Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

NHS gambling rehab opens in Soho

National Lottery tickets
About 250,000 Britons are problem gamblers, a survey found

The first NHS clinic to treat gamblers through therapy and financial advice has been opened in Soho in the West End of London.

The National Problem Gambling Clinic will be tested for a year, and has sparked interest, the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust said.

Gamblers will undergo sessions with psychiatrists, psychologists and debt management experts among others.

Families will also be offered therapy to cope with the addiction's impact.

'Unique treatment'

According to the Gambling Commission more than 250,000 people in Britain last year were found to be problem gamblers and many were from the younger age groups.

The clinic's lead consultant psychiatrist Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones said patients will undergo a "unique treatment package" through motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioural therapy.

"Due to the nature of their addiction, gamblers' finances are often in bad shape so an important part of treatment is to tackle debt management and employment issues.

"We also address the needs of clients' partners and family members who have been affected by their gambling disorder and any co-existing mental health conditions such as depression."

The Gambling Commission's survey revealed that men more than women were likely to be addicted.

The most popular form of gambling activity was the National Lottery with 57% participating regularly, followed by scratch cards, horse racing and playing on slot machines.

Online gambling was also growing in popularity with 6% using websites to bet.

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