Compulsive Gambling Insights


I have a unique perspective on the various issues that accompany compulsive gambling after 16 years of working with problem gamblers and their families.

With the explosion of casinos, gambling is the new kid on the block. So is gambling addiction. Currently there’s limited public awareness of compulsive gambling and gambling addiction. In certain areas of the country there’s limited access to gambling treatment and not enough advocates for prevention and treatment.

On the plus side, I have seen improvement in the quality and amount of available services for those who have gambling problems. Research into the cause of gambling addiction is in the early stages.

Today, most states have funds available for problem gambling hotlines, treatment and prevention. Initial awareness of problem gambling and the need for treatment was brought to the forefront by grassroot organizations most often created by those who were in recovery from gambling addiction.

From Addictions Specialist to Gambling Treatment Specialist

My own journey as a gambling treatment specialist began in 1996 after years of working with chemical dependency, adult children of alcoholics and recovering adolescents. That year, a proposition had been passed that mandated treatment in conjunction with the establishment of three land-based casinos within the city of Detroit. The State of Michigan advertised for therapists interested in working with gamblers.

After a year of training and supervision, in 1998 I received my certification as a Nationally Certified Gambling Counselor I (NCGCI) and was one of the first therapists on the state panel. Until my relocation to Arizona in 2003, I treated gamblers in the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital System and in my private practice in Ann Arbor. After I relocated to Arizona in 2003, I continued my work with compulsive gamblers and their families. I received my certification as a Nationally Certified Gambling Counselor II (NCGCII).

I learned a lot in those early years, and I am so grateful to my clients who provided insights into compulsive gambling that one could not get from a textbook or from the excellent workshops that I attended during and after my training. I am thankful for the support of my personal mentor, Dr. Lori Rugle, and to Joanna Franklin, NCGC-II, BACC and Deborah Haskins, NCGC-II, BACC who are all pioneers in the field of gambling addiction. They encouraged me to stretch and grow.

Most of all, I owe a debt of gratitude to my clients who have allowed me into their lives, one day at a time.

What I Learned About Gambling on Summer Vacation

This July, I attended the 30th National Conference on Problem Gambling in Tarrytown, New York. The title of the annual conference this year was “30 Years: Proud of Our Past, Planning Our Future.” New York was selected because 30 years ago this was the site for the National Council on Problem Gambling’s first conference.

Over 500 participants participated, including researchers, educators, therapists, gamblers, and family members. There were participants from all over the world including the Netherlands, Australia, Taiwan, and the U.K.  The two days were filled with lectures, workshops, and Professional Educational Development (PED) talks. Within the conference structure, tracks were available for therapy, prevention, and research as well as for those in recovery.

I enjoyed the meals (they were even able to accommodate my gluten free needs) and the snacks during breaks.  All events were held at the Westchester Marriott, which is located in the Lower Hudson Valley right off the Hudson River.

Kathryn Elliott-Hudson with Dr. Chuck Maurer

Kathryn Elliott-Hudson with Dr. Chuck Maurer

Fellow Therapists at NCPG Conference

Kathryn Elliott-Hudson with Jenny McIver (GA) and Catalina Christophe (AZ)

All the presentations I attended were stellar, but I had a few favorites:

  • “Developments in Treatment” by Mark Potenza, M.D., Yale University psychiatrist and researcher, whose focus was on the challenges of getting people with gambling problems into treatment and “identifying which treatments might work best for whom.”
  • Gender Differences in Treatment-Seeking British Pathological Gamblers by Henrietta Bowden-Jones, M.D., who developed the first national problem gambling clinic in the U.K.
  • Richard Rosenthal, M.D., founder of the gambling treatment program in UCLA, who presented a talk on how problem gambling became accepted as a disease in the medical world back in 1980.  His topic, “The Inclusion of Problem Gambling in the DSM-III” (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), was based on papers from the archives of the American Psychiatric Association and NCPG as well as his own documents and interviews with several members of the committee, in addition to his experience as a member of the DSM-IV IDNEC committee.
  • Longtime NCPG member and former board member Don Feeney of the Minnesota Lottery presented a fantastic PED talk, “Generations in Gambling.” His focus was on whether treatment developed for Baby Boomers is appropriate for Millennials, those born 1982 to 2004. Although the talk was brief, we were left with questions about accommodating the differences between the generations: what are the differences in their ideas and beliefs about gambling and in their gambling behavior? For instance, the Millennials grew up in an era of acceptance for gambling after lotteries opened the door; Baby Boomers had to be sold on it, literally.
  • Roberta Broughton from Ontario presented a workshop with focus on women and group work, two topics that are of particular interest to me.  Her topic was titled “Treatment of Female Gamblers: A Workbook and Webinar Effectiveness Pilot.” Roberta has designed a five-unit workbook focusing on issues presented by women gamblers. The workbook is designed to increase resilience and teach skills necessary for sustained recovery.
  • Dr. Heather Chapman, director of the Louis Stokes Hospital Gamblers Recovery Program (Brecksville, Ohio), discussed client reluctance and GA. As an aside, Brecksville was the first hospital to treat gamblers—ever—in 1972. For those of you who have questioned GA’s effectiveness or validity, Dr. Chapman said that GA continues to be underutilized, despite suggestions by therapists and others that GA is a helpful adjunct in the recovery process. I believe that a 12-step program is essential. Treatment is short-term, but the disease is always going to be there, and one needs as much ammunition as possible to keep the disease at bay. Where else in society besides GA can one get ongoing reinforcement and understanding about a disease that is “cunning, baffling and powerful”?

