Central to the problem and treatment of pathologic gambling is helping the patient overcome irrational thoughts. Pathologic gamblers believe they have the ability to control random or chance events by relying on superstitious behavior or methods.
- Treatment for people with pathological gambling begins with the recognition of the problem. Since pathological gambling is often associated with denial, people with the illness often refuse to accept that they are ill or need treatment. Most people with pathological gambling enter treatment under pressure from others, rather than voluntarily accepting the need for treatment.
- Treatment options include individual and group psychotherapy, medications, and self-help support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Gamblers Anonymous is a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Abstinence principles that apply to other types of addiction, such as substance abuse and alcohol dependence, can also be helpful in the treatment of pathological gambling.
- A few studies have been done on medications for the treatment of pathological gambling. Early results suggest that antidepressants, opioid antagonists, and mood stabilizers may help treat the symptoms of pathological gambling.