Gambling addiction can be successfully treated. In severe cases, such as when a gambling addict is suicidal, stabilization with inpatient treatment will likely be necessary.
Once safety is assured, partial hospitalization programs or outpatient treatment can be effective. Three primary approaches have been found to be beneficial. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and group therapy, focuses on identifying irrational, faulty thinking that feeds into the addiction and replacing it with accurate, healthy thoughts.
A self-help group such as Gamblers Anonymous is another approach. Again, this is a 12-step group where the addict gains strength and support from fellow addicts.
Certified gambling counselors are professionals who have received a minimum of 30 hours of training specifically designed to treat gambling addiction and the particular problems that gambling addicts face. Once they have completed coursework, they receive a period of additional supervision by an experienced professional before becoming certified by a national or state accrediting organization.
Medications have also brought some relief to individuals suffering from gambling addiction. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as clomipramine, citalopram, fluoxetine, and fluvoxamine have been used to treat the impulsiveness associated with gambling addiction.
Naltrexone, an opiate antagonist, has also had some success in the treatment of gambling addiction. Lithium has been found to be helpful in treating the more manic symptoms a gambling addict may experience. Of course, co-occurring addictions and mental health problems must also be treated for a full recovery.