As mobile apps and the latest and greatest digital technology are literally taking over our world, three junior NHS doctors brought a vision to fruition with RecoverMe, an app offering support with management of gambling addiction. Set to launch on October 19th, this app represents something new for gambling operators to share with customers who are suffering from (or at risk of suffering from) gambling addiction.
The original inspiration behind RecoverMe actually comes from a place of love and care, an experience the Founders had during their medical training with a gambling addict who was in such despair, he was contemplating taking his own life.
“He described that his family and friends had deserted him, he was struggling financially and he wasn’t able to hold down a job and this all stemmed from having started gambling at University”, shared RecoverMe Co-Founder and NHS Doctor Minal Jain.
“Having just been to University, I could understand why that had happened- it was couple of pounds on the local football team and then it just spiraled out of control, so what was initially a social habit, became a destructive, addiction and took over his life”, she said.
“We decided to do some research and at the time we basically found that there wasn’t a lot of help out there in the form of mobile health technology and that’s something that we were really interested in, having published research ourselves in the field”, Jain added.
The core feature of the RecoverMe app is to deliver Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in bite-size chunks, a method of therapy that has proven its success over time.
“CBT essentially changes the way you think, feel and behave towards a whole host of things, but in this case, a gambling addiction”, Jain explained.
“It provides [users] with the tools to recognize maybe destructive thoughts or distorted thoughts or identify why this might have occurred, what the thought process is that is behind that and then replace it with something a little bit healthier”, she said.
“We have six sessions that deliver CBT, they’re in the form of audio recordings and interactive exercises and what we hope is that users can understand and engage through the audio recordings”, she added.
RecoverMe also integrates mindfulness into the app, which has been shown to effectively reduce money spent on gambling while also giving a boost to one’s wellbeing. According to Jain, research suggests that when you deliver CBT and mindfulness together, the outcomes are that much better.
“The beauty of mindfulness is that it allows you to focus on the present so the past and the future become less overwhelming”, she explained.
“I think in the context of a gambling addiction, that’s really important because for those who gamble there are a number of negative consequences that could have built up over a long period of time and tackling the addiction with all of that going on can be really difficult”, Jain said.
“What we’ve tried to do is align our mindfulness principals closely with the CBT that we deliver in the hope that individual can really focus on the present, not be overwhelmed and act less impulsively”, she added.
In addition to doing extensive research to identify the best treatment, tools and exercises to deliver via RecoverMe, Jain and her team integrated feedback from the people who would know best.
“The best people to advise us are individuals who have undergone difficulties with gambling addiction, so we decided really early on that we’d create our Version 1 and then we put it in front of an advisory panel”, Jain revealed.
“We are really hoping that going forward we can incorporate whatever feedback we get and in the last few months we’ve been trying to engage with the ‘Experts by Experience’ group that that Gambling Commission have also liaised with and they’ve been great, providing really invaluable feedback”, she said.
Within the U.K. there are already a number of fantastic organizations, counseling services and rehab programs established to provide help for problem gamblers and this is something Jain wanted to emphasize. What RecoverMe brings to the table is a tool centered around the latest digital technology.
“Society now is so embedded with technology and I think offering a solution that an individual can access really easily allows them to seek help without having to worry about the stigma associated with the addiction and that’s where RecoverMe really comes in”, she pointed out.
“What we wanted to highlight to gambling operators is that we want to integrate ourselves with current services, so if [operators] are willing to do that extra bit for those vulnerable customers, supporting RecoverMe and offering it to those who may be reaching out to them and saying I’m having some difficulty”, she said.
“With the tools that we have now, you can self-exclude, you can have cooling off periods, you can limit access to funds within your account, so if an individual is reaching out to an operator and asking for those tools to be put in place, we think it’s a really good opportunity to intervene, to suggest to that user is there more that we could do to support you and if that is the case, pushing something like RecoverMe out is something that we’d definitely like to do”, she added.