Libro Il Fallimento piu riuscito della mia vita

Group Therapy for Gamblers and their Families: The Campoformido Experience.

In the last few years Italy has experienced a massive increase in problem gambling. It has become a widely practiced activity with serious economic and social implications. Even though gambling is not a modern practice, it is mostly the industrialised world which has seen its steady increase in the last few years. According to recent research more than 80% of the Italian population is interested in it. Statistical figures say that 1-3% of the adult population is addicted.

It was in order to find a therapeutic strategy that I started to work with gamblers in 1995. The aim was to help them to stop, with the support of their families, bearing in mind that it would require several years of personal effort on the part of the gambler before substantial results could be obtained.  
At the beginning there were few participants therefore it was impossible to form specific treatment groups. Participants, therefore, attended  the alcoholic treatment groups (CAT) I had been facilitating since 1980. When I realized these addicted gamblers were improving I formed the first therapeutic group for gamblers and their relatives in 1998.
The Borough of  Campoformido (Udine) supported our project by assigning us a room for our meetings and the use of a contact telephone number.
The programme has grown and we are now running 10 therapeutic groups where gamblers participate with their families. There are 180 participants altogether.
On November 29, 2006 the Municipal Government of Campoformido passed a Bill to stop the proliferation of gambling (also approved by all the Municipalities of Friuli Venezia Giulia). This was a first for Italy.

On May 25,  2000 an association of ex-gamblers and their families was legally recognized (based in Campoformido Udine Largo Municipio 7). The head office is in Campoformido Town Hall as the local Administrators believe that the statutory aims of the association are of high social interest. Its legal president is now Mr Adriano Valvasori. 

The main statutory aims are:

·        prevention and treatment of gambling and other addictions
·        development of gambling programmes - research, training, and information, in collaboration with other subjects and institutions
·        promotion of defence of the civil rights of gamblers or ex-gamblers and their families
·        re-instatement of gamblers or ex-gamblers in the employment world and society.
·        general protection and defence of gamblers and their families

Along with therapy groups we have been holding meetings and talks (conventions, training courses and seminars on gambling) which have been open to the general public.


                              Presentation and Conventions:

Year 2000

* Group therapy for gamblers and their families (Campoformido, 17 April 1998)
First national congress on “Video-poker and gambling” (Camoiformido, 6 May  2000)

*Convention and presentation of three theses on gambling Campoformido  30 September  2000

* First convention on “Self-help and group therapy for gamblers and their families: experiences and future prospects in Italy”, (Campoformido,  16 Dec 2000)

Year 2001

* Convention on “Bingo: gambling in Italian families” (Campoformido, 15 June  2001)

* Second national congress on “Self-help and group therapy for gamblers and their families: experiences and future prospects in Italy”, (Campoformido, 15 Dec  2001)

Year 2002

* Presentation of the book “Gambling with Lives – true life stories of extreme gamblers”, ed. Sperling Kupfer by Silvana Mazzocchi, Campoformido, 15 March  2002.

* Presentation of four gambling related theses Campoformido, 21 September  2002.

* Third national congress on “Self-help and group therapy for gamblers and their families: experiences and future prospects in Italy”, (Campoformido,14 Dec  2002)

Year 2003

* Convention on “Gambling and Debt”, participation of Priest Massimo Rastrelli (Campoformido,7 March 2003)

* Fourth national convention on “Self-help and group therapy for gamblers and their families: experiences and future prospects in Italy”, (Campoformido, 13 Dec  2003)

Year 2004

* Fifth national convention on “Self-help and group therapy for gamblers and their families: experiences and future prospects in Italy”, (Campoformido, 11 Dec  2004)


Year 2005

* Presentation of the book “Gambling my Life”, - ed. Baldini, Castoldi Dalai, by
Silvana Mazzocchi, Campoformido (Udine, Ajace Hall, 3 March  2005)

* Sixth national convention on “Self-help and group therapy for gamblers and their families: experiences and future prospects in Italy” (Campoformido, 10 Dec 2005)

