Abstinence Versus Recovery
Abstinence versus recovery. If you have a loved one who's
gambling, whether after attending GA meetings, or undergoing in-patient
or out-patient care, this will likely be a question that's on your mind
regularly, if not daily. All of us have heard stories of
who have abstained from gambling for many years, and even multiple
decades, only to ultimately relapse. Whether it's a small
relapse, or a larger recurrence than ever before isn't
important. It's that looming question that can haunt even
don't see any of the obvious signs.
Dr. Mitchell E. Wallick (Ph.D. CAP CAGC), Executive Director of
Professional Training Association @ CARE, was kind enough to provide
the following article regarding the topic of abstinence versus
recovery. While it doesn't provide a black and white means of
knowing whether our loved ones are in a stage of abstinence or real
recovery, it does provide an insightful, and very logical perspective.
Thank you Dr. Mitch!
"A question that patients and their families’ often
“how can I tell the difference between recovery and
“This is usually followed by “how can I tell if I,
loved one is heading for a relapse?”
In medicine we use the terms signs and symptoms.
what we can objectively see. Symptoms are what the patient
us. We all know that part of the disease of
addiction is a
bending of the truth through rationalization. It is for this
reason that we are unable to sometimes trust what the gambler is
telling themselves and/or others. In the field of addictive
diseases we tell our patients, “treat your mind like a bad
neighborhood. Don’t go in there alone”.
Those suffering from the illness often begin to show the signs of
relapse far before they actually relapse. The
some signs that one can look for:
- Stop going to meetings.
- Increased financial dealings. Shopping, running
up credit cards etc.
- Frequenting places where they got into trouble.
buffets may be wonderful for the rest of us, but not for
gamblers. In the field we say, if you hang around the
long enough, you will without a doubt get a haircut.)
- Being stressed
- Stopping activities
- Talking about gambling
- Excessive interest in events or other things on which they
Obviously the most conclusive signs of relapse are catching the person
- Finding betting slips
- Unaccounted Cash
- Items missing from the home
- Unexplained absences
- Attempts to hide phone calls
- Unexplained cash withdrawals.
- Larger than usual credit card bills.
The two most important things to remember regarding these behaviors are
- Recovery is the return to a quality of
life. This is
something that the compulsive gambler must judge for
Recovery is a very personal issue. While it is possible for
others to clean up, the actual act of deification is one that a person
must do for themselves.
- The second thing to remember is that although addiction is
disease, the individuals having the disease are responsible for
Human beings learn (at least we hope) from experience. With
compulsive gamblers we have experienced the following:
- Untrustworthy behaviors
And the list goes on… and on… and on yet again.
One way to tell if the person is recovering is to look at actions.
Absolute and complete honesty will eventually result in a return of
Finally there is no such a thing as a brief relapse. SLIP
for "Sobriety Loses Its Priority." None the less the key to
recovery is to pick up the pieces and begin again.
Abstinence vs. Recovery