Why Attend a Gambling Conference

All of these topics allow me to be more sensitive to my clients’ needs. The field is changing as gambling has become more prevalent and the means of gambling more sophisticated.  We as therapists must continue to avail ourselves of opportunities that enhance our knowledge and allow us to share ideas so that we can best support those whose gambling has gone way beyond a social level in addition to those affected by their gambling.

I’m already looking forward to the 31st National Conference on Problem Gambling in Portland, Oregon, where the topic will be Listening, Learning, Leading, all of which I hope to do next July.  Until then, I will implement new information in individual and group sessions.

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte and Barbara Rollins

Kathryn Elliott-Hudson with National Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Keith Whyte and Barbara Rollins

Powerball Fever & Gamblers

When the Powerball rose to $1.4 billion recently, a lot of people wanted to play. And a lot of people bought a ticket or two or three. Maybe you were one of them and got caught up in Powerball fever.

I was interviewed by 12 News in Phoenix about the dangers of the Powerball lottery for people with a gambling addiction. You can watch the interview and read additional comments on this 12News story about the Powerball

Gambling addiction help

If the Powerball lottery has triggered your gambling addiction, it might be time to consider entering gambling treatment. As stated in the article, the state offers a 24-hour hotline for problem gamblers. Call 1-800-NEXT-STEP.

Gift Responsibly This Holiday Season


According to the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), research shows that the majority of adolescents gamble at least occasionally, and lottery products may be a gateway to problem gambling.

Lottery tickets are fun-filled and exciting presents, but they are not suitable gifts for minors. Studies suggest that gambling is a popular yet risky activity among youth. Additionally, researchers have reported a correlation between age of gambling onset and problem gambling later in life. Lottery play is sometimes an initial introduction to gambling activities for minors.

“Playing the lottery at a young age can increase the potential for problem gambling later in life,” said Jeffrey Derevensky, Director of McGill University’s Youth Gambling Centre.

According to NCPG’s Lottery Holiday Campaign, “Youth gambling has been shown to be linked to other risk-taking and addictive behaviors such as smoking, drinking and drug use.”

NCPG Executive Director Keith Whyte explained that it’s vital to raise awareness because research shows that some problem gamblers report beginning gambling during childhood — as early as 9-10 years of age. “The Holiday Campaign is a great way to encourage responsible gambling and help keep the fun in the holidays by gifting lottery tickets responsibly to adults.”

Remember: When giving a lottery product as a gift, please make sure you keep the person’s age in mind.


A Female Gambler’s Story

I just finished reading Marilyn Lancelot’s Gripped by Gambling, one of the first books written by a female gambler. This was my third reading, and the book was just as riveting as it was the first time. Marilyn is an incredible storyteller who chronicles her descent into addiction and the price she paid while held in its grip. She shares the struggles of a female gambler participating in recovery in a male-dominated “world” and reveals a portrait of a middle class grandmotherly type who could have been your next-door neighbor—except this neighbor has a secret: She is a gambler.

At the time the secret came to light, Marilyn had been involved in gambling almost from the time she arrived in Arizona 15 years earlier. What began as innocent fun in Laughlin became an obsession.

A Gambler or a Grandmother?

