Addictions expert David Hodgins has long been struck by the fact that the majority of people who successfully overcome various vices—be it alcohol, cigarettes or gamblingdo so on their own, without the benefit of formal treatment programs. But it’s not easy. So, in the case of chronic gamblers, the University of Calgary professor has come up with a system that allows these individuals to acknowledge their problem in the privacy of their own home—and then helps them do something about it.
Hodgins says his program, which has drawn attention from international addictions experts, is aimed at reaching the 90 per cent of problem gamblers who decline to turn to residential treatment programs or groups like Gamblers Anonymous. His 40-page selfhelp manual contains a series of checklists
so participants can chart their behaviour and gauge the severity of their problem. They also receive tips on how to resist the gambling bug and are urged to find other leisure activities to fill the time they would usually spend indulging their habit.
Hodgins followed his first study group of 102 for two years, and found that 37 per cent had not gambled at all in the final six months of the study. He is now recruiting across the country for a follow-up group (those interested can call 1-877-437-3777). In addition to the manual, many in the new study will receive a series of telephone calls from counsellors, encouraging them to stick with the program. “People tend to make several attempts before they are ultimately successful,” says Hodgins. “We want to help them follow through.” BRIAN BERGMAN
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