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Dr. Marc Potenza: Pioneer of Gambling Treatment’s New Frontier

For our 35th Annual Statewide Conference last month, we commenced the event with keynote speaker Dr. Marc Potenza. During his talk, he spoke of his research, which studies the similarities and differences between disordered substance use and problem gambling. This line of research served as a fitting introduction for our conference per its theme: “The New Frontier in Gambling Treatment.”

The diversity in professions of the people present at the event illustrates the state of current gambling disorder research. Today, disordered gamblers may benefit from a wide range of psychological, psychiatric, and holistic treatments. The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) proudly hosted these professionals as leaders in the field like Dr. Potenza spoke to their groundbreaking work. Their efforts continually produce new insights into problem gambling, in addition to more effective treatments that support those who need help with disordered sports betting in AC or any other form of problem gambling.

Dr. Potenza’s research, in particular, addresses the relatively recent acknowledgment by the medical field that the pathology of problem gambling closely resembles that of disordered substance use. Through his talk, “Similarities and Differences in the Neurobiologies of Gambling and Substance-Use Disorders,” he elucidated how disordered gambling changes the neurochemistry of the brain. By comparing and contrasting brain scans, neurotransmitter levels, and the subjects’ genetics, Dr. Potenza confirmed much of what we already intuited. Disordered behavior involving both gambling and substances appear so similar because the underlying biology possesses similar qualities.

Although many medical professionals knew that people struggling with substance use and gambling problems exhibited similar behavior patterns, the field officially recognized problem gambling as a disorder on par with disordered substance use only recently. Just four years have passed since the publication of the DSM-5, which marks the first time such a medical document classified gambling disorders in the same section as other addictive disorders. Previously, it had been classified as an impulse-control disorder.

As we prepare for next year’s conference, the CCGNJ will, as always, offer resources to help anyone that needs gambling problem help. For support, treatment, and hope, call our confidential hotline at 1-800-GAMBLER, available 24/7.