Behavioural addictions-recognizing gambling and sex addiction in Ireland
Background: As society changes and younger generations grow, there will be a future need in the treatment of gambling, sex, gaming, technology and shopping addictions etc. Gambling Addiction (GA) and Sex Addiction (SA) are recognised as Behavioural Addictions across international literature, yet only GA is recognised in the DSM 5, and neither are recognised formally in Ireland’s “Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery” nor are any Behavioural Addictions. This research will highlight GA and SA are NOT recognised as Primary Addiction criteria in the majority of addiction treatment services. In 2011 approximately 25,000 to 32,000 people suffered from GA in Ireland. This number is growing and in 2019 GA is becoming more problematic, therefore our services need more training and funding for intensive options for people seeking treatment. This applies to SA and is more detrimental for Sex Addicts. Unsurprisingly, there are no statistics on prevalence of SA in Ireland however, SA being discussed in addiction treatment services bears more stigma and shame than other addictions, which is further perpetuated due to lack of training for staff, and negative attitudes from staff and Service Users.
Aim: My focus is that there are not enough funding or resources for staff in addiction services in Ireland to treat GA or SA, and there is a difference in attitudes towards those with GA and SA from Staff and Service Users which we need to challenge. My aim is to; Discover how competent staff feel working with GA and SA; Highlight what training is available for staff to treat GA and SA; Support staff in exploring attitudes are towards GA and SA; Recognise staff nationally share these competencies and attitudes towards GA and SA; Explore Service Users attitudes towards those in treatment for GA and SA
Research Design: This research will be conducted by surveying staff to measure and compare what the general competencies and attitudes are towards GA and SA. Following this, interviews will be used to divulge into these competencies and attitudes. Service Users will be invited to be interviewed about their attitudes towards GA and SA.
Methods: I will analyse 50 surveys to establish a broad understanding of the competencies and attitudes which exist in our treatment services. Then interviews will be based on those who responded with the highest level of competencies in treating GA and SA, and the most negative attitudes towards treating people with SA & GA.
Results: I will highlight the need for greater consideration and compassion when treating people with these addictions. I will put forward an argument for more funding and training for GA and SA in addiction treatment centres. I will highlight and challenge negative attitudes towards GA and SA at a staff and Service User level so services can work towards positively influencing them via training and open discussion, leading to more staff with compassion and educated attitudes towards GA and SA. Going forward, Service Users will be positively influenced by staff to accept those in treatment for SA or GA.