Gambler Addiction Index (GAI)
The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) is a test specifically designed for gambler assessment. It consists of 166 items and takes 35 minutes to complete. The GAI contains seven measures (1. Truthfulness Scale, 2. Gambling Severity Scale, 3. DSM-IV Gambling Scale, 4. Suicide Scale, 5. Alcohol Scale, 6. Drug Scale, and 7. Stress Coping Abilities Scale) that evaluate client truthfulness, while responding to test items, gambling involvement, gambler classification, suicide risk, presence of substance (alcohol and other drugs) use and abuse, and stress handling abilities. The interaction of these seven attitude and behavior scales largely determines the gambler's outlook and subsequent behavior. The GAI has been standardized on thousands of gamblers; standardization studies involved people being treated for problem gambling and probationers, with gambling-related problems. GAI research is summarized in the document titled GAI: An Inventory of Scientific Findings, which is available on the Behavior Data Systems, Ltd. website at www.bdsltd.com, or the Professional Online Testing Solutions, Inc. website www.online-testing.com.
Problem gambling is clinically defined as an impulse control disorder, most often characterized by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or those around them, rather than by their gambling behavior itself. Problem gamblers have a strong impulse to gamble, despite harmful negative life consequences, or a desire to stop gambling. Severe cases, of problem gambling meeting certain criteria, are classified as pathological gambling in the DSM-IV. As with any problem behavior, problem gamblers should be matched to counseling/treatment programs based on the severity of gambling-related problems. The impact that problem gambling has on society is significant. Research links problem gambling to certain types of crime (such as forgery, theft and embezzlement to procure funds for gambling, or pay off gambling debts) and increased risk for substance abuse, suicide (ideation, attempts and completion), depression, and other mental health disorders. As with any addiction or problem behavior, problem gamblers should be matched to counseling/treatment programs, based on the severity of gambling-related problems. The Gambler Addiction Index (GAI) is an objective, evidence-based assessment, which allows evaluators to determine gambler problem severity, and facilitates placement into appropriate levels of treatment. GAI test users (counselors, assessors, and evaluators working with problem gamblers) find the GAI to be an accurate and useful assessment tool - one gambling assessment that replaces a battery of tests. Problem gambling treatment may involve counseling, step-based programs (i.e. Gamblers Anonymous), self-help, peer-support, or a combination of these.
Seven GAI Scales (measures)
1. Truthfulness Scale: Gamblers are notorