NCRG Conference: Toward A Treatment Standard For Pathological Gambling – Behavioral And Pharmacological Approaches

A Sunday-evening breakout session at the11thannual NCRG Conference on Gambling and Addictionfocused on the effectiveness of behavioral strategies and pharmacological (drug) treatments for disordered gambling.

David Hodgins, Ph.D., professor of psychology and adjunct professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Calgary, looked at several studies to determine if cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and brief self-directed treatment (verbalizing an intention to change gambling behavior) are effective treatments for pathological gambling. These effectiveness trials examined whether CBT and brief self-directed treatment work in real-world settings, and if so, are there ways to make them more efficient or more effective.

Dr. Hodgins found that if people are provided with the right support, they will make the right choices about gambling and move towards an appropriate goal. He also stated that verbalizing an intention to change often leads to a public and personal obligation to change one’s behavior.

While researchers are moving in the right direction in terms of offering better treatments, Dr. Hodgins said that treatment system issues are largely unaddressed and ways to get more people to participate in self-directed recovery or attend treatment need to be addressed.

Jon Grant, J.D., M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and co-director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, examined several pharmacological treatments for pathological gambling. While no medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of pathological gambling, he said that there are many promising treatments to help with gambling urges and cravings.

Additionally, Dr. Grant said that comorbid conditions, such as anxiety or bipolar disorders, often contribute to gambling problems and medications that treat these conditions also may help to treat pathological gambling cravings.

Continue to visitGambling Disorders 360°for daily updates, on-site reporting about the sessions and audio interviews from leading researchers and industry representatives.

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