What Makes Us Tick? Recovery Capital As A Framework For Gambling Disorder Recovery

Recovery capital (RC) has been used as a conceptual framework for substance abuse disorders that pinpoints internal and external resources that individuals can use to facilitate recovery[CR1]from disorder. More specifically, these resources can include: resources one has from relationships, assetts such as housing and diet, hopes, skills, education, and personal value and belief systems. Belle Gavriel-Fried, PhD, an NCRG Seed Grant recipient from Tel Aviv University, set out to extend this conceptual framework to Gambling Disorder, a behavioral addiction.


The aim of this study by Gavriel-Fried, (2018), was to extend the Recovery Capital conceptual framework to Gambling Disorder (GD) and to identify and conceptualize RC resources used by individuals who have recovered from gambling disorder. The findings of this study could be used as a first step for creating a comprehensibe RC model directly applicable to GD.

What did Researchers do?

The researchers performed interviews and administered self-report questionnaires on qualifying respondents from five adult outpatient gambling treatment centers from five large cities in Israel. The study included 91 individuals over the age of 18 who; had recovered from GD and had a self-reported lifetime history of DS-M 5 GD but had not exceeded this GD threshold in the last 12 months, a recovery period of 1-5 years, and no substance use disorders in the last 12 months. This population, which had an average age of 48.6, participated in face-face interviews that asked them to describe their recovery process and the things they used to assist them in the recovery process, and self-reported sociodemographic characteristics using a software program.

Why is this important?

Recovery capital as a conceptual framework is emerging in the addiction field because of its ability to pinpoint resources that are used by individuals to aid in recovery from addiction. Currently this framework is developed and applied to individuals with substance addiction. Gambling, classified as a behavioral disorder, shares many similarities with SUD, but also many differences. Therefore, it is viable to use a similar framework, but necessitates a GD specific framework to address these differences. A GD specific framework can enable therapists to tailor intervention programs to each individual. Additionally, it with help highlight resources areas that may need to strengthened and improved, and develop new services and responses that may be missing.

What did they find?

Researchers were able to separate responses into four main domains: human capital, social capital, community capital, and financial capital, and also sub categories of these main domains.

Human Capital: Researchers found that there were 6 categories of human capital, or personal characteristics and skills that aided in recovery, that emerged from participant’s answers: subjective well-being (44%), self-efficacy (48%), self-control skills (67%), proactive coping skills (66%), socioemotional skills (60%), and reconstructions skills (62%).

Community Capital: Researchers found that community capital, or resources related to gambling legislation, and treatment recovery resources, contained three subcategories: pro-recovery environment (11%), therapeutic space (59%), Recovering gambler’s support group (47%).

Social Capital: Researchers found that social capital, or resources related to social setting had 3 sub characteristics: social friendship with recovering gambling addict (23%), friends without GD (26%), Family (63%).

Financial Capital: Researchers found one category within this domain: Pro-recovery financial state (27%)


Although this study did an excellent job paving the way for a GD specific RC framework, there are some limitations. One limitation concerns the population, which only addressed individuals that had been in recovery for 1-5 years. A second limitation was geographical, as the participants were from Israel and may have faced cultural pressures. Here, generalizability to other cultures may be a concern. Additionally, there were some limitations with data collection, including the allowance of positive recovery resources only, open-ended questions that leave the answers open to interviewer bias, and also the self-report aspect of demographics run the risk of self-report bias.


Gavriel-Fried, B., & Lev-el, N. (2018). Mapping and Conceptualizing Recovery Capital of Recovered Gamblers.American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000382

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