Review of Change your gambling, change your life


Reviews the book, Change Your Gambling, Change Your Life by Howard Shaffer et al. (2012). This book brings to our attention a very contemporary problem in our society: Disordered Gambling. Although gambling is related to mankind since its beginnings, Problem Gambling and Gambling Disorder or Pathologic Gambling is a mental disorder that has been increasing in prevalence and gaining recognition and concern. This book offers the opportunity of self-help treatment for individuals affected by this condition who are willing to attempt to recover on their own. It is a very didactical and important resource, especially because most patients with Pathologic Gambling do not seek treatment through conventional mental health services. For that, the book is realistic and opportune, and it offers an alternative approach for patients to help themselves. Instead of pushing the reader to formal treatment services, which in turn could be counterproductive, the author, Dr Howard Shaffer, proposes strategies for understanding the problem and further on behavior and cognitive modifications. The book is divided in 3 parts: "How to Begin; How to Change; and How to Maintain" the changes it proposes. Its structure is extremely clear and straightforward and one does not need to follow all the chapters in a linear direction. Individuals choose the significant chapters that fit their particular problem and read them at their will. Finally, a crucial subject addressed in the last session of the book that is often left unspoken is the occurrence of relapses. The author educates about risk factors, stressors, and coping strategies to avoid relapse; however, he warns that despite good compliance with treatment and rigid discipline, relapses eventually occur. This information, although it may sound initially harsh and pessimistic, is of considerable importance for this population, because it emphasizes the real course of the disorder and how to proceed in case of a relapse. Dr Shaffer empathizes with the patients and their feelings, and proves to have a more flexible and realistic mentality: if a slip happens along the path of recovery, it is a part of the course and one can accept that as natural. Educating patients about relapses may help them continue to be motivated to resume their treatment instead of giving up and having a full and persistent relapse with the belief that all their past efforts were in vain and a failure.

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