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Gambling and its Nutritional Treatment

by Jurriaan Plesman, BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nutr

As a retired Probation and Parole Officer I sometimes wonder what is worse:- alcoholism or gambling addiction? I have had clients who sold the family house without letting their wives know. Others resorted to bank robbery to finance their debts or stole huge amounts of money from their employers. Like alcoholics, compulsive gamblers have to hit rock bottom, before they are ready to go for treatment. In fact, gambling and alcoholism are often found together. The question is where is a gambler’s rock-bottom. This is a matter of values and this is matter of motivation. Without motivation therapy is not possible. When he is threatened to lose one of his rock-bottom values, he may be ready to accept treatment. What is important to him to give up gambling?

Sometimes it may help a person to find out what values he has and what is really important in his life by studying:

In the meantime, partners and loved-ones of gamblers have to look after their own interests and I strongly suggest that they get support from a counselling organization. The gambling anonymous (GA) is good one to start, because you will meet people in a similar situation you are in.
The tragedy is that when a person is ready to accept treatment it is very difficult to get “effective” treatment for addictions. Most of the “experts” seem to be at a loss to understand the causes of gambling addiction or any other addiction for that matter. Therapy revolving around drugs and/or psychotherapy or religion has not been very successful.One theory is that it resulted from a kind of Pavlovian conditioning which I have explained elsewhere at:  The Gambling Pigeons.  As to why talk therapy may be ineffective please read: Psychotherapy Ineffective?

I have helped many gamblers addiction with a combination of psychotherapy and nutritional therapy, provided they are motivated.

When you test compulsive gamblers with the four hour medical Test for Hypoglycemia you’ll find that many, if not most, gamblers test positive for hypoglycemia.

A possible alternative paper-and-pencil test is called the Nutrition-Behavior Inventory Questionnaire (NBI) or  Hypoglycemia Questionnaire.

If you you score high, you are most likely to have a metabolic disorder, that should be further investigated by a Nutritional Doctor or a Clinical Nutritionist.

Hypoglycemia (or pre-diabetic insulin resistance) is a sugar handling disease that interferes with the absorption and metabolism of carbohydrates in food. Sugars in food are a major source for conversion to biological energy called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This biological energy is essential in the production of feel good neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and other feel good neurotransmitters. Hence a person with, let us say, Insulin resistance (leading to the hypoglycemic syndrome) will inevitably will be lacking energy and may become depressed. His energy levels are down, he may suffer from boredom. He could be looking for stimulation. Stress hormone are likely to bombard his system, leading to a low self-esteem and all sort of “psychological problems”.

The non-drug treatment for the underlying metabolic disorder is by dietary means, mainly the adoption of the Hypoglycemic Diet, preferably under the supervision of a Nutritional Doctor or a Clinical Nutritionist. Of course there many other metabolic disorders affecting personality, but in my experience hypoglycemia is a major one. I always prefer people to be able to help themselves and this can be done by studying some basic principles of nutritional biochemistry.

However, if problems persist it is wise to consult a Nutritional Doctor or a Clinical Nutritionist for proper assessment and treatment.

The best way is to start off is by going on a hypoglycemic diet. Nutritional treatment should be combined with psychotherapy. Again if you cannot afford a therapist it may be worthwhile studying the free psychotherapy course at our web site at:


2 Responses

  1. Elwood Aache says:

    I have had a problem with addiction to vlt’s for over fifteen years. My doctor said he can’t do anything for me. I have little to show for it so I’m at the end of my rope. It seems like there aren’t many options. Maybe an induced coma for a couple of months.

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