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Staying in the Moment with Dr. Alyssa N. Wilson

Last month, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) held our 35th Annual Statewide Conference. Each year, we invite professionals that work in fields related to gambling to gather for a day of sharing our experiences and learning of the latest advancements in gambling problem help. This year, our theme, “The New Frontier in Gambling Treatment,” focused on the great strides the medical community continues to make in their physiological understanding of gambling addiction.

At each conference, we invite leaders and innovators in the field to speak about their work. Dr. Alyssa N. Wilson, Ph.D., gave our plenary session presentation this year, called “Using Acceptance and Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Disordered Gambling.” In her talk, she focused on the practice of staying in the moment to help disordered gamblers cope with impulsive urges and ultimately recover.

Dr. Wilson serves as the director of the Applied Behavioral Analysis program at Saint Louis University. Her research largely focuses on the application of interdisciplinary behavioral therapies to treat substance abuse as well as gambling and emotional behavioral disorders. Dr. Wilson also created the Saint Louis University Gambling Addictions research laboratory. There, she oversees graduate students as they undertake projects related to translational and clinical research on gambling.

During the session, she described relaxation, awareness, and visualization techniques that therapists can teach gamblers to provide them with effective coping mechanisms. These methods allow disordered gamblers to become more aware of the moments they experience the urge to gamble or an aversion to confronting their problematic behaviors. In her presentation, Dr. Wilson referred to her own research studies, which showed that such practices had statistically significant benefits for those that applied them.

“The presentations this year included insights into both neurological and psychological advancements in the understanding and treatment of gambling addiction,” said Neva Pryor, Executive Director of the CCGNJ. “We’d like to thank every participant for helping to make this experience so enlightening and affirming.”

At the CCGNJ, we have dedicated ourselves to spreading awareness and providing treatment for gambling addiction. We encourage anyone seeking help to call our confidential, 24/7 hotline at 1-800-GAMBLER. To learn more about the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey or explore our additional resources, visit us at https://800gambler.org/.