Gambling addiction treatment is one area which needs more focus as the regulated gambling market in Massachusetts continues to expand.
A study finds that while there has been an increase in the number of people suffering from pathological gambling addiction in the state, there is a strict requirement of more trained counselors to combat the growing menace of gambling addiction.
The study commissioned by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health contracted researchers to dig into the current state of infrastructure available to provide treatment to those facing compulsive gambling issues.
Researchers and addiction specialists from the Cambridge Health Alliance have been monitoring how the number of gambling addicts who need treatment has swelled while tracking the treatment options available.
Speaking to New England Public Radio, Sarah Nelson one of the addiction specialists said: “I think the question you have to ask — and that we don’t have a good answer to yet — is what that treatment demand is.”
While she agreed that there are no people on the waiting list for problem gambling treatment, which indicates that treatment is available and there is adequate supply, she raised an important question.
“Are there people with problems who simply aren’t seeking treatment? And how do we help at least make sure that they’re aware of all the resources that are available?” Nelson asked.
Her survey finds that of the total 137 health organizations licensed by the state Department of Public Health, only 27 of them had even one counselor certified in gambling addiction.
This means that there is a definite shortage of trained counselors to offer help to gambling addicts in the state. Nelson also finds in the survey that southeastern Massachusetts had the fewest number of counselors trained in problem gambling.
“Different types of treatment are going to work for different people,” she said. “So some people may want to have access to something like Gamblers Anonymous or self-help resources, whereas other people might want, you know, more formal treatment in an outpatient setting.”
The researchers and addiction specialists are not in favor of opening new gambling addiction treatment centers. They insist on having more trained counselors. The group has also suggested that those already treating drug and alcohol addiction can be trained to become certified gambling counselors.