Send to

Choose Destination
J Consult Clin Psychol. 2016 Oct;84(10):874-86. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000127. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

A randomized controlled trial of brief interventions for problem gambling in substance abuse treatment patients.

Author information

Calhoun Cardiology Center, University of Connecticut School of Medicine.



This study evaluated the efficacy of brief gambling treatments in patients attending substance abuse treatment clinics.


Substance abuse treatment patients with gambling problems (N = 217) were randomly assigned to a 10- to 15-min brief psychoeducation gambling intervention; a 10- to 15-min brief advice intervention addressing gambling norms, risk factors, and methods to prevent additional problems; or 4 50-min sessions of motivational enhancement therapy plus cognitive behavior therapy for reducing gambling (MET + CBT). Gambling and related problems were assessed at baseline and throughout 24 months.


In the sample as a whole, days and dollars wagered and gambling problems decreased markedly from baseline through Month 5; thereafter, reductions in dollars wagered and gambling problems continued to decrease modestly but significantly, and days gambled remained constant. Brief advice significantly reduced days gambled between baseline and Month 5 relative to brief psychoeducation. The MET + CBT condition engendered no benefit beyond brief advice in terms of days gambled but did lead to more precipitous reductions in dollars gambled and problems experienced in the initial 5 months, and greater clinically significant improvements in gambling in both the short and long term. MET + CBT also resulted in initial decreases in self-reported alcohol use and problems but did not differentially impact self-reported illicit drug use or submission of positive samples.


Gambling problems tend to dissipate over time regardless of the intervention applied, but offering MET + CBT was more efficacious in decreasing gambling than providing a brief single session intervention. (PsycINFO Database Record

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for American Psychological Association Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center