Harvard Health Publications

New book offers help for gambling addiction

Posted By Julie Silver, M.D. On March 23, 2012

Millions of Americans have a little fun playing slot machines now and then, buying state lottery tickets, or betting on horse races or other sporting activities. For some, though, gambling is an addiction that can be as intense and harmful as an addiction to alcohol or drugs. One national survey estimated that about two million Americans have experienced some gambling-related problems.

If gambling is a problem for you or a loved one, I would like to recommend Change Your Gambling, Change Your Life, a new book from Harvard Health Publications. This research-based guide was written by Dr. Howard Shaffer, a pioneer in the field of gambling addiction who directs the Division on Addictions at Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance. His coauthors include Ryan Martin, PhD, John Kleschinsky, MPH, and Liz Neporent, MA.

Change Your Gambling, Change Your Life offers a series of self-help tests to evaluate the depth of a person’s gambling problem and analyze its context. The book includes a toolbox of practical strategies and approaches to control the urge to gamble, and advice for avoiding slips and backslides.

“Pathological gambling” was first recognized as a diagnosis in 1980. More than 30 years later, the study and treatment of gambling problems is still in its infancy, with new ideas and proposed treatments appearing all the time. Given this constant change, a gambler seeking help can feel, as Dr. Shaffer put it, “like a rudderless ship adrift on an ocean of indifference and misinformation.”

Change Your Gambling, Change Your Life can help you chart a course to the kind of life you want to live. More information about the book, which gambling addiction expert Jeffrey Derevensky called “a wonderful resource for individuals with a gambling addiction seeking to improve their lives,” is available at Harvard Health Publications’ website.

Related Information: Overcoming Addiction: Paths toward recovery

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