Pathological or compulsive gambling has been long regarded to be a chronic and unremitting condition. A new study has now found that is a temporary or short-lived condition from which affected individuals can recover without any treatment.
'People used to think the same thing about alcohol. But now I think that we are starting to have a more nuanced picture of what compulsive gambling is - for some people it is something chronic and recurrent, for others it tends to remit with time,' said Dr. Wendy Slutske, University of Missouri, Columbia.
Previous studies on pathological gambling have been conducted on parents undergoing treatment for psychological disorders. Now, however, it is clearly evident that that all gamblers do not necessarily seek medical help. This could probably due to the fact that those who do not seek help are most likely to recover.
The interesting study has been conducted on nearly 200 individuals who had reported of gambling addiction during their lifetime. The study was targeted at documentation of the recovery rate, natural recovery and treatment-seeking tendency. The researchers established pre-defined criteria for recovery- one year without any sort of pathological gambling symptom.
At the end of the study, it was found that approximately 36-39% of the study participants recovered, eliminating the need of treatment. Surprisingly, as little as 7-12% of the individuals had sought a treatment or attended meetings (such as those conducted by Gamblers Anonymous) to recover. The result of this interesting study is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
In addition, most of them who remained symptom free remained so for a period of 5 years or even longer, reflecting a lower percentage than that for other mental helath disorders. 'It suggests that a lot of these individuals probably don't need treatment, but at the same time it might well be that people who do need treatment are not getting it, for personal reasons or because of external barriers,' concluded Slutske.