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There May Be A Treatment Shortage For Gambling Addiction

When you think of recovery, the common themes that pop up are are drug and alcohol dependencies. And (rightly so) there are a good amount of facilities equipped to assist with those problems across the country. But the same may not be true for those battling a gambling addiction. According to new research from National Public Radio, counselors in this field could be in short supply.

In a new podcast segment featured on the Public Radio site, experts spoke out on the lack of support for people dealing with gambling issues. Leading Massachusetts researcher Sarah Nelson was interviewed for the piece and called out the fact that many recovery counselors are ill equipped to handle this type of dependency.

“I think the question you have to ask — and that we don’t have a good answer to yet — is what that treatment demand is,” Nelson explained. “Different types of treatment are going to work for different people. So some people may want to have access to something like Gamblers Anonymous or self-help resources, whereas other people might want, you know, more formal treatment in an outpatient setting.”

Massachusetts, in particular, is seeing a rise in this type of issue. In the past year, multiple prominent casinos have opened up across the state; including the MGM Grand.

The unfortunate fact there is, gambling treatment centers are in limited supply. Out of Massachusetts’ 137 recovery facilities licensed by the state, only 27 had a certified gambling counselor on staff.

There is no denying that treating this type of addiction requires a special set of skills. There are compulsion issues to deal with. Plus, it is important to recognize the self-harm and potential suicide risks that can come out of a dependency like this.

Nelson brought up some good points when discussing solutions for the lack of proper gambling support. The truth of the matter is, you don’t need to bring in separate specialists. The better route is to teach the trained drug and alcohol counselors about the symptoms of this particular habit.

It is a sad fact, but gambling and substance abuse problems often go hand in hand. So having sufficient training in both areas can allow for a fuller, more well rounded support system.

That happens to be a model that we embrace at Valley Recovery Center, with programs that accommodate problem gamblers (who may or may not have a drug or alcohol addiction). In our home state of California, casinos are quite prominent and we certainly agree that the need for more trained gambling addiction counselors is critical.