Natural and treatment-assisted recovery from gambling problems: a comparison of resolved and active gamblers

Addiction. 2000 May;95(5):777-89. doi: 10.1046/j.1360-0443.2000.95577713.x.


Aim: An exploratory study was conducted to understand the process of recovery from gambling problems.

Design: Media recruitment was used to identify a resolved (n = 43) and a comparison group of active pathological gamblers (n = 63).

Participants: Participants showed evidence of significant problems related to gambling as well as high rates of co-morbid mood and substance use disorders. The median length of resolution was 14 months with a range of 6 weeks to 20 years.

Findings: Resolved gamblers reported a variety of reasons for quitting gambling, related mainly to emotional and financial factors. They did not experience a greater number of precipitating life events compared with active gamblers but did report an increase in positive and a decrease in negative life events in the year after resolution. Both resolved and active gamblers who had relatively more severe problems were more likely to have had treatment or self-help involvement, whereas those with less severe problems, if resolved, were "naturally recovered".

Conclusions: The results support the need for a continuum of treatment options for problem gamblers and provide helpful information about recovery processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Gambling / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Media
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Selection
  • Remission, Spontaneous
  • Self Disclosure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome