Pathological gambling is a common psychiatric condition that can present with a variety of symptoms. Here, practical treatment recommendations for pathological gamblers and their families.
TIPSHEET: TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PATHOLOGICAL GAMBLERS
■ Use medications to address co-occurring psychiatric or substance-related disorders
■ Employ random urine drug screens to rule out substance abuse
■ Screen for medically related conditions that can complicate pathological gambling: Dementia, Parkinson disease, malignancies, prescription drug abuse
■ Consider medications to target preoccupation and gambling urges and to reduce the reinforcement from gambling
■ Exercise regularly
■ Practice good sleep hygiene, with a target of 7 hours of sleep per night in recovery
■ Encourage patients to sign up for self-exclusion programs from casinos and to be removed from casino marketing lists
■ Reduce stigma and shame by educating that pathological gambling is a brain disease, much like depression and addictions
■ Use Web sites or advocacy groups for support (see Resources, below)
■ Seek out supervision or support from gambling treatment specialists
■ Encourage active participation in Gamblers Anonymous, including getting a sponsor and making a commitment to meetings
■ Involve family and friends to monitor overall behaviors and functioning
■ Encourage patients to engage in recovery process by increasing structured activities to replace time spent gambling
For details, please see "Pathological Gambling: Update on Assessment and Treatment," by Timothy W. Fong, MD, from which this Tipsheet was adapted.