Pathological gambling recovery in the absence of abstinence

Abstract

{AIMS} To examine the role of abstinence from gambling versus controlled gambling in recovery from pathological gambling {(PG)} in a community-based survey. {DESIGN} Individuals with a life-time history of {PG} identified in a community-based survey were divided into three groups based on their current levels of {PG} symptoms. These three groups were compared to each other on their past-year gambling involvement. {SETTING} National general population twin survey conducted in Australia. {PARTICIPANTS} Overall, there were 4764 participants in the community-based survey (mean age 37.7 years, 57.2% women). Among these were 104 participants with a life-time history of {PG;} of the 104 with a life-time diagnosis of {PG}, 28 had a past-year diagnosis of {PG}, 32 had past-year problem gambling and 44 had no symptoms of {PG} in the past year ('recovery'). {MEASUREMENTS} The measure of {PG} was based on the {NODS} {(NORC} {DSM-IV} Screen for Gambling Problems). Past-year participation in 11 different gambling activities was assessed, as well as the following composite indicators: any gambling, gambling versatility, the number of days and hours spent gambling and the proportion of household income spent on gambling. {FINDINGS} Ninety per cent of those in the recovery group participated in some form of gambling in the past year. {CONCLUSIONS} In this general population survey, nearly all the {PG} recoveries were achieved in the absence of abstinence. Controlled gambling appears to be a popular road to recovery in the community.

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