Aussie researchers say gambling is not addiction
The latest research conducted at the University of Sydney's Gambling Treatment Clinic in Australia shows interesting results in light of concerns expressed by many about gambling addiction.
Namely, the clinic’s Education and Training Officer, Dr Fadi Anjoul reported on the study, saying that gambling is not necessarily the addiction that many believe it to be. “The idea of gambling addiction is widespread, but inaccurate," he opined, noting that problem gambling has been consistently grouped with drug and alcohol addiction, despite the fact that symptoms such as tolerance or withdrawal, which are central features of addiction, are rarely seen in gamblers.
He also underlined: “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.”
And thanks to the differences, implications for treatment are different. Dr Anjoul himself has developed an innovative process of cognitive therapy that generally results in significantly better outcomes than traditional therapies based on the disease or addiction model of gambling.
According to Dr Anjoul, “Traditional therapies tend to focus on ways to help people deal with their urges when they occur 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 treatment, people are experiencing very few urges to gamble.”
In addition, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, head of the University’s School of Psychology and an expert on problem gambling, stated: “The results we are getting so far at the Gambling Treatment Clinic with the new cognitive therapy are extremely exciting.
“It is early days but at this point it appears we are seeing better treatment outcomes and much lower relapse rates than have been found elsewhere.”