It is important for people to understand that gambling is not a risk-free activity and that it is becoming increasingly important to learn risk factors, warning signs and strategies to protect yourself or someone you care about. Educating consumers about gambling is vital but so is providing awareness for educators, helping professionals, organizations and communities. Compiled here are resources to provide basic information on gambling behavior to students and important gatekeepers in our communities and colleges. Reducing risk factors and practicing responsible behavior are essential to maintaining and achieving a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
From the National Center for Responsible Gaming – Fact Sheet: Gambling Disorders Among College Students:
From the National Center for Responsible Gambling – Fact Sheet: Gambling on College Campuses:
The following are signs to look for:
Click on a brief below for more information.
Disordered gambling is a highly cognitive condition. Despite the need for additional treatments and the likelihood that these will emerge, based upon current empirical evidence, CBT is the primary psychotherapeutic modality for the treatment of disordered gambling; currently, it also is the most broadly utilized primary counseling modality that is supported by randomized controlled clinical trials demonstrating efficacy and improved clinical outcomes (Bujod et al., 1994; Sylvain et al., 1997). The goal of CBT for gambling is to identify and change “cognitive distortions and errors” that are associated with intemperate gambling and its adverse sequelae. For example, beliefs in an eventual big win, being unrealistically lucky, superstitious behavior, as well as selective and distorted memory are characteristics of cognitive distortions that often are associated with disordered gambling (e.g., Ladouceur et al., 2002; Ladouceur & Walker, 1998). Perceptions of self-include how money links to self-esteem, social status and power. The “illusion of control” over gambling outcomes is a core cognition that influences disordered gamblers. This sense that one has the “omnipotent skill” necessary to beat the odds is an enduring characteristic of pathological gamblers. Finally, CBT attends to the effect of gambling on others and attempts to minimize the negative impact on family, work and personal finance. Ladouceur and colleagues at Laval University in Quebec (Bujod et al., 1994; Ladouceur et al., 2002; Ladouceur et al., 1998; Ladouceur & Walker, 1998; Sylvain et al., 1997) have developed a treatment program model based on cognitive behavioral principles that includes four components: (a) correcting cognitive distortions about gambling; (b) developing problem solving skills; (c) teaching social skills; and (d) teaching relapse prevention. These key CBT techniques central to gamblers are outlined below.
Cognitive restructuring for gambling disorders reflects interventions that are directed toward changing unhealthy gambling behavior by correcting distorted thoughts, beliefs and attitudes about playing and winning games of chance. It begins by enhancing gamblers’ awareness of specific gambling thought distortions and errors in judgment so that they can begin to make better decisions and choices. This goal can be achieved by thoroughly reviewing a person’s gambling experiences, strategies and expectations as well as by monitoring their current gambling behavior. This will provide clinicians with the opportunity to describe, assess, and evaluate a gambler’s cognitive pattern of activities. For example, one of the commonly observed distortions among disordered gamblers is known as the “Gambler’s Fallacy.” This cognitive distortion represents a gambler’s belief that they can predict future randomly determined gambling outcomes based on their observations and analysis of past random gambling events. By examining the specific gambling thought processes that support distorted ideas, beliefs, reasoning and decisions and then correcting and reframing them, clinicians can effect change in disordered gambling behavior. Cognitive restructuring interventions correct distortions in thinking regarding numeracy, games played, betting systems, superstition, selective memory, attribution and causality.
The development of problem solving skills can assist individuals struggling against their impulses to gamble excessively to feel improved control over their gambling risks and consequences. Problem solving strategies address therapeutic themes that include dealing with gambling urges, deciding about limits on the time and money spent gambling, resolving difficulties with family members and finding suitable solutions to gambling debts. The problem solving process involves a number of steps: identifying the problem accurately, collecting specific information about the problem, generating different options, exploring consequences by listing advantages and disadvantages for each, and then implementing and evaluating the preferred solution (e.g., Goldfried & Davison, 1976).
There is a range of social and life skills that can benefit a gambler in recovery. These include communication, assertiveness, numeracy skills, refusal skills, as well as the self-management of stress, anger, and anxiety. Therapeutic life skills training also includes relaxation, physical activity and meditation. CBT tactics applied to disordered gamblers often incorporate role play (e.g., practicing refusal skills), imaging (e.g., anticipating an effective coping sequence, re-experiencing a disastrous gambling event and creating a more acceptable outcome), goal setting (e.g., deciding limits on gambling occasions, time & amount of money spent), psycho-education (e.g., learning the signs and symptoms of problem and pathological gambling), impulse management (e.g., controlling urges to gamble), and self-monitoring (e.g., money and time spent gambling). A detailed discussion of this broad area is beyond the scope of these guidelines. Interested practitioners are encouraged to examine relevant materials from the alcohol field (e.g., Project MATCH manual) and the cocaine literature (e.g., NIDA’s cognitive behavioral manual for cocaine addiction) as a basis for exploring specific topic areas and selected exercises (Monti, Abrams, Kadden, & Cooney, 1989; National Institute of Drug Abuse, 1998; National Instituted on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1995).