Year 2006

* Convention on “Rationality and case study: gambling as total loss”, Presentation of a research paper on risks  and patterns associated with gambling (Campoformido, 15 May  2006)

* National convention on “Group therapy for addiction to gambling: before, during, and after a large number of therapeutic sessions. Evaluation from psychotherapists and reflections of ex-gamblers and their families (Campoformido, 15 October 2006)

Year 2007

* Second national convention on “Group therapy for addiction to gambling: before, during and after a large number of therapeutic sessions. Evaluation of psychotherapists and reflections of ex-gamblers and their families. (Campoformido, 14 October  2007)

Year 2008

*Third national convention on “Group therapy for addiction to gambling: before, during and after a large number of therapeutic sessions. Evaluations of psychotherapists and reflections of ex-gamblers and their families. (Campoformido, 12 October  2008)


 Other relevant participations:

28.02.1997  Campoformido      To recover from gambling with group therapy:                                                                                                  presentation of group therapy for gamblers and their families.

08.04.2000 Forte dei Marmi    Gambling workshop

05.05.2000 Balerna (Switzerland)     Gambling - between risk and enjoyment.

09.06.2000 Gorizia                  Gambling and video-poker

24.01.2001 Trieste                  Gambling - between enjoyment and pathology

20.02.2001 Pordenone            Gambling and the taste for cheating

16.03.2001 Varese                   Is life a game?

19.04.2001 Campoformido (Udine)   Meeting with National Heath Service (ASL4)

22.04.2001 Radio-one (RAI)    The Night of Mysteries (all night live broadcast)

25.08.2001 Radio-one (RAI)   The Night of Mysteries (all night live broadcast)             
05.09.2001 Reggio Emilia       Gambling games grow.…addiction or amusement,
                                                   pathology or loneliness?
10.11.2001 Udine                             New addictions: Training Course of Welcoming First

23.11.2001 Monfalcone                    Second regional conference on addiction

7.02.2002   Radio-one (RAI)              The Night of Mysteries (all night live  

18.02.2002 Udine                             Gambling – Meeting at the University Chapel

23.02.2002 Genova                 Gambling and debt

15.03.2002 Udine                    Presentation of the book ”Gambling Lives” (Vite     

16.03.2002 Trieste                  Presentation of the book “Gambling Lives” (Vite

23.03.2002 Gorizia                  The role of the General Practitioner in legal                  

05.04.2002           Lauzacco (Udine)  Education and prevention of addictions

23.04.2002 Bari             Gambling and Debt

10.06.2002           Saronno (Varese)            Group therapy in addiction to
                                                            gambling: the Campoformido experience                                    

14.06.2002 Zugliano     Gambling: the thrill of cheating (at Centro Balducci)

09.07.2002           Milano           3rd SICAD-Gambling-Workshop

15.11.2002           Ravenna      First National Convention - Erit – New scenarios in
                                               addictions and challenges to change

22.11.2002           Trieste         Course on Pathological Gambling

26.11.2002 Roma          National Conference “Bingo, what should be done?”,
(Organized by Cittadinanza attiva (Active citizens) and the ‘Rights of Sick People’)

29.11.2002 Conegliano (Treviso)       New Addictions

03.02.2002 Gorizia                  Gambling and risky behaviour (meeting with
                                                 secondary school students)

24.02.2003           Bari       From gambling for life and gambling risking life –
                                            University of Bari and Foggia

11.04.2003           Piacenza               Integrated treatment for gamblers in the
                                                            National Health Service

21.05.2003           Pozzuolo (Udine)   Gambling and Risky Behaviours –
Meeting with Secondary School students (Scuola Media  G.Marconi di Pozzuolo (UD)

29.05.2003 Ragusa                 Training Course on Pathological Gambling
National Health Service (USL 7 – Ser.T di Ragusa)

15.09.2003           Perugia                 New addictions. Clinical interventions and prevention in the public and private sector. Efficiency and efficacy of psychological approaches.

