People with a gambling addiction who attended Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meetings gambled less frequently than peers who avoided the 12-step program, according to a new study published in the Journal of Gambling Studies. When GA treatment was combined with other therapies, people with a gambling addiction made even better progress.
Gambling addiction is among the most common behavioral addictions, affecting 3% to 6% of the population. People who compulsively gamble can quickly accrue hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, spurring a cycle of gambling to regain the money. These effects can be destructive and can create a deadly habit with a high suicide rate. The National Council on Problem Gambling estimates 1 in 5 people with a gambling habit will attempt suicide.
Is Gamblers Anonymous Effective?
The study reviewed 17 other studies on problem gambling published between 2002 and 2015. The studies looked at a range of treatment approaches, including Gamblers Anonymous.depression, stress, sleep deprivation, and anxiety, and higher levels of life satisfaction. The program’s focus on patience, acceptance of financial realities, and identity as a problem gambler all played important roles in recovery.
The program was even more effective when combined with psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which attempts to alter problematic or misleading thoughts to change behavior, proved especially effective.
Gender Differences in Gambling Recovery
Though media portrayals of problem gamblers suggest most people with a gambling addiction are men, the National Council on Problem Gambling suggests the gender gap is narrowing. Data shows women make up the majority of gamblers ages 45-64.
The study looked at how gender affected experiences with Gamblers Anonymous. Though women initially experienced similar benefits to men, the review suggests women may use the program differently. Rather than only attending meetings, women participants are more likely to use GA as a tool for creating informal social networks with other women.
Even though the study confirmed the benefits of Gamblers Anonymous, the authors say their research highlights the need for more research into effective treatments for problem gambling.
- Gamblers Anonymous associated with progress, could benefit from more combined approach. (2016, April 5). Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-04/smh-gaa040416.php
- National Problem Gambling Awareness Week female gamblers fact sheet[PDF]. (n.d.). Washington, D.C.: National Council on Problem Gambling.
- Schuler, A., Ferentzy, P., Turner, N. E., Skinner, W., Mcisaac, K. E., Ziegler, C. P., & Matheson, F. I. (2016). Gamblers Anonymous as a recovery pathway: A scoping review. Journal of Gambling Studies. doi:10.1007/s10899-016-9596-8
- Wright, C. (2012, September 13). How gambling can kill you faster than drug abuse or alcoholism. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/how-gambling-can-kill-you-faster-drug-abuse-or-alcoholism
© Copyright 2016 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.