In New Zealand, problem gambling rates are on the rise. Local researchers want to determine the best possible way to treat gambling addiction, so they are currently studying the epidemic. AUT University has recently published a study called ‘The Effectiveness of Problem Gambling Brief Telephone Interventions: A Randomised Controlled Trial’, which involved over 400 gambling addicts.
This is one of the first studies of its kind to involve real problem gamblers rather than volunteers. Problem gamblers who called into a local helpline were provided with one of four options, and the research team followed up with the individuals afterwards. The options were:
(1) the helpline standard treatment
(2) a single motivational interview
(3) a single motivational interview plus a cognitive behavioural self-help book
(4) the interview plus the workbook plus four follow-up motivational telephone interviews
While the research team expected the recipients of the more intensive treatment to fare better, all participants experienced similar results. According to Professor Max Abbott, who lead the study, all forms of problem gambling intervention are effective.
So, the key is for problem gamblers to seek help. With some assistance, they can overcome their issues – but they have to be presented with treatment options from friends, family members or even casino staff.