Dispatches From The Midwest Conference On Problem Gambling &Amp; Substance Abuse: Director Of The Center For Substance Abuse Treatme

This is the first of several of our reports from the7th Annual Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling & Substance Abusein Kansas City, Mo. Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of theCenter for Substance Abuse Treatment(CSAT), opened the conference with a keynote address on the challenges and opportunities for addressing gambling disorders. CSAT promotes community-based substance abuse treatment services as part of the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Clark identified several developments that will affect how disordered gambling is treated in the future. For example, he noted the the proposed reclassification of “Pathological Gambling” in thenext edition of theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disordersas a behavioral addiction within the larger category of Addiction and Related Disorders. Dr. Clark predicted this would have great impact on the perception of the disorder. By recognizing the commonalities between gambling disorders and substance use disorders, Dr. Clark observed that the new definition of disordered gambling could expand insurance coverage for the disorder and reduce the stigma reflected in the public perception of problem gambling as an eccentric behavior rather than a mental health problem.

Dr. Clark also predicted the recent trend toward an integrated approach to addiction treatment will benefit those seeking help for gambling disorders.“Recovery Oriented Systems of Care,”(ROSC) a priority at SAMHSA, supplants the old one-size fits all model with an individualized, holistic and comprehensive approach to addiction. The ROSC model is focused on providing person-centered, comprehensive services across the lifespan that address not only the psychological dimension but other health problems and social needs. Continuity of care–not the old 28-days of treatment model–is the hallmark of ROSC.

Dr. Clark concluded by identifying the following public health needs for adequately addressing disordered gambling:

  • More qualified treatment providers;
  • Consensus on minimum competency requirements for treatment providers;
  • Specialized financial management training for clinicians;
  • Treatment programs that are sensitive to cultural differences; and
  • Reduction of the stigma associated with pathological gambling through greater public awareness and education

The PowerPoint presentations from the Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling and Substance Abuse, including Dr. Clark’s, will be posted on the Conference on Problem Gambling & Substance Abusewebsite.

As always we welcome your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

Christine Reilly Executive Director, Institute for Research on Gambling DisordersIn the NewsCenter for Substance Abuse TreatmentH. Westley Clarktreatment for pathological gambling