Now that you\u2019re in recovery for gambling addiction, you can begin to rebuild your life. A big part of that will undoubtedly involve repairing the financial nightmare that resulted from your compulsive gambling. Just the stress of trying to deal with creditors, mountains of piled up debt, and the insecurity of not knowing if you\u2019ll be able to financially independent again can take a huge toll. Don\u2019t let it. You can regain your financial strength, security and confidence in your ability to take care of your financial obligations. But you do need help. Look at the Big Picture First, assess the big picture. Sure, you\u2019re in the hole financially right now, but look at where you want to be in 5 to 10 years. Recognize that it may take several or many years for you to recoup your financial strength \u2013 and pay off your massive debt. So, you have to look past indebtedness to positive financial strength. What are your goals for financial independence? Make a list of them. This is important because it gives you something concrete to strive for, not just chipping away at debt. If you\u2019ve lost a home due to bankruptcy or foreclosure, perhaps owning your own home again is something you really want to work towards. If you\u2019ve gambled away your children\u2019s college fund, setting aside money to give them some assistance toward their higher education may also be on your list of financial goals. In your goal listing, separate the relatively short-term goals from those that are longer term. Make them at 5-year intervals, just to keep things simple. Why should you do this exercise before you even have any tools to work with? The answer is simple: you will always be able to revise your goals \u2013 and the good news is that once you begin to make headway in regaining your financial strength, you\u2019ll most likely be able to revise them upward. No, you won\u2019t be able to go hog wild \u2013 there\u2019s no easy money in the forecast. But reasonable and achievable goals are what you\u2019re after. Assess the Damage Done This is a painful step, but it\u2019s one that you absolutely have to take. In order to move forward, you need to know where you stand financially right now. If you are married or have a partner with whom you share your life, you can enlist that person to help you compile the current inventory of debt. When you have another person with you while you calculate your financial indebtedness helps in other ways as well. It allows you to take responsibility for your actions and shows that you are sincere in your desire to make positive changes in your behavior. Yes, you may be fearful of actually knowing how much you owe due to your gambling addiction. Or you may have shoved the thought of the consequences away as something you\u2019d deal with at a future date. That time is now. Get busy and list everything \u2013 even the small $20 \u201cloans\u201d you received from coworkers. You may not even remember how many times you did this, but they do. Repaying them should be on your list just like all your other creditors. Don\u2019t forget the costs of treatment for your gambling addiction. If you went into residential or intensive outpatient treatment, there are always costs that aren\u2019t covered by insurance. You may have worked out a pay-as-you-go plan, or obtained a scholarship, or even received treatment as part of a federal, state or local assistance plan. Perhaps you received treatment for substance abuse, and were able to be treated for gambling addiction during the same treatment program. But, again, there were costs associated with your treatment that need to be paid. Let\u2019s say you didn\u2019t go into formal treatment, but relied on 12-step groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Since attendance is free of charge (donations are always appreciated), you won\u2019t have amassed debt here. Once you calculate the total amount of debt, don\u2019t faint. It will probably be more than you ever imagined. After all, you\u2019ve been gambling for quite some time, using up funds from every conceivable source \u2013 and then some. If you\u2019re in the 60 percent of compulsive gamblers, you\u2019ve even committed crimes to support your gambling habit. Theft, embezzlement and fraud have more than financial consequences. Some gambling addicts serve prison time as a result. Okay, so you\u2019ve got the bottom line total. Now, what do you do? Seek Financial Counseling At some point before you quit gambling and sought treatment, you may have lost your job along with other assets. Your income-earning abilities may now be seriously compromised \u2013 if you have a job at all. Staring at the mountain of debt that you just tallied up, you may be tempted to chuck it all and walk away. This is a normal reaction, but it\u2019s only temporary. Allow the thought to register and tell yourself that you are going to work your way out of this hole, one step and one day at a time. The best way to begin to regain your financial security is to seek financial counseling. Use every possible resource at your disposal. If you did receive treatment for gambling addiction at a residential, intensive inpatient or outpatient treatment facility, the staff there can assist you with referrals to financial counselors. Possibly you received some financial counseling during your gambling treatment. If aftercare is part of your treatment program, this continues into your recovery and will likely include financial counseling. Make use of it. Suppose, however, that you don\u2019t have access to financial counseling as part of a treatment program. There are still financial counselors that you can find that will provide the kind of guidance you need. Many of them will provide this service at very low cost or even free of charge. You do need to vet their credentials and check their references. Ask your support network in Gamblers Anonymous for referrals. The chances are very good that you\u2019ll wind up with several. Go ahead and contact these financial counselors and find one that\u2019s a good fit. One solution many people who are in way over their heads consider is bankruptcy \u2013 if it has not already occurred. Before you give this any serious thought, however, discuss your situation with your financial counselor. Bankruptcy, while it doesn\u2019t carry the same stigma as it did years ago, is still a serious matter and will affect your credit for a long time. It may, or may not, be the best way to go. Contact your Creditors Although this basic step is one of the easiest to do, many people are afraid to call their creditors. Believe it or not, your creditors want to help you pay down your debt to them. It\u2019s in their best interests to give you the opportunity to do so. After all, a small repayment each toward what\u2019s owed is better than nothing at all. Of course, working out a repayment plan means that the creditor will need some reassurance that you have the ability and means to pay, and the intention to make good on your promises to pay. Expect them to require a repayment schedule from you. Since the amount that you work out