The embodiment of everyone’s grandmother, Marilyn didn’t fit the mold of the public’s perception of a cigar-smoking, overbearing, smooth-talking blowhard. Her gambling led to incarceration, and following this life-changing event, Marilyn relocated to the Phoenix area from Yuma. In search of a new beginning and help for her disease, she made the decision to attend Gamblers Anonymous where she had difficulty being accepted in a male-dominated recovery program. She persevered and eventually found acceptance within the group.

Recognizing that female gamblers presented some different issues as well as those that are unique to the female experience, Marilyn started one of the first women’s recovery groups in the United States. This first group was met with a lot of male opposition, but eventually the men were able to embrace the concept of “women preferred” groups.

A highly recommended book for female gamblers

A highly recommended book for female gamblers

Recently I had an opportunity to talk with Marilyn about her experiences, and I asked her the following questions:

In your opinion has the public perception of gamblers changed for the better or has this perception remained the same?

Marilyn thinks that there’s now a little bit more understanding from the public, but she agreed that we have a long way to go to promote the concept of gambling as a disease.

You wrote this book almost 7 years ago. What changes, if any, have you witnessed within the recovery community?

Marilyn noted these changes: younger people are gambling, there’s more Internet gambling, the sheer number of meetings has greatly expanded throughout the state, and more people are accessing treatment. Also, Marilyn indicated that there are now more women’s groups and more understanding by male members as to why women’s preferred groups are needed.

Gambling Resources from Marilyn Lancelot

Gripped by Gambling is the first of three books that Marilyn authored. Her latest book, Detour: Avoiding Temptations That Lead to Addiction, is now available on Amazon. Her other book is called Switching Addictions…Why Didn’t Someone Tell Me? All three books are available in paperback and Kindle format. All three books can be found on Amazon on Marilyn Lancelot’s Amazon author page.

Her proudest accomplishment is the newsletter “Women Helping Women.” She said that whenever she considers shutting down the newsletter, she receives a flurry of email from women all over the world. With its original articles written by Marilyn, addictions specialists, and other women in recovery, Marilyn’s newsletter is an especially vital link for women who may not have access to meetings or live in areas where meetings are scarce. In addition, “Women Helping Women” creates community for women all over the world.

Skating on the Edge

I have become concerned about the number of what I perceive are “near misses” reported by clients in recovery from gambling addiction. A near miss, in my opinion, is often a gray area that a client somehow does not see as problematic. A near miss may be the gateway to other compromises or a direct path to relapse. The subtle little things may ultimately prove to be problematic, and it’s not always the big issues that can be a deal breaker for your sustained recovery.

What follows are some things to consider so that you can avoid skating too close to gambling addiction’s blurry edges and falling through the ice.

Raffles: Good Cause or a Bad Idea?

An example of a gray area might be the “innocent” raffle ticket that you consider purchasing or selling for a good cause. Some of you are double or even triple winners. In recovery terms, a “winner” is an individual who belongs to a 12 step group. You might be approached by someone in your other 12 Step programs who ask you to buy or sell a 50-50 raffle ticket. In a 50-50 raffle half of the proceeds go to purchase literature for newcomers’ packets and the winner gets the other half. Saying no to a fellow recovery friend may be difficult, but remember, there are other ways to support the group such as making coffee, acting as a room greeter, setting up and clearing up after the meeting.

A local healthcare organization holds a fundraising raffle with opportunities to win many choice prizes. There are many fine organizations doing amazing work in our communities, and fundraising is an integral part of those groups. However, for those whose primary focus is playing to win rather than supporting the cause, this type of a fundraiser can be problematic and rekindle old fires.

Gambling Temptation via the Mailman

Sometimes the mail brings temptation in the form of offers from an entity such as the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes guaranteeing that you have one of the winning numbers. You quickly forget that at least half your neighbors have received the same special envelopes and have also been assured that they are the holders of the lucky numbers. According to the official rules, the estimated odds of winning the $1 million a year forever are one in 1.3 billion. How lucky can you get?

Gaming via Smart Phones and Computers

One of the biggest potential time bombs are casino-like games on personal computers and cell phones, especially those that offer “free play.” Free play may initially seem innocent enough. After all, there’s nothing out of pocket. It is possible to play for a while for free, but then the old bait-and-switch occurs, and the next thing you know, you must pay for the “extras” that are part of the game. Sometimes you’re hooked into playing these free games through invitations by friends on social media, or when pop-up advertising of these games seem like no big deal at first. These “innocent” and “free” games may put you on thin ice so that eventually you go for the real thing.

