A UK National Health initiative to provide advise and treatment for problem gamblers bore fruit this week when the first National Problem Gambling Clinic opened in Soho, west London. The clinic will be trialled for 12 months but has already attracted a high level of interest, the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL) told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
Staff at the clinic include psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists, debt management experts from the Citizens Advice Bureau and other specialist therapists.
The clinic's lead consultant psychiatrist, Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, said: "We have developed a unique treatment package to address specific difficulties that are common to problem gamblers. Due to the nature of their addiction, gamblers' finances are often in bad shape so an important part of treatment is to tackle debt management and employment issues. We also address the needs of clients' partners and family members who have been affected by their gambling disorder and any coexisting mental health conditions such as depression."
Patients will be treated with motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy alongside help with debt management.
The British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007, commissioned by the UK Gambling Commission found that problem gamblers constitute around 0.6 percent of the adult population of the British Isles – roughly the same percentage as the previous major study into gambling eight years previously. Problem gambling was more prevalent among men than women, and tended to be among younger age groups, the report said.
The highest rates of addictive behaviour were among people who did spread betting, at 14.7 percent, used fixed odds betting terminals, at 11.2 percent, and betting exchanges, at 9.8 percent.
New forms of online gaming and betting were included in the survey for the first time in 2007. Overall, only 6 percent of the Brit population used the Internet to gamble in the year studied. Of this minority, problem gambling rates were 6 percent for online betting.
But by far the most popular type of gambling activity in Britain is the National Lottery Draw, with 57 percent of people taking part, although this was down from the 65 percent participation shown in a 1999 study.
Scratch cards were the second most popular, with 20 percent of people using them, followed by 17 percent who bet on horse races and 14 percent who played slot machines.
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