

The problem was so bad, he says, that he was suicidal for a couple of years. He says he’s been in and out of hospitals and is now an amputee because a suicide attempt.

Cody says many people who struggle with addictions are also struggling with mental health issues. 

“It’s an insidious addiction, and it’s not talked about near enough,” he says.

He believes that part of the reason gambling doesn’t get as much attention as AA or NA is that it’s often glorified. Sports betting is gambling, as are raffle tickets for fundraisers, lottery tickets, and bingo. 

“We always tell people, ‘Don’t even flip a coin for a cup of coffee,’” says Cody.

“We watched the Oilers game the other night, and every single commercial in the first period was gambling related.”

One in five problem gamblers attempt suicide, says Cody, which he says makes it the highest suicide rate of people with addictions. “It’s astronomical,” he says.

Cody says he encourages anyone who feels they might be struggling with a gambling addiction to attend one of the weekly meetings.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Nov 16, 2023 at 09:59

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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