Gamblers Anonymous: A Critical Review of the Literature

About the Course:

This study surveys existing literature on Gamblers Anonymous (GA) and issues that help to contextualize our understanding of this mutual aid association. While GA has been the subject of investigation by social scientists, it is still understudied, with a notable shortage of research on issues facing women and ethnic minorities. A need exists for large-scale assessments of GA’s effectiveness, more detailed accounts of GA beliefs and practices, increased knowledge of the ways in which GA attendance interacts with both formal treatment and attendance at other mutual aid organizations, and a better understanding of the profiles of gamblers best (and least) suited to GA.

Publication Date:

October 2003, Issue 9


Peter Ferentzy, PhD; Wayne Skinner, MSW, RSW

About the Authors:

Peter Ferentzy, PhD, is a research fellow in the concurrent disorders program at Ontario’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. His first book, How Addiction Became a Disease, was provisionally accepted by the University of Toronto Press. He currently conducts research on mutual-aid solutions to compulsive gambling and co-occurring substance abuse problems.

Wayne Skinner, MSW, RSW is the clinical director of the concurrent disorders program and the problem gambling service of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada. He has over twenty-five years experience as a clinician, supervisor, researcher, consultant and educator. Wayne is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He also directs and teaches in the addiction studies certificate program in continuing education at the University of Toronto. He is presently co-investigator on several research studies involving problem gambling and is editing a clinical handbook on the treatment of co-occurring addiction and mental health problems.

Recommended For:

This course is recommended for health care professionals, especially addiction counselors, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers, and nurses who seek knowledge about Gambler’s Anonymous. It is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Describe the genesis and primary tenets of Gambler’s Anonymous (GA) and the effectiveness of the organization at helping gamblers obtain abstinence.

  2. Identify theories as to the nature of problem gambling, including the disease and obsessive-compulsive models, and discuss the abstinence principle.

  3. Explain GA’s compatibility with other interventions and describe the intersection of problem gambling with co-occurring substance addictions.

  4. Recognize gender-related differences among problem gamblers and discuss gender and ethnicity issues related to GA membership.

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