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Clinical and Research News
How to Help Gamblers Confront Their Problems
Psychiatric News
Volume 38 Number 22 page 24-24

Both Otto Kausch, M.D., a psychiatrist treating pathological gamblers, and Richard McCormick, Ph.D., a pioneer in problem gambling and a mentor of Kausch (see story above), have some tips on how to treat pathological gamblers.

First, "it is important that clinicians assess patients of all ages who present with depression, addictions, and other psychiatric disorders to assure that undiagnosed problem gambling is not an important comorbid condition that needs to be addressed," McCormick told Psychiatric News.

Second, "those who treat pathological gamblers should assess for suicidal risk as a part of their assessments," Kausch emphasized in his Journal of Clinical Psychiatry report. "Gamblers, especially those with comorbid substance abuse problems, are highly impulsive, and impulsivity is a risk factor for suicidal behavior."

Third, "treatment should include a focus on comorbid conditions, as well as helping pathological gamblers become less impulsive in their behavior," Kausch wrote.

When Psychiatric News asked him how to treat gamblers for their impulsivity, he replied: "Basically gamblers and substance abusers lack healthy coping strategies for stressful events and use a dysfunctional behavior, such as gambling or substance abuse, instead. You need to help them realize the nature of their dysfunctional ways of coping with stressful situations and teach them healthier ways of dealing with such situations. You should also emphasize to them that their impulsive behavior is habitual and that they need to stay in treatment to help them through the rough times, which are inevitable."

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