Journal of Gambling Studies

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 67–76 | Cite as

Compulsive gambling: Structured family intervention

  • Mary Heineman


Family intervention has been an effective procedure for getting alcoholics into treatment for more than twenty years. Now this technique is being used with compulsive gamblers. Because the gambling disorder is so easy to hide, the patient seems to be further into the illness by the time the family seeks help. Furthermore, because the gambling offers intermittent rewards, the denial in both the patient and family appears to be stronger than found with most alcoholics.

During the intervention it is important to tell the compulsive gambler why the help of a professional was sought; what changes have been observed by family members and friends as a result of his/her gambling; how family relationships have been affected; what is feared will happen if he/she doesn't get help; and what each family member hopes will happen once the gambler is in recovery.

Most concerned persons enter family interventions with the sole purpose of getting the gambler into treatment. However, since this is a family disease, ethically the primary goal of family intervention needs to be to getsomeone into treatment, if not the individual suffering with the disease then one or more of those concerned persons suffering from it.


Family Member Family Relationship Effective Procedure Family Intervention Sole Purpose 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Heineman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.South Oaks HospitalAmityville
  2. 2.Plainview

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