To Bet or Not to Bet

Avid sports fans in recovery may struggle with not participating in office pools such as Fantasy Football or Sweet 16, whether or not money is involved. By the way, offering advice to those who are playing is a vicarious thrill you can’t afford. During Kentucky Derby parties, the focus is on the buffet and elaborate hats, but the bottom line is that the betting is for real. Placing a bet during a simple game of golf, no matter how small the amount, is another gray area that should be recognized. The focus may be diverted to the win and not to the enjoyment of the game itself. Concentrate instead of improving that swing.

The Popularity of Casino Nights

Another potential near miss is when your work holds a holiday party that has a casino night theme, and you are expected to attend. Even though money won’t be exchanged at the event, you are entered into a drawing for prizes. What do you do? Hopefully you shared your recovery with your spouse or significant other, and there is a level of accountability and protection. Stating empathetically that you don’t gamble and are waiting for the dancing is always a good strategy, and when the music starts get out there and show that you mean business.

Another difficult choice can arise when your social service organization sponsors a casino night. Not only are you expected to attend but you might also be easily swayed by the good cause that the event is supporting. If the cause means that much to you, in lieu of attending, I’m sure the organization would appreciate a donation in any amount.

Those Enticing Scratchers

The gaming industry makes the most of their advertising dollars through digital and print media. It is not uncommon to find scratcher ads stuck on the front page of the Sunday newspaper. These scratchers can only be validated at the gaming venue. For those who indulged in scratchers prior to recovery, this type of advertising can be a potent trigger.

Skating Through Recovery, Free from Gambling Addiction

Ultimately, don’t let the gray areas ruin your recovery and skate you back into the black days of addiction. What’s the solution? Avoid gray areas by remaining vigilant. When in doubt, check it out with your therapist or with your recovery group, your sponsor, and peers who have a solid recovery.

5th International Gambling Conference Highlights

Kathryn Elliott-Hudson presenting at the 5th Annual Gambling Conference

Kathryn Elliott-Hudson with co-presenters Dr. Phillip Townshend and Matthew McMillan at the 5th International Gambling Conference

I was invited to present at the 5th International Gambling Conference in Auckland, New Zealand, February 19-21, 2014. I’ll share some of the highlights of this conference, whose goal was to examine “how positive change can be brought about through research, policy, and practice.”

On February 20, I had the privilege of presenting, along with Matthew McMillan and Dr. Phillip Townshend. Our topic was “Working Toward Best Practice: Reflections from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.” My portion of the presentation was focused on gambling in Arizona, which included information about the Office of Problem Gambling, the Treatment Assistance Program, and an historical perspective of gambling in this state. The presentation was well received, and I fielded quite a few questions during the Q&A and later at lunch.

The conference, an educational and cultural experience, was held at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), City Campus Conference Center, which was completed just in time for the conference.  It was hosted by Hapai Te Hauora Tapui Maori Public Health, the Gambling and Addictions Research Centre at AUT, and the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF).

Approximately 300 people representing fifteen countries attended. I was one of three U.S. presenters. Newly retired Judge Mark Farrell, a friend of mine, delivered the keynote “Therapeutic Justice: The World’s First Gambling Treatment Court” about the criminal and civil treatment court he founded in Amherst, NY in 1996.

Another keynote of particular interest was delivered by Professor Gerda Reith of the University of Glasgow on “Mobile and Social Gambling: Key Trends and Challenges for Research.” I also enjoyed the workshop “Web-Based Counseling for Problem Gambling” presented by Simone Rodda from Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Victoria, Australia.

Because the focus of the conference was on technology, each attendee received an Android tablet with a preloaded conference app so that we could view the program, information about the keynote speakers, presenter abstracts and bios, and maps of the venue. Despite a wonderful how-to video, there were many laughs as we struggled to learn to use our devices, and a call was sent out to any nearby five-year-olds who could possibly help us.

On the cultural side, the welcome powhiri was a one-time experience for a manuhiri (visitor). It was their way of officially welcoming us to Aotearoa/New Zealand and to the conference. This event took place at the sacred place or Marae, and each morning there was some sort of ritual except for one morning when we had the Pacific Welcome, songs and dance of other Pacific islands such as Tonga, Fiji, and Samoa.

A Maori expression appeared with the conference logo: Ma te korero ka mohio, Ma te mohio ka marama, Ma te marama ka matau, Ma te matau ka ora. It means: Through discussion comes understanding, through understanding comes light, through light comes wisdom, through wisdom comes wellbeing. I left the conference with a new appreciation for the potential application of technology in the counseling setting.

It is possible that the presentations will become available online in the near future, and if so, I will publish an update to this post.


Review of Bill Lee’s Born to Lose

I just finished rereading Born to Lose: Memoirs of a Compulsive Gambler by Bill Lee. I was so compelled by his story that I was unable to put the book down after planning to read just a few pages. The next thing I knew it was 2:00 a.m.  Reading the book a second time was just as riveting. Bill Lee’s childhood—even before he was born—was filled with many jaw-dropping moments. He describes his descent into hell in a graphic and poignant way.

The book is the story of addiction told from the perspective of a male action gambler. Bill Lee was born in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where he was exposed at an early age to the gambling culture. The author speaks of early indoctrination and acceptance of gambling within his community.

“My history of gambling really began before I was born,” Lee says in the book. He was born into a culture in which it was not unheard of to lose fortunes and even one’s children to gambling. He talks about a generational influence as he was a third generation gambler. He believes that he is one of those unfortunate individuals who is predisposed to gambling and that all it took was exposure, and he was off and running.

Although he spent time in Vegas, the action primarily takes place in his hometown, but his story could have happened anywhere.  Gambling is about time, money and most importantly, availability.

He eventually finds recovery through the Twelve Step program and shares his challenges in accepting his disease and the structure of the Twelve Steps. At the time of the book’s writing, Lee had a 40-year history of gambling followed by 15 years of involvement with GA.

There is a ray of sunshine in reading the book as Lee shares his experience, strength and hope. He seems to have held off his demons one day at a time and credits GA. Before he surrendered to GA, he relapsed and questioned GA traditions and procedures, but in the end he came to praise the gift that he had been given.

Lee is a writer by profession and has been featured on several television shows. His memoir was published in 2005 by Hazelden Publishing, which “provides products and services to help people recognize, understand, and overcome addiction.”

Born to Lose is available in paperback and a Kindle version by following this link to Amazon.

Book Cover: Born to Lose by Bill Lee

Remembering Joanna Franklin

Last week I had my bi-monthly breakfast with two of my colleagues who are also working with gamblers. The main topic of conversation was the sudden passing of our beloved colleague, mentor and friend, Joanna Franklin, on Saturday, October 5. We each talked about how we met Joanna and the impact she had on our lives.

I first met Joanna in the spring of 1997. She had come to Michigan to train those of us who were interested in working with problem gamblers. Our training was held in an office building near the soon-to-be Greektown Casino in Detroit’s Trapper’s Alley and sponsored by the now-defunct Michigan Council on Problem Gambling. My initial plan was to attend to see if there was something to benefit the program I was working in at a local hospital. At the time, I loved my work in chemical dependency. I loved my clients and colleagues.  However, that day in 1997 would mark a new beginning for me.

After Joanna was introduced by the executive director of the council, she stepped forward, her gaze sweeping the room, and said that gambling was “in one word, magic.” Gambling for the gambler, she said, was “magic” because it solved so many things, at least prior to the addiction manifesting itself. She talked about the impact of gambling, time that can never be recaptured, the financial and emotional toll on the individual and families. By the end of the morning session, I knew that somehow my career path would shift in a significant way. This, I knew, was to be the icing on the cake.

Joanna continued to work with us throughout 1997, providing education, inspiration and very practical support. She brought in other experts to expand our knowledge base, and she was always available to answer questions and validate the baby steps that we took on our road to becoming nationally certified gambling counselors.

It was Joanna who encouraged me to start a women’s group as part of my private practice. Joanna later told me that mine was one of the first, if not the first, group for women gamblers in the United States. She encouraged me to explore how women would better benefit from help within the treatment delivery system. I was inspired to look for any and all references and resources to be a more effective counselor. The early literature tended to focus on the issues of a predominantly male gambling population. Joanna encouraged me to talk to others about  working with women gamblers and explore techniques that would benefit their unique needs.

After my move to Arizona in 2003, our relationship shifted from a less direct mentorship as I began to gain more confidence. We always managed to connect each year at the National Conference on Problem Gambling, and she was always supportive and validated my growth, commitment and special interest in women gamblers. In Seattle this past July after exchanging our usual hugs she asked about my practice and my future plans. As always, I checked in to see what was happening with her in Maryland, and she talked about her daughter Heather, whom I had met at several conferences, a new grandchild, and of course, her husband Carl.  When we parted I said, “See you next year in Orlando.”

