Treatment of gambling disorder: review of evidence-based aspects for best practice

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2021 Jul 16. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000728. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Purpose of review: Despite a significant body of literature related to the treatment of gambling disorder, there are still an insufficient number of evaluation studies regarding their effectiveness or firm conclusions on specific treatment elements that contribute to it. The aim of this article was to provide a review of scientific results regarding the treatment of gambling disorder, to present the most commonly applied modalities of treatment and to explore the elements of the most successful therapeutic interventions.

Recent findings: A substantial body of literature has shown that the most successful therapeutic protocols are psychological interventions, especially based on cognitive-behavioral therapy/methods and/or motivational interviewing. Other interventions with promising results include different self-help interventions and mindfulness. Interventions such as couples therapy and support groups, may have positive effects in terms of increasing therapeutic adherence and retention, while pharmacotherapy is especially useful in patients with comorbidities.

Summary: Gambling disorder is a complex mental health problem caused by a wide spectrum of different biological, psychological, and social risk factors. Treatment options for gambling disorder need to be wide, flexible, accessible, and economically justified, providing early inclusion, retention, and sustainability of long-term effects of the treatment, that is, abstinence and higher quality of psychosocial functioning.