Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 487–501 | Cite as

Changing Spousal Roles and Their Effect on Recovery in Gamblers Anonymous: GamAnon, Social Support, Wives and Husbands

  • Peter Ferentzy
  • Wayne Skinner
  • Paul Antze
Original Paper


This paper examines changing spousal roles and their effects upon recovery in Gamblers Anonymous (GA). It is based upon a qualitative study designed to gage uniformity as well as variations in approaches to recovery in GA. Interviews were conducted with 39 GA members (26 men, 13 women; mean age 56.5 years). Though the study was based in the Toronto area, only 13 interviews involved participants from that region. Phone interviews were conducted with GA members from various regions of both Canada and the US. GamAnon, GA’s sister fellowship, has been designed for anyone affected seriously by someone’s gambling problem. In practice, GamAnon comprises mostly women––spouses of male GA members––who traditionally have taken a keen interest in the ways in which their husbands achieve and maintain abstinence from gambling. Changing spousal roles have led to fewer women joining GamAnon, as many opt instead to part with troubled spouses. As well, more women are attending GA than in the past, typically with husbands who are disinclined to join GamAnon. All of this has drastically altered how GA members pursue recovery. These changes and their implications are discussed.


Gamblers Anonymous Gender Social support Addiction Pathological gambling 



Competing Interests: None. Funding for this study was provided by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre. Contributors: Peter Ferentzy conducted all interviews on his own, save for three which were conducted by Peter Ferentzy and Wayne Skinner. Co-authors met regularly with Ferentzy to discuss research results. Ferentzy wrote the initial draft of this paper, save for parts of the section on methodology which were written by Paul Antze. All authors were involved in the writing of the final draft. Ethics Approval: The research proposal was submitted to the Ethics Committee of Centre for Addiction and Metal Health and the University of Toronto, and approved on March 17, 2005.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.York UniversityTorontoCanada

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