10.09.2003 Prague                            XXXIII Annual Congress of the EABCT
“Mood states and personality traits in
pathological gamblers and their family members”

03.11.2003 Udine                             Annual Project on “Gambling and extreme behaviours” with secondary school students (Istituto Statale d’Arte G. Sello di
10.11.2003           Firenze                 “Public intervention for drug addiction (Ser.T) and pathological gambling”- Health Service, Florence, Addiction Service.

19.11.2003 Pordenone            “Therapy Groups of new addictions: gamblers”
Groups as a therapeutic intervention for addictions and psychiatry: theory and clinical practice”.

09.02.2004 (Sassari)      “Training course – gambling( first week)”. Ser.T Olbia-Tempio. Regione Sardegna

09.04.2004           Gorizia                  Discussion and debate on “Christmas Revenge” organized by the Gorizia Association of Doctors
10.05.2004           Padova                  “From Playing to Gambling” – Great Hall – Psychology Department - Lazarus- Wellbeing at no risk-Media Campus-University of Padua

17.05.2004 Ferrara                 Course on Pathological Addiction to Gambling, Health Department(Addication) (Ser.T) of Ferrara

26.05.2004 Udine                             “Gambling and extreme behaviours” – Meeting with secondary school students of - Istituto Statale d’Arte G. Sello di Udine

06.06.2004           Salerno                 Group Therapy for addiction to gambling, Training Course - Gruppo Logos Onlus

21.06.2004           Pulfero (Udine)               Meeting on “Gambling and extreme behaviours” with summer school students - Caritas Udine – Montefosca – Canonica

04.10.2004 Olbia (Sassari)                Training Course -  Gambling (second week)
Ser.T. Olbia-Tempio.Regione Sardegna

15.11.2004           Bari                      “Psychology and …… Meanings, use and abuse” Convention of the Psychologist Association of Puglia
19.11.2004           Padova        “Group and Pathological Dependencies: New Techniques for new patients”. Convention organized by the Association for Psychological Addictions.

07.02.2005 Milano Non-substance Addiction. Training for health workers – Health Service – Department on Addiction of the Province of Milan

04.04.2005 Nocera Inf.            Group Therapy on Addiction to Gambling – day course.

12.04. 2005  Campoformido    Olbia meets Campoformido (subject - gambling) Olbia                Training Course - Gambling – Addiction Health Service (Sert) Olbia-Tempio.Regione Sardegna (third week)

09.05.2005           Udine              Conference at the Lions Club of Udine on Gambling

13.05.2005           Pistoia         Convention “Gambling: gravity of the phenomena, characteristics and possible treatments”

03.06.2005 Ronchi dei Leg.     Evening on Pathologic Gambling – Cultural Centre -Calicanto 2000

03.10.2005   Udine        “Mi gioco la vita”- ed. Baldini Castoldi Dalai – Presentation of the book - Ajace Hall – with Silvana Mazzocchi, Rolando De luca, Susanna Vetri, Romano Vecchie, Andrea Zuliani

25.11.2005 Salerno                 Seminar -  ”Gambling, between illusion and reality”

31.01.2006 Gemona                Agita meets Rotary of Cividale del Friuli and
20.02.2006 Udine                    Meeting with teachers in training - SISS al
“Laboratory - teaching  probability”
University of Udine

06.03.2006   Padova                Psychology Department of the University of Padua – Lazarus Project – Re-playing one’s life – Therapeutic groups for gamblers and their family members: the Campoformido experience.

