Drink and Drugs News DDN December 2019 | Page 16

GAMBLING – THE TREATMENT What does effective treatment for problem gambling look like, and how do people go about accessing it? GETTING IT RIGHT A vailability of the right support, in the right place, at the right time,’ is how the National strategy to reduce gambling harms describes its goal for gambling treatment in the UK. Fully achieving this will require better care pathways via primary care and social care, it says, along with improved commissioning arrangements and support for people who have other mental health issues alongside problem gambling. 22 While waiting lists for gambling treatment tend to be short compared to those for drug or alcohol treatment, provision remains comparatively restricted in terms of geographical coverage, reach and funding, the strategy adds. According to a 2016 evidence review by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 23 while the evidence base for treatment had remained limited so far, interventions that had proved effective include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – when delivered by CBT-trained professionals – motivational interviewing and practitioner-delivered treatment interventions. There was relatively little evidence when it came to group psychological interventions, and the paper also recommended that research be carried out into whether abstinence-based programmes were more effective than ‘those without a total abstinence goal’. It clearly stated, however, that gambling treatment services should have ‘parity of esteem with other mental disorders’. THE RIGHT MIX REFERRAL ROUTES Treatment services should be providing ‘the right mix of a broad range of options’ to address identified needs, states the national strategy. These options should include individual, group, residential and online treatment and support, alongside peer support and help for loved ones and ‘affected others’. More understanding is also needed around people who do not access treatment, it stresses, to help identify barriers to access. This is especially important when it comes to the stigma that is still strongly associated with all forms of addiction. People can self-refer to gambling treatment, often via the National Gambling Helpline, or they can be referred by health professionals, usually their GP. However, while primary care and other NHS services are currently ‘diagnosing and treating people for co-occurring challenges or conditions such as alcohol dependency or mental ill health’, data on people who have accessed gambling support this way is limited, says the national strategy, and lack of awareness of treatment options among professionals such as social workers or GPs remains a key issue. BETKNOWMORE UK Betknowmore UK founder Frankie Graham describes how he was able to use his own experience of problem gambling to help others I started to gamble from a young age, and by the time I was in my late teens I had an addiction, usually gambling until every penny was gone. When I committed to recovery it was built around volunteering for a mental health charity, as well as therapy. I retrained and went on to manage community projects with young offenders for 6 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • WIDER HEALTH SERIES the YMCA. Noticing that some of the young people were presenting with gambling problems, I took redundancy and enrolled on a business start-up scheme to develop Betknowmore UK. My plan was to replicate the young offender work – mentoring programmes with a focus on health, wellbeing and empowerment – and remodel that for gamblers. WWW.DRINKANDDRUGSNEWS.COM