Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of talking therapy. It helps people to manage their difficulties by supporting them to find more helpful ways of thinking and behaving.
Evidence shows that if you have a gambling disorder, you will often think differently from other people about gambling. You might believe that:
- you are more likely to win than other people
- in a game with random numbers, like roulette, certain numbers are more likely to come up than others
- winning twice in a row means that you are on a 'winning streak'
- you are more likely to win at a game of chance if you are familiar with it
- certain rituals can bring you luck
- having lost, you can win back your losses by gambling more.
Research has shown that CBT can help you find more helpful ways to think and behave. It can also get you to think about a life outside of gambling, and:
- reduce the number of days you spend gambling
- reduce the amount of money you lose and
- help you to stay away from gambling for longer once you have stopped.
CBT for gambling is typically provided in eight one-hour sessions, either individually or in a group. In CBT, you will:
- learn strategies to reduce your opportunities to gamble
- manage your cravings and triggers
- challenge some of your gambling-related thoughts.
There are often tasks to complete in between the sessions to help build on the topics covered in therapy.
Naltrexone is a type of medication commonly used to treat alcohol and opioid addiction. We now know that there is good evidence that it can be helpful in managing a gambling disorder.
Naltrexone can be particularly helpful for people who have tried psychological therapy but have been unable to stop and still experience a strong urge to gamble. It can help people to reduce their gambling and to stay away from gambling.
The CNWL National Problem Gambling Clinic can prescribe Naltrexone, following an assessment by a psychiatrist. GPs do not usually prescribe Naltrexone. However, GPs may be able to continue a prescription after it has been started by a psychiatrist.
Other mental health conditions are common in people with a gambling disorder. If this is the case, medication such as antidepressants can be prescribed. Once the mental health condition is better managed, the gambling disorder can also improve.
12 Step Programmes
12 Step Programmes, such as Gambler’s Anonymous, assume that a dependence on gambling or alcohol is a disease. They believe that the best people to support you are those who have had similar experiences.
Regular meetings are held where members share their problems and the ways they have overcome them. Meetings are offered throughout the UK and many people with gambling disorders find these helpful.
You may also need practical help, such as:
- managing your debts
- dealing with family problems or
- treating other psychological/psychiatric problems.
If this is the case, you can receive support from your GP or a debt management charity, such as StepChange.