Types of Gamblers

Among pathological gamblers, several subgroups can be distinguished:

Some are characterized by early onset, rapid progression, the presence of signs of behavioural disorders and hyperactivity syndrome in childhood, impulsivity, and dependence on psychoactive substances and alcohol.

Others become gamblers in adulthood through the mechanism of positive reinforcement after a string of winnings.

Still, others develop an addiction due to the use of games as a means of relief from problems, helplessness, and depressive disorders.

Treatment of gambling addiction

The treatment and rehabilitation program for gambling addiction includes psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy and social therapy.


Psychotherapy is aimed at overcoming the pathological craving for games, correcting mental disorders that arise as a result of gambling addiction, and treating comorbidities. In severe cases, it is performed in a hospital setting. The primary method is cognitive behavioural therapy. It consists of several stages:

Conducting a motivational interview to determine the patient’s interest in treatment, ways to increase it, and planning possible ways to change behaviour.

Identifying situations that lead to gambling – triggers. Developing alternative actions when these situations arise.

It is keeping a diary of the patient, which records triggers or situations that cause strong emotions.

We are developing an action plan when an urge to play arises—mandatory encouragement for success.

Training in autogenic training techniques – self-hypnosis, elements of oriental techniques and immersion in a relaxation state.

Group therapy

In addition to individual counselling, psychotherapeutic work is carried out in small groups and family sessions. The main directions of the groups’ work are edge, working with feelings and their manifestations, interpersonal communication training, and group analysis of independent work. Family sessions are aimed at building relationships with loved ones. Information and educational sessions are also conducted, where attention is paid to the causes, development and consequences of gambling addiction, information about groups of “Gamblers Anonymous” and other knowledge necessary to prevent relapses are provided.

Gamblers Anonymous groups are self-help groups for pathological gamblers. They are the result of the voluntary association of patients themselves with the goal of helping themselves, and others get on the path to recovery. Participants receive support, information, and the opportunity to “talk it out” and thereby experience catharsis and relief. The groups are accessible and free, and participation is anonymous and confidential.

Drug therapy 

It is an addition to psychotherapy. The most commonly used are antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and opioid receptor antagonists.

Prevention of gambling addiction

Educating the public about the dangers of addiction and the detrimental effects connected to it is the first step towards preventing the emergence of a gambling addiction. Legislative measures play a significant role: licensing of gambling establishments, age restrictions, banning gambling advertising, moving establishments outside of cities, etc. An important area is public measures: the formation of a negative attitude towards gambling in society, support for self-help groups, and preparation and release of videos, posters, and books.

Secondary prevention is aimed at working with representatives of the risk group: classes, training, motivational counselling, drug and psychotherapeutic treatment of people with initial signs of addiction to games, and family and group psychotherapy. Tertiary prevention is carried out among patients in remission.