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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Gambling Addiction Treatment

This page abstract: The best gambling addiction treatment is to stop yourself. But if this does not help, other help is described here.

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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Gambling Addiction Treatment

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Question(s): 
Written by: Wendy Moelker, Psychologist in charge, tutor, Emergis center for mental health care, Goes, the Netherlands.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 22 Jul 2008.

How can a gambling addiction be treated? Describe gambling addiction treatment.

Answer:

When someone has an addiction problem the best thing is, of course, that he comes out of that situation himself. However, this requires a lot of self-discipline and motivation from the gambler. If he can't do it on his own, there are several possibilities to get help. But in this case too, the success of the treatment depends on the motivation of the gambler to handle the addiction. In the first place, there are self-help groups run by Gambling Anonymous (GA). They work more or less the same way as the Alcohol Anonymous groups (AA). The basic thought of these groups is that you have an addiction problem and will always have an addiction problem, even if you never drink alcohol again or don't gamble anymore. The only thing you can do is to stop gambling because you will never be able to deal with the pleasures of gambling.

Another possibility is ambulatory assistance, for example, through outpatients' clinics of psychiatric hospitals or addiction institutions, or through clinics for alcohol and drugs abuse. By having conversations with the patient, a solution is sought for his problems. Also debt restructuring can be part of this therapy. In more serious cases, admission to a clinic is necessary. The treatment of a gambling addiction is mainly focused on helping the patient to stop gambling. In this period, the treatment is aimed at an inventory of the problems; a list of debts is made and a plan is developed to pay them off, deals are made about who controls the money, relationship problems are dealt with, and underlying problems are looked at. Sometimes, gambling has to do with the sudden death of people around the person, neglect, or feelings of inferiority. Sometimes stopping gambling leads to serious psychological and somatic problems. It is preferable to involve partners or parents during the treatment. The people around the addict often turn out to have this need. They can play an important role in the arrangements about the control of money, debt repayment, etc. The treatment lasts on average 6 months.

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