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Long-Term Therapy Needed For Gambling Addiction

Long-Term Therapy Needed For Gambling AddictionWork by an Israeli researcher into gambling addiction suggests the most effective treatment for the disorder should include medication and psychotherapy — for at least two years.

Psychiatrist Dr. Pinhas Dannon of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine said the extended treatment regimen would utilize Naltrexone, a drug used to treat alcoholism, and be complemented with other treatments, including group therapy.

Pathological gambling is relatively common in the U.S afflicting as many as 3.4 percent of all adults. Like other addictions, it is highly disabling both to the individual and to society, and can lead to suicide, job loss, and criminal behavior. It affects more men than women and can become worse over time.

Earlier studies reported that after six months of treatment, a majority of the gamblers would not go back to gambling. Dannon believes that a longer course of treatment is more effective.

“The initial results were too optimistic,” Dannon said. His data indicates that a drug regimen lasting two years keeps 80 percent of gamblers “gamble-free” over a four-year period.

By contrast, only 30 percent of gamblers who were treated over a six-month period remained gamble-free four years later.

The preliminary study, conducted in 2006 and 2007, was encouraging,  Dannon said, but for long-term effectiveness gambling addicts need to stick out a course of treatment for at least two years in order for Naltrexone to work most efficiently.

Group therapy and regular attendance at Gamblers’ Anonymous meetings can also help the addict lead a healthier, gambling-free life.

Dannon has also conducted extensive research on other kinds of addiction, including Internet addiction. One of his recent patients was addicted to the Facebook game “Farmville,” neglecting her two young children to play it.

While Facebook poker and “Farmville” can be addictive, these obsessions can be treated differently than those of hard-core gamblers who risk their marriages, houses and careers. For milder addictions, group therapy and professional counselling might be all the help that’s needed.

“Gambling addiction is a chronic disorder,” Dannon said. “We need much more time to treat these patients. They require careful monitoring and holistic treatments over the longer term to avoid relapse.”

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Long-Term Therapy Needed For Gambling Addiction

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Long-Term Therapy Needed For Gambling Addiction. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 12 Apr 2011)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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