20.03.2006           Udine                   Meeting school students of the Liceo Scientifico
“Marinelli” in Udine

26.05.06     Pavia di Udine      Legal addictions without substances.

30.10.06     Milano                  Therapeutic factors in Groups (evening at the Institute of Group Psychology)

02.12.06     Padova                  Group Therapy for Addiction to Gambling

16.12.06     Reggio Emilia       VII National Convention “Self-help and group therapy for gamblers and their family members”

18.02.2007  Udine                   Gambling and extreme behaviours, Meeting with Secondary School students, B. Stringher

14.03.2007 Nova Gorica (Slovenia)    Group Therapy for ex-gamblers and their family members: the Campoformido experience.
18.03.2007           Milano                  Group Therapy and addiction to gambling. From basic skills to starting therapy groups.
07.07.2007 Platischis    Agita meets Caritas voluntary workers on the subject of “Addiction to gambling”.
09.08.2007 Siena                    Campoformido meets the Therapeutic Community incontra la Comunità Terapeutica ORTHOS of Siena

30.10.2007           Arezzo                   Group Therapy for Addiction to Gambling

05.11.2007           Civitanova Marche  Group Therapy for Addiction to Gambling and their Families

04.12.2007 Udine                             Meeting with training teachers of the University of Udine

15.12.2007           Reggio Emilia       Self-help and Group Therapy for Addiction to Gambling and their Families


28.03.2008  Torino                           Creation of a Data bank on gamblers,
Org.Gruppo Abele e Alea (Dario Angelini gave a report on Campoformido)

04.04.2008           Trieste                  Is gambling an addiction? Talk by Agita at Casa Circondariale of Trieste

18.04.2008 Trasaghis (Udine)      Agita meets secondary school students

17.05.2008   Udine                           Meeting with secondary school students: course on education to legacy?????, Great Hall,  Scuola Valessi (Udine)

16.06.2008           Campoformido      Relating and communicating with people in difficulty

23.06.2008 Udine             Out-door Project, the observation and treatment team’s role  with prisoners with substance addictions

30.08.2008  Montresta            Session on Gambling, L’isola del Teatro-Circuito,teatro,società      (Sardegna)             

04.10.2008  Palermo               Pathologic gambling: between passion and addiction

30.09.2008   Gorizia                Meeting the “Lions Host” of Gorizia on Gambling
18.11.2008   Slovenia              Meeting with the Nova Gorica (Slovenia) NHS on Pathologic Gambling

29 .11. 2008    Nuoro                        A two day seminar on “Group Therapy for gamblers and their family members”, Nuoro and Sassari (Sardegna)

13.12.2008   Varese                 Self-help and therapy for gamblers and their families: experiences and future prospects in Italy.




























          We have also been invited to:

give informative talks on regional and national radio and television, to alert the public to the problem (10 times on RAI TV channels 1-2-3, and other private radio and television programmes).


Epistemological and clinical research

The epistemological research has gained valuable insight/knowledge from the studies from various fields, such as: psychology, psycopathology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, sociology and literature.

Other writings:
Proceedings of the first national convention in Italy on “Self-help and Therapy for Gamblers: experiences and future prospectives” Agita, Campoformido, 2001

De Luca, R., Il gioco come autodistruzione”, Introduction to the book by Silvana Mazzocchi, "Vite d’azzardo.Storie vere di giocatori estremi”, Sperling & Kupfer, 2002 (a collection of personal stories from participants in the Campoformido groups)

De Luca, R., "Il gioco d’azzardo tra illusioni sociali e realtà terapeutica.L’esperienza di Campoformido (Ud)”, Introduction to the book by Silvana Mazzocchi "Mi gioco la vita", Saggi Baldini Castoldi Dalai Editore, 2005, second edition 2008 (a collection of personal stories from the participants in the Campoformido groups).

De Luca, R.; Petri ,S., Sos azzardo. Familiari e giocatori chiedono aiuto- Ed. Caritas, Udine, 2007. 

De Luca, R., "I gruppi per giocatori d’azzardo e le loro famiglie”,  in Croce, M.; Zerbetto,R., Il gioco & l’azzardo”, ed. Franco Angeli, Milano, 2001

De Luca,R., "I gruppi terapeutici per giocatori d’azzardo e familiari:l’esperienza di Campoformido”, in Capitanucci, D., Marino,V., La vita in gioco?, ed. Franco Angeli, Milano 2002.

