Journeys through gambling

Journeys through gambling

Pathways to informal recovery

  • Sophie Vasiliadis
  • Anna Thomas
Commissioned report – January 2016

The practical support of family, friends, and employers was crucial to both groups’ recovery. Supportive others helped recovering gamblers by promoting accountability and honesty about gambling, suggesting alternative activities, and assisting with financial management. 

Journeys through gambling: pathways to informal recovery is a study conducted by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) in collaboration with Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation (VRGF).

Journeys through gambling seeks an understanding of the motivations and experiences of people trying to recover from problem gambling without the support of clinical treatment or formal support groups.

Key messages

  • The study found that people take different pathways in informal recovery. Participants are motivated to recover when gambling becomes inconsistent with their self-image, when they are confronted by someone close to them, or when they experience a gambling-related crisis.

  • The study defined two types of recovering gamblers. "Self-directed" recovering gamblers take initiative and largely manage their own recovery, with a focus on achieving life goals or a new lifestyle.

  • "Externally directed" recovering gamblers are compelled to attempt recovery in response to a gambling-related crisis, or when they are confronted by someone significant to them.

  • This latter group needed intensive, regular support and monitoring throughout their recovery.

  • The findings of the study suggest that highlighting the advantages of recovery - such as achieving life goals, travelling, and having children - may be an effective way to reach self-directed people, while a focus on providing consistent support was important for recovery in externally-directed people.



The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation for providing funding towards this study, and thank Ms Fern Cadman, formerly Research Officer at the foundation, and Ms Helen Miller, Senior Research Officer at the foundation, for their support and advice in relation to the management of the grant.

The authors would also like to thank Professor Alan Hayes, AM, former Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), and Associate Professor Daryl Higgins, Deputy Director Research, AIFS, for their expertise and support throughout the project.

We would also like to thank Dr Marissa Dickins, Senior Research Officer, and Dr Angela Rintoul, Research Fellow, both of the Australian Gambling Research Centre, AIFS, for their assistance, insights and advice on the project.

We also thank the AIFS Publishing team for editing the report.

Finally, we greatly appreciate the generosity of the participants for the time they gave us, and their openness and honesty in sharing their recovery stories, without which the findings presented here would not be possible. 

Publication details

Commissioned report
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, January 2016
Suggested citation:

Rodda, S. N., Lubman, D. I., & Dowling, N. A. (2017). Online support needs and experiences of family members affected by problem gambling. Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies.

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