Behavioural Addictions Increasing

As people’s lifestyles change, reliance on computers and credit cards becomes the norm. Castle Craig’s “Problem Gambling and Gaming” programme enable us to address these new challenges.

Therapists must be aware of the changes that are happening so that treatment approaches can be adapted. How, for example, can a programme that was conceived on the idea of complete abstinence (for substance misuse), be used to treat eating disorders or over exercising, where complete abstinence is not a realistic goal?

A short while weeks ago, professor Mark Griffiths, one of the leading experts the field of behavioural addictions held a seminar at Castle Craig. Mark Griffiths is a Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University. He has been active in this field for over twenty years and has served on the Boards of Gamblers Anonymous as well as advising numerous big names in the gambling and gaming industry.

Professor Griffiths is also a government advisor and a prolific writer of books, papers and articles about all kinds of behaviours. A self confessed ‘workaholic’ himself, he began his talk by highlighting the psychology behind some addictions (notably gambling) and how providers, such as casino operators, entice people to participate.

Professor Griffiths explained how the criteria used for diagnosing behavioural addictions have changed over the past thirty years. The main diagnostic tools, such as the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), have also changed in this time and are starting to include a wider range of addictions, such as computer gaming.

A presentation was given on ways of regulating certain industries, especially the providers of gambling and gaming via the internet. Professor Griffiths also dealt with treatment methods and treatment goals (abstinence or control). Although not a clinician himself, he thinks that the most successful treatment approach was usually one that combined different techniques with emphasis on cognitive behavioural therapy, self help fellowships like Alcoholics Anonymous and mindfulness.

Most practitioners in the field, including Professor Griffiths, believe that behavioural addictions will keep increasing.

To read more about this subject, please visit our section on behavioural addictions.

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