De Luca,R., "I gruppi terapeutici per giocatori d’azzardo e loro famigliari:il percorso terapeutico a lungo termninea Campoformido”, in Campione G. e Nettuno A. Il gruppo nelle dipendenze patologiche , ed. Franco Angeli, Milano, 2007.

Savron,G., et al, "Terapia di gruppo con Giocatori d’Azzardo patologici:risultati a 6,12 e 18 mesi di trattamento", in Rivista di psichiatria,  ed. Il Pensiero Scientifico, 2007.

Savron, G. et al, "Stati dell’umore e tratti di personalità in un campione di Giocatori d’Azzardo Patologici e dei loro familiari”, in Rivista di psichiatria, ed. Il Pensiero Scientifico, 2003.

Savron, G. et al, "Psicopatologia e gioco d’azzardo: uno studio preliminare su un campione di giocatori d’azzardo patologici”, in Rivista di Psichiatria, n.1/2001, ed. Il pensiero Scientifico

De Luca R., "Terapia di gruppo  per giocatori d’azzardo e loro famigliari”, in Atti del convegno “Il gioco e il danno Casinò, SuperEnalotto, Lotterie: risorse Pubbliche e danno sociale-Mestre, 1999”, Mag, Venezia, Eurooffset ed.,Venezia, 2000.

De Luca,R., "I gruppi terapeutici per giocatori d’azzardo e loro familiari”, in Rivista Itaca: Il gioco d’azzardo come dipendenza, Anno 5-Numero 15/2001, ed. Cedis.

De Luca, R., "In terapia per rinascere una seconda volta”, in "Speciale Sanità", Il sole 24 ore, 28 agosto-3 settembre 2007, pp. 17-18.

De Luca, R., "I gruppi terapeutici per giocatori d’azzardo e loro familiari:l’esperienza di Campoformido”, in Atti, Servizio Sanitario Regionale Emilia-Romagna Dipendenze nuovi scenari e sfide al cambiamento, Vol. 2-pp. 213-227, ed. Centro Stampa dell’Azienda USL, Ravenna, 2005.

De Luca,R., "I gruppi di terapia a Campoformido”, in Luoghi e volti, Diocesi di Andria-Caritas Diocesana, ed.Guglielmi, Andria, 2006.

De Luca, R., "I gruppi di terapia per giocatori d’azzardo a Campoformido”, in  Il lavoro terapeutico nella doppia diagnosi:orientamenti per una psichiatria delle tossicodipendenze, ed. Ch’ange-I quaderni di  Salute & Prevenzione, third Vol, S & P, Foggia, 2005.

De Luca, R., "Gioco d’azzardo patologico”, in Rivista: Argomenti di Psichiatria e scienze sociali, n.35- ottobre 2001.

De Luca, R., "La terapia di gruppo per i giocatori d’azzardo ed i loro familiari”, in Rivista: Altrove-Giochi, ed. Cooperativa Giornalisti, Imola, n. 3, 2004

De Luca,R., “Quando il gioco ti prende la vita”, in Messaggero di S.Antonio, september - 2004, ed. Prov.Pad.F.M.C

De Luca,R., "Il gioco d’azzardo tra patologia e terapia”, (1° part).  in Rivista: Elisir, il punto di vista dei medici e ricercatori 6/2004. ed. Galeati, Imola, 2004.

De Luca, R., "Il gioco d’azzardo tra patologia e terapia” (2° part), in Rivista: Elisir,il punto di vista dei medici e ricercatori, 1/2005.ed. Galeati, Imola, 2005.

De Luca, R., "I gruppi di terapia per giocatori d’azzardo e familiari  a Campoformido”, in Rivista: Linea d’incontro, private experiences and contribution to critical reflexions and making out of healthy and unhealthy behaviours, 12-2005, Pistoia.


