» Australian Researchers Conclude Gambling is not Addictive
Australian Researchers Conclude Gambling is not Addictive
Wednesday 16 May, 2012 16:59
Researchers at the University of Sydney's Gambling Treatment Clinic have fed
fuel to the ongoing debate on how problem gambling should be treated, by coming
out confidently to say that gambling is not addictive.
The Education and Training Officer of the center, Dr. Fadi Anjoul, who has
worked closely with Australian problem gamblers for over 15 years, believes that
the image portrayed in the media and among social lobbyists that gambling is an
addiction is simply untrue, saying that "The idea of Australian gambling
addiction is widespread, but inaccurate."
One of the biggest problems facing problem gamblers is that they are
automatically lumped together with alcohol and drug addicts. However, Anjoul
points out that many of the central features seen among these addicts are not
Dr. Anjoul continued: "Problem gambling is better thought of as a misguided
obsession, which means we are dealing with habitual and poorly informed choices
rather than biological processes that are beyond individual control."
Essentially, this means that biological impulses don't play a role in problem
gambling, the way they do in drug and alcohol abuse, and therefore the treatment
of the problem also has to be different.
Treating Problem Gambling in Australia
The Gambling Treatment Clinic in Sydney has made great strides based on this
groundbreaking new theory with regards to the treatment of problem gambling in
When a problem is caused by poor choices or habits, as the center believes
gambling problems are, they are usually treated through cognitive therapy -
essentially showing the patient how he or she got from point A to B and how they
can change things in their lives to avoid the problem.
The center has become a pioneer for a new brand of cognitive therapy
especially tailored for the problem gambler, and the results are much better
than traditional therapies used up until now to treat gamblers.
"Traditional therapies tend to focus on ways to help people deal with their
urges when they occur," said Dr. Anjoul, "and show high rates of relapse after
therapy ends. However, with the model we are working with, we often find that by
the end of the treatment, people are experiencing very few urges."
While it is early days yet, the new model has caught the attention of
researchers and problem gambling experts around the world, who are excited about
The new model was presented as part of Responsible Gambling Awareness Week in
Australia (May 14th to 20th).