According to Keith Whyte, NCPG president, “Joanna trained thousands and thousands of counselors and helped set high standards for the profession through her work on certification.” She designed and delivered clinical training programs in 45 states, 10 Canadian provinces, among 31 tribes and in 9 other countries.

I know the world is a better place for Joanna Franklin having been here, in particular for those individuals and families who have been impacted by problem gambling, and for all who met her, her genuine caring and love for people. She was one of the most significant influences on the work I do today.

Thank you, Joanna. What a legacy to leave—a job well done.

After the Phone Call

Making the call for help is not a decision that is made lightly. It is a rare individual who is not anxious about picking up the phone and making that all-important call. Without a doubt, showing up for the first appointment may be equally anxiety provoking. However, if a client knows what to expect at the first session, this may help alleviate fear and anxiety.

During that initial call a question I’m often asked is, “What’s the cost of treatment?”  As a TAP provider, I can access monies allocated to the Office of Problem Gambling to support our treatment efforts. No one is ever turned away, and co-pays are based on one’s ability to pay, indebtedness, and need.  During the first appointment, I evaluate a client’s financial status and suggest an affordable co-pay.

The assessment or intake process normally takes 90 minutes. The goals of the assessment are for connection, disclosure, paperwork, and interpretation/planning. I encourage clients to come to their session at least 15 to 30 minutes beforehand to complete their paperwork so that they can spend the bulk of their first session sharing their gambling history and what they would like to accomplish in recovery.

In the connection stage of the first appointment, the goal is for the client to get to know the therapist and vice versa. During the disclosure phase, the focus is on the client telling his/her story. The information gathered is designed to formulate a plan of action.

During disclosure, I’m looking for what the client is seeking, his/her gambling history, and consequences.  This is the time during the assessment that I introduce the concept of gambling as a disease.

Paperwork consists of documents required by the state of Arizona’s Board of Behavioral Health, the Office of Problem Gambling, and HIPPAA as well as those documents required by the therapist. The issue of confidentiality is addressed.

The interpretation stage focuses on assessing what it is the client wants to achieve in therapy and prioritizes the client’s needs and assesses their support system. If there are medical concerns, I stress the need for an appointment with the primary care physician.

By the end of the session, we have an initial treatment plan, which will be our roadmap for next four to five weeks. The client receives an Informed Consent document to take home. We set a standing appointment. Standing appointments are very important for the client to begin the process of putting structure and accountability in his/her life.

Sometimes the client is accompanied to the first session by a friend or a loved one. Occasionally that individual is eager to share the impact of the addiction on their life or on the family system. When this occurs, I allow a small amount of disclosure and encourage that individual to seek his/her own appointment, or I refer them to Gam-Anon.

After this first appointment, clients are normally seen on a weekly basis. That’s when the real work begins, but it all starts with that phone call and first appointment.

Gamblers Need A Gambling Therapist


Gambling therapists understand gambling addiction.

Periodically a client will say to me, “I went to XYZ therapist and she/he didn’t know anything about gambling.” Or they might say, “You really seem to understand. My last couple of therapists didn’t.”

I quickly point out we live in an era of specialization. For decades, the medical field has realized that there is far too much information required to effectively treat each issue/ disease. Your family doctor refers you to someone who specializes in a particular problem and has had additional training in their area of specialty. For example, you go to a cardiologist because you have problems with your heart.

Likewise, in the behavioral health field, there are many issues that require special intervention and experience treating a particular issue such as eating disorders, sexual addiction, grief and loss.

Some therapists specialize in treating gamblers. What does this specialization mean for those of us who specialize in gambling treatment? 

  • The therapist who treats gamblers must have specific training in gambling as an addiction.
  • This therapist must know best practices in treating gambling and have an understanding of community resources, particularly in the area of finances and legal matters.
  • A gambling therapist must have an understanding of the impact of the disease on the family system.

Without gambling-specific training, it is difficult for a therapist to adequately treat those impacted by gambling.

If you have any questions about whether or not someone is an approved provider for gambling treatment services in Arizona, consult the Office of Problem Gambling’s website. The providers on this list are part of the state-funded network of gambling treatment providers. Their training and supervision keeps them aware of best practices in the ever-growing field of gambling treatment.

Refer to the Office of Problem Gambling’s website for further details of this program.