There is always alot of hype in the media regarding gambling addiction and problem gambling, and this has often been the reason that many US politicians have used for not legalising online gambling when it is quite obvious that they are more concerned about lost tax dollars to offshore based operations.
Nevertheless, many have asked the question, “Is gambling really an addiction? ” and it seems that Australian researchers have the answer. According to academic researchers at the University of Sydney’s Gambling Treatment Clinic gambling is not the addiction it has long been believed to be and what’s more they have a better treatment for it than ever before.
In a recent press release Dr Fadi Anjoul, Education and Training officer at the clinic who has worked with a treated so called “gambling addicts” for over 15 years stated that the idea of gambling addiction is widespread, but inaccurate. According to Dr Anjoul unlike drug and alcohol addiction with which gambling addiction is usually grouped, problem gamblers rarely display symptoms such as tolerance and withdrawal. Based on these facts, Dr Anjoul believes that gambling is better thought of as a misguided obsession rather than an addiction which means that those with problems are making habitual and poorly informed decisions rather than responding to a biological process that is beyond their control.
This distinct different holds important implications for treatment as badly informed decisions and behaviours can be modified with the help of cognitive therapy which enables those undergoing treatment to understand why they gamble, how they ended up in a problem gambling situation as well as how to alter their thinking towards their involvement in gambling.
After years of research, Dr Anjoul has developed an innovative method of cognitive therapy that has produced significantly improved results in comparison to traditional therapies rooted in disease and addiction models of gambling. Dr Anjoul believes that the reason for the difference in the success rate of his program in comparison to traditional therapies is due to the fact that traditional therapies focus on helping people to deal with their urges as they arise, leading to high relapse rates once therapy is terminated, but with his model people find that by the conclusion of treatment, gambling urges arise infrequently if at all.
Professor Alex Blaszczynski, head of the University’s School of Psychology and expert on problem gambling issues stated that the results achieved with the new cognitive therapy at the University’s Gambling Treatment Clinic were very exciting and although the program is in its infancy, better treatment outcomes and lower relapse rates than can be found anywhere else are very promising.