Gambling and problem gambling among clients, and staff attitudes, in an alcohol and drug problems treatment service in the English Midlands

Abstract

Motivation: Morbidity of problem gambling with alcohol and drugs problems has been reported internationally. Drug and alcohol treatment facilities might be suitable location for future gambling treatment services. Objective: Compare gambling-related problems among substance and alcohol users at treatment facilities in the English Midlands with national figures. Survey staff attitudes towards involvement in problem gambling treatment. Method: 274 clients of alcohol and drug problems services, a non-statutory alcohol treatment organisation and an NHS Mental Health Trust, completed questionnaires including questions about past-year participation in 11 gambling forms and a brief version of the South Oaks Gambling Screen (SOGS), allowing comparisons with the British Gambling Prevalence Survey (BGPS). 91 staff members from both institutions were surveyed using an adapted version of the Alcohol and Alcohol Problems Perception Questionnaire (AAPPQ) scoring on motivation, satisfaction, knowledge and skills, legitimacy, role support and self-esteem in relation to working with problem gamblers. Results: Client participation figures were at least 50% above national ones for dog racing, other betting with a bookmaker and casino games, otherwise similar. Proportions of clients engaging in four or more gambling activities were higher than national average (20.3% versus 14.5%), others were similar or lower. Men were more likely to engage in more than four activities and in each form of gambling except lotteries and scratchcards. Some age variation was also found, with problems more likely to affect 35-44-year olds. On the brief SOGS scale, the problem gambling rate in the client group (at two-item indication, 7.0%) exceeded the rate in the general population (2.7%). Average attitudes in the staff survey lay close to neutral on all six scales, although fell on the positive side, with the exception of knowledge and skills. Many items on all scales were answered neutrally, presumably due to lack of relevant experience. In the area of motivation to work with problem gamblers, some items were predominately neutral, others indicated an interest. Discussion: Gambling reported by clients indicated a raised risk of gambling problems when compared with national figures. The moderately encouraging results from the staff survey show a tentative interest of working with problem gamblers and support the view that alcohol and drug treatment services are appropriate locations for the development of services for people with gambling problems. Staff would need additional training to increase confidence and knowledge and skills required to work with problems gamblers.

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