One of the challenges for recovering gamblers living in less populated areas is finding conveniently located recovery groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. However, a new pilot program created by Minnesota’s Project Turnabout, the state’s only residential gambling treatment program, is providing an online option for its alumni/recovering gamblers to easily – and safely – chat with others facing the same challenges.

An important aspect of the program, which is available at no charge to Project Turnabout’s alumni via the organization’s website, is that it is secure, meaning people are more willing to share information with each other knowing that it’s for their eyes only. “This is not counseling, but rather a way for people going through similar post-treatment challenges to share their feelings with each other,” says Mike Schiks, CEO of Project Turnabout. While there may be other online self-help groups available for gamblers, this site is believed to be the first one exclusively for alumni of a treatment center.

Online support programs for self-help groups are considered to be largely untapped by the recovery community. “Online support programs can be particularly beneficial in areas where there are not enough GA groups or other self-help support services,” says Cathie Perrault, executive director at Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance. “States like Minnesota that are primarily rural can benefit greatly from these kinds of online programs.”