Do residential rehabilitation services help with gambling disorder?

Do residential rehabilitation services help with gambling disorder?

Our evaluation of a residential rehabilitation service for gambling disorder offers insights for commissioners

In 2022, GambleAware teamed up with Adferiad Recovery and Gordon Moody to launch a new service tailored to individuals dealing with gambling and other co-morbidities. The Residential Rehabilitation Service sought to address a gap in UK service provision for those whose needs were too complex for conventional gambling treatments. The development of this new service is supported by recent research by GambleAware showing the link between people experiencing mental health problems and gambling harms. [1]

The Residential Rehabilitation Service integrates medically supervised detoxification and acute mental health support from Adferiad Recovery with specialised gambling treatment from Gordon Moody. After the residential programme, the support continues through aftercare provided by both organisations, helping individuals’ transition back into their communities.

High demand and complex cases

The evaluation conducted by the Tavistock Institute, IFF Research and Magenta, showed that there is a substantial demand for this kind of support – with more than 100 people referred over the period from January 2022 to April 2023, without any particular efforts made to market the new service. Indeed, there was a fear that if they had advertised it more widely, the service would not have been able to cope with the demand. Notably, these individuals presented with complex co-occurring conditions, exceeding the typical complexity encountered by the treatment providers.

One stakeholder put it succinctly: “More people need gambling support than we realise, and very few seek help.” This highlights the importance of raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with seeking assistance for gambling-related issues and expanding provision of such service to reach all those who need it.

Positive short-term outcomes

The evaluation results have revealed encouraging short-term outcomes for clients, including a reduction in gambling and noticeable improvements in their mental health. These positive changes were not only observed through the analysis of quantitative data, but also reported by the individuals themselves. Some clients noted improved financial stability, better relationships with family and friends, an enhanced quality of life, and strategies to avoid relapse. There were also early indications that these favourable outcomes may persist beyond the completion of treatment.

“I’ve seen so much change in myself, like my sleeping’s better, my eating habits are better. My life’s really changed for the better and things are looking really well for me now.”  (Client)

The crucial role of the residential setting and aftercare

Key to recovery was the residential setting - by offering a break from the challenges and triggers of home life, it provided a safe and supportive environment for individuals to focus on their recovery. The intense support combining individual and group therapy, extra-curricular activities (such as social outings) and practical support from staff was seen as supporting the recovery. Also important were the connections formed among clients themselves, providing mutual support during and sometimes after treatment.

“I do feel like they’re a family. I do. And I’ll be sad to leave them. Because in a short period of time, you just become so close … You don’t realise how close you get with the facilitators as well.” (Client)

While the service has made a big difference, it also highlighted the need for continuing support in the community to prevent people from relapsing.

Recommendations for commissioners

The evaluation has shown that there is a need for the commissioning of similar services for people struggling with gambling and other co-morbidities that cannot easily be addressed by gambling treatment alone.

Otherwise, those responsible for commissioning gambling treatment programmes need to consider the following key points:

  • Residential services need to provide the flexibility to respond to different needs and preferences of potential clients and also to be able to accommodate non-binary or trans clients.
  • More needs to be also done to attract particular sub-groups of the population who may be less likely to come forward for gambling treatment or be put off by the lack of diversity within residential or other treatment services, including ethnic minorities, females and those from the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Careful thought needs to be given on how treatments involving several organisations can best be coordinated to ensure consistency of delivery.
  • More routine follow-up data collection with suitable tools is required to find out if improvements from such services can be sustained.


More information

Read the full report on the GambleAware website

Easy read full colour summary: Residential Rehabilitation Services Evaluation Report February 2024

[1] https://www.begambleaware.org/news/gambleaware-publishes-research-links-between-mental-health-and-gambling-harms

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