Recovery capital in action: How is gender understood and employed by men and women recovering from gambling disorder?

Belle Gavriel-Fried*, Noa Vana, Niva Lev-el, Galia Weinberg-Kurnik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Gender is a multidimensional construct that differentiates males and females according to its meanings in different socio-cultural contexts. Recovery capital (RC) describes the internal and external resources individuals employ and/or have access to when overcoming addictions. Negative RC refers to elements that hinder recovery. The literature on gender and RC is baffling since unlike quantitative studies that have found no differences between men and women in the levels of RC, qualitative comparisons indeed underscore differences. This study employed qualitative and quantitative research methods to explore how men and women with gambling disorder (GD) understand and employ gender as a factor in their recovery. Participants with GD (N = 133, 39 women) answered an open-ended question on gender as a component in their recovery. Content analysis revealed that 41.35% of the interviewees did not consider gender as a significant factor in recovery. By contrast, 58.65% viewed gender as important to recovery, indicating four gender-related elements that either enhance and/or hinder recovery: gender stereotypes, gender roles, mixed-gender therapeutic space, and sex in exchange for money for gambling. Chi-square analyses showed no differences between men and women in the distribution of the relevance of gender to recovery. Both groups reported similar perceptions of gender in relation to recovery, and identified similar gender-related specific elements that enhanced or hindered recovery from GD except for exchanging sex for money for gambling. These findings are explained by a combination of macro and micro-level theories that result in a new conceptualization of RC. We coined the term “Recovery Capital in Action” to show how the “RC toolkit” that individuals employ can hinder or enhance their recovery depending on cultural context, and that gender can be both a negative and a positive RC. Mental health professionals should consider the interplay between gender and the socio-cultural contexts during recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115401
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Culture in action
  • Gambling disorder
  • Gender
  • Recovery capital


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