Pathological gambling is a common psychiatric condition that can present with a variety of symptoms. Treatment recommendations available for pathological gamblers, as well as resources for patients and their families in this Tipsheet.
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.
â Use medications to address co-occurring psychiatric or substance-related disorders
â Employ random urine drug screens to rule out substance abuse
â Screen for medically related conditions that can complicate pathological gambling: Dementia, Parkinson disease, malignancies, prescription drug abuse
â Consider medications to target preoccupation and gambling urges and to reduce the reinforcement from gambling
â Exercise regularly
â Practice good sleep hygiene, with a target of 7 hours of sleep per night in recovery
â Encourage patients to sign up for self-exclusion programs from casinos and to be removed from casino marketing lists
â Reduce stigma and shame by educating that pathological gambling is a brain disease, much like depression and addictions
â Use Web sites or advocacy groups for support (see Resources, below)
â Seek out supervision or support from gambling treatment specialists
â Encourage active participation in Gamblers Anonymous, including getting a sponsor and making a commitment to meetings
â Involve family and friends to monitor overall behaviors and functioning
â 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.
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