is what you\u2019ll actually need to pay each month, be sure it\u2019s doable. Your financial counselor will help you figure out how much you\u2019ll realistically be able to pay each month to each creditor. Turn Over Finances to Another Some financial counselors encourage their clients to turn over their finances to another person. This lessens the stress and the opportunity for the recovering gambler to dip into the funds when gambling urges occur. You might think that this is a cop-out, that you should be able to control your own money. You also may not want to give over financial control to another \u2013 no matter how much you love them. But it may be necessary. Work this out with your financial counselor. The solution may only be a temporary one, until you get more firmly back on your feet and are farther along in your recovery. Cut Up Credit Cards This is a no-brainer. You just can\u2019t have access to credit \u2013 not when you\u2019re a recovering gambling addict. Cut up all your credit cards and destroy them. Don\u2019t just lock them up. It\u2019s too easy to retrieve them. And, if they\u2019re around, even if they\u2019re in a locked drawer, safe or safety deposit box, you\u2019ll use them. Related to this is to have your name removed from advertisers\u2019 lists. You don\u2019t need solicitations for new credit cards appearing in your mail. Contact your banks and have them remove you from their promotional mailing lists as well. Don\u2019t Leave Sums of Cash at Home Having your check automatically deposited is one way to avoid cashing the check and keeping sums of money at home. If your finances are being handled by someone else, it may be a good idea to have your check automatically deposited into an account that person controls \u2013 one that you don\u2019t have access to. The idea is to avoid having the temptation of large sums of cash laying around \u2013 since it\u2019s too easy to succumb to an urge to gamble. Don\u2019t think of it as deprivation. Instead, think of this as sound money advice. People who have a hard time controlling their spending need discipline and new behavioral approaches. Have People to Talk to During Stressful Times Life isn\u2019t all about bills, nor should it be. Even though you\u2019re trying to become whole again, financially speaking, you need friends and associates around with whom you can talk when things become stressful. And, make no mistake about it - there will be plenty of stressful times ahead. Keep phone numbers of these friends you can call handy in your wallet or purse, or in your desk, day-planner or PDA. Just the knowledge that you have this list will be reassuring to you. When you have a moment of doubt, or powerful urges to gamble crowd out your good intentions, call your friend and talk over your situation. They can help redirect your thoughts and get you past the moment of crisis. This is where your Gamblers Anonymous (or other 12-step group) support network really comes in handy. They know what you\u2019re going through, since they\u2019ve all been through the tough times themselves. Who else but a recovering gambling addict can completely understand the pitfalls of coming back? Use these lifelines. They will prove invaluable to you in your recovery \u2013 and for far more reasons than just financial. Put Attendance at 12-Step Groups at the Top of Your List While we\u2019re on the subject of support groups, make it a priority that you attend the meetings regularly. There\u2019s nothing like the reassurance of others that you get from your physical attendance at these meetings. While you may think you know the drill, when you experience a setback or a situation and then hear another person talk of a similar situation and how they successfully handled it, the episode takes on a whole new meaning. Suddenly, you\u2019ve learned something new, some new technique or approach that you can tailor to your own situation. Multiply this by a thousand and you\u2019ll begin to see the benefit of continuing your participation in 12-step meetings. Other Tips While you\u2019re investing time and effort in remaking your financial foundation, it\u2019s also important that you take time off for you and your family. Besides financial security, you need emotional stability and security, the love and trust of those closest to you \u2013 and you also need your dreams. \tTalk about what\u2019s important to you and listen to what your spouse or partner has to say about their own priorities. Be as inclusive as you can about these discussions and remember that recovery from gambling involves more than just the gambler. Everyone in the family is involved. \tDiscover new hobbies \u2013 ones that don\u2019t cost money (or cost very little). Make it something you always wanted to do but didn\u2019t have the time, or something that you think might interest you. Devoting yourself to a hobby gives you something worthwhile to do that whittles away blocks of time and takes your mind off the urge to gamble. \tTry to do activities as a family, whether it\u2019s a simple hike in the mountains, forest preserve, along the beach, or just in the neighborhood. This gives you a cardio workout and it is fun. Best of all, these kinds of pursuits don\u2019t cost a dime \u2013 but they provide immeasurable returns in physical and emotional health. \tFind new friends \u2013 ones who have nothing to do with gambling. Once you begin to engage in hobbies, sports, recreational and entertainment activities with family and others, you will find it easier to meet people with like interests. Sharing time with friends who are non-gamblers will add to your feelings of contentment, self-confidence and self-esteem. \tIf you have a relapse, get back on track by admitting what happened, and getting help. Confide in your spouse or partner, your counselor, and get in touch with your 12-step group allies. Remember that you are human, and humans make mistakes. The key to a successful and long-lasting recovery is to work at it every day. Remain Positive Following the path that you\u2019ve worked out for yourself during your treatment and in your recovery, you will begin to see progress over time. First, it may seem like nothing good is happening to turn your financial picture around. It may very well take quite some time to really see a difference. The best thing you can do is remain positive. Look at this as a journey, one that will take you to a very desirable destination. You can choose to see your financial situation as a glass half-empty \u2013 or a glass half-full. Choosing the more optimistic view has spillover effects. Open your mind to the possibilities that will naturally follow when you look for and believe in a positive outcome. If you think in a positive manner, you will influence positive results. You will find yourself automatically making positive choices in your life \u2013 ones that will benefit you not only financially, but in every aspect of your life. Regaining financial security after gambling addiction is, in the end, only a matter of time, determination, dedication, and a belief that you can do it. You absolutely can.