Innovative Therapy Program Tackles Gambling Addiction in Las Vegas

In Las Vegas, the International Problem Gambling Center is pioneering a unique approach to combat gambling addiction: the use of intensive cognitive therapy to identify and address the emotional triggers that lead to compulsive gambling.

International Problem Gambling Center sees success with intensive cognitive therapy.

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The International Problem Gambling Center’s program, led by Stephanie Goodman, involves intensive cognitive therapy sessions for six weeks during which participants engage in counseling and group discussions to explore the underlying reasons behind their gambling behaviors.

Goodman notes that while only about 6% of Nevadans are chronic problem gamblers, it’s important to recognize gambling addiction as a serious mental health issue, not just a matter of willpower. This perception is vital to reducing the stigma that often prevents individuals from seeking help.

Addressing Stigma and Providing Comprehensive Treatment

The societal stigma surrounding gambling addiction often leads to its dismissal, making it challenging for sufferers to seek necessary support. Goodman emphasizes that gambling addiction, like any addiction, requires thorough treatment and societal empathy.

Dr. Kobie West, the center’s assistant clinical director, explained that cognitive therapy is the cornerstone of their treatment due to the lack of effective medications. This therapy focuses on identifying unresolved emotional triggers and traumas that drive individuals to gamble as a form of escapism. By addressing these underlying issues, addicts can confront past traumas and other significant life events that may have contributed to their addiction.

The center’s innovative approach combines individual counseling with group activities, where patients discuss their gambling-related issues. This strategy encourages healthier emotional coping mechanisms, steering individuals away from destructive behaviors like gambling.

Therapists often use techniques such as the “pizza pie” analogy, which asks addicts to envision their lives without gambling, highlighting the importance of filling the void left by gambling with positive actions.

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Impressively High Success Rates

The center’s success is evident, with a recovery rate significantly higher than the national average. While only 8-10% of problem gamblers typically remain in recovery after a year, the center boasts a 44% success rate, which jumps to 98% for those who continue follow-up sessions. Goodman attributes this success to active participation in the recovery process and a strong desire to overcome addiction.

The center’s program offers hope for those struggling with gambling addiction while demonstrating the importance of treating every aspect of a person’s life impacted by gambling addiction to achieve long-term success.

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