The Campoformido Centre has been cited in the following works:

Siracusano, A. et al,  Manuale di Psichiatria, ed.Il Pensiero Scientifico, 2007
Lavanco, G., Psicologia del gioco d’azzardo  , rd. McGraw-Hill, Milano 2001
Eurispes, Istituto di Studi politici Economici e Sociali, “Giochi scommesse e lotterie: italiani    d’azzardo”Eurispes, Roma, 2000
Caritas Italia-Fondazione Zancan,Vuoti a perdere, ed. Feltrinelli,Milano,2005
Di Piazza, P., Nel cuore dell’umanità-storia di un percorso, Centro Calducci, Udine, 2006

The Centre of Campoformido has been a centre for thesis study for
degrees in Psychology and Medicine.  Some of these authors appear here:
 Austoni Giovanni, Biffi Sara, Galetto Clara , Melchiorre Sara, Perinelli Sofia, Pitti Paolo, Pittini Erika,Tiziana  Cantarutti.

Proceeding of “Lauree d’azzardo”- Four theses on gambling, Agita, Campoformido, 2002

We also have;

·        an interactive web page ( where visitors can ask  questions and seek  information. Anwers will be given by return  mail.
·        a free call centre which enables families from all over the country to maintain contact with families in therapy in Campoformido.
·        a two-year project (2004-2005) “Gambling and risky behaviour” with the ’Istituto Statale d’Arte G.Sello students, in Udine.
·        celebrate with Agita each year on April 25th at  Zompicchia (Codroipo).

In 1998 a study group on gambling and risky behaviours was formed. In????  Ronaldo de Luca, Manina Ponton (psychologist and psychotherapist), Susanna Petri (psychologist), an Marilena Zoccolan (sociologist).

Some notes on therapy


We usually see participants and their family members for a few sessions to assess whether the subject is suitable for therapy. We diagnose according to the DMS-IV criteria on “pathologic gambling”. 

During these sessions we collect preliminary information in order to create the prerequisites for participation in the group. Therapeutic group work requires members to work hard and strictly adhere to the rules of therapy sessions with the goal of establishing a new life-style. All members are informed about these requirements during individual sessions.



Therapy group formation must follow basic principles regarding composition of members, space and timing.


The idea of having all family members participate in group therapy stems from the consideration that they all bear the disadvantages of the gambler’s losses: related economic, social and interpersonal problems.
The aim of the therapy is to help not only the symptom bearers to change, but also all their closest relations who need to realise that the problem is not just  the gambler’s, but impacts the whole family system. The families will then attend the group with or without the participation of their “gambler”. In the group work these families will realize what dysfunctional interpersonal behaviours need to change and will, hopefully, help their own needy member to enter the group, if they have not already done so.
The significant results obtained over twenty years of group therapy with alcoholic and smoker addicts have led us to consider using the same approach with gamblers and their families.
Each group starts with a set task, in our case - helping gamblers to stop gambling.  The first sessions focus on this issue. However, over time other related problems are uncovered that have been hidden by the gambling. New emotions, memories, and images can and should re-model the group to gradually develop a new identity. This can best be seen after two year’s work, a time when the first `should I gamble or not` phase is no longer an issue. Then comes anxiety, anger and other emotions which the gambler begins to feel as they start leading a life without escaping from their real self.
The role of the psychotherapist is to address these emotions at the right time and to consider how and when to end therapy. He/she is to evaluate when the subject is ready to leave the group by observing the quality of his or her defences.
Our groups meet weekly and last for as long as the participants need them. We believe that ‘readiness to leave’ is subjective, as each person responds differently.

Statistical data of participants as of  30 September 2008 related to education, social background, age, sex, work, drinking and smoking habits, intake of other drugs, frequency of attendance, percentage of abandonment and final results.


*  Marital / civil status
71 %  are married or live together;  29 % are single.

*  Education

9 %  attended elementary school; 42 % secondary school ; 46%  had ‘A’ levels  and   3% have a degree.
         Place of origin
88 %  from Friuli-Venezia Giulia; 12% from other regions.

