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Simple feedback could be effective therapy for addictive behaviors
Date:2/7/2011

As mental health care costs and problem gambling rates continue to rise, University of Missouri researchers are developing a personalized feedback tool that could serve as an effective and inexpensive way for people with addictive behavior-related problems to get the help they need.

Matthew Martens, associate professor of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology in the MU College of Education, and his team of researchers received a $172,500 grant from the Institute for Research on Gambling Disorders to expand a successful "feedback based intervention" program to study college student gambling. Martens and his team have been developing and testing this type of intervention for alcohol issues, and the new grant will build on that study.

Intensive therapy, such as counseling sessions or extensive rehabilitation, isn't always necessary, and in some cases may even be counterproductive, for many people who are experiencing problems associated with addictive behaviors like alcohol use and gambling, Martens said. If effective, the personalized feedback would give therapists an inexpensive tool to help people modify their behavior before it escalates.

In these interventions clients answer a series of targeted questions. After completion, the clients receive personalized responses designed to raise awareness about their current behaviors versus more desirable behaviors. For example, it is typical for heavy drinking college students to overestimate the amount of alcohol their peers drink. A client may think that drinking 20 drinks per week for a college student is normal, when actually, the nationwide average is much lower, Martens said.

With the rise of online gaming, more people are experiencing issues related to excessive gambling, such as missing appointments and classes or not meeting other responsibilities. However, most are not facing extreme issues, such as financial ruin, so intensive therapy, which can be very expensi
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Contact: Steven Adams
AdamsST@missouri.edu
573-882-8353
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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