*  Gambling habits

27%  casinos; 18% new slots (video poker), 18% lottery, 12% super-lottery; 8%  scratch and win; 6% horse racing; 3% gambling house; 2% played pools; 2%  speculated on stock market and 1% Bingo. The remaining 3% various games (totogol, bettings, etc).
Usually gamblers play one type of game - 38%, whereas 45% play 2 or 3 different games, and 12% 4 or 5;  5 % say they play more than 5.
Our classification of games is based on R. Caillois’s four semantic fields: fortune, competition, simulacrum and vertigo. These are ‘Alea’ games (fortune, or chance which has “neither mind nor soul”), as Callois says.

5 % under 30, 28% 30 to 40; 28% 40 to 50; 26% 50 to 60; 13% over 60.
As for family members 41% are over 50, on average middle-aged, from which we can infer that gamblers and families look for help too late.



86% males, 14% females. Considering that Campoformido figures differ from national figures (25% females and 75% males), and considering we have had an increase of women in therapy in the last three years, we can assume our figure may increase to 25% soon. It is also interesting to note that women are, on average, older than men (aged: 53.4 women, 46.5 men) and they normally seek help for themselves and are not sent to the Centre by the family.

*  Profession / work

55% employees, 19% self employed, 17% pensioners, 3% housewives. It is of interest to note that our group participants, whether gamblers or family members, are all employed.


88 % attend with family members (76 %partner, 10 %siblings, 4 %parents, 6 % children and 3% friends) 12 % come alone.
43% of family members attend without the gambler, which means families feel the necessity to participate as well as the gambler does, or even more..

Addiction to alcohol, tobacco and psychotropic substances
It has been proved that many gamblers are heavy smokers (65 %); drink a lot (three times a week at least) 15%, and take one or more psychotropic substances 3%.
However, it is interesting to note that during group therapy they tend to stop tobacco dependence (30%) which is a sign that they have adopted a new life style geared towards wellbeing. Figures confirm that smokers in groups decreased from 90% to 65 %.

Relapses during therapy are predictable, but they can be easily overcome without any serious consequence if the rule of abstinence was strictly followed up to the critical moment. Going back to occasional gambling in fact stirs, in the gambler, sensations different from the original thrill experienced, leaving him/her with guilt and feelings of being a failure. In fact relapses are an expected route which helps them to eradicate omnipotent feelings and to promote awareness of their weaknesses. Whereas continuing to play during therapy keeps the gambler rooted to a pathologic drive of dependence, even a simple game such as playing the lottery is harmful.  



50 % Gamblers admitted having some relapses. Of these:
26 %  gambled in 2008 for the last time. 39 %  in 2007; 16 % in 2006 ; 5 % respectively in 2005  and in 20043 %  and in the years   2003- 2002- 2001
Among those who declared having gambled in 2008 for the last time: 40% admitted one relapse, 30% one or three, 30% more than three. Of those who had their last relapse in 2007: 27% only one relapse, 33% from two to three, 40% more than three.
Of those who relapsed in 2006: 17% only one time, 50% from two to three, 33% more than three.


*  Percentage of abandonment / Percentuale d’abbandono

In the years 2007/2008   6%. In our experience, the majority of those who leave the group will soon surrender to the symptom again.
However, it must be pointed out that even though there is a decrease in abandonments, generally speaking, people who do leave, do so in mental anguish. The ways in which participants leave the group has totally changed from the past. They used to just ‘disappear’, whereas nowadays they discuss their reasons for leaving. It is also important to note that participants attend regularly all through the year and that any absence is explained either before, in the group, or after (usually by telephone).

Therapeutic results
90% of group participants stopped gambling, 10%, continue gambling even though in therapy.
84% participants end therapy naturally, be they family members, gamblers or ex-gamblers.


Needless to say the above figures simply show a tendency and cannot be considered permanent. However, we can firmly maintain that group therapy is one of the best methods we have to deal with addiction to gambling, a problem which has been constantly growing in our society.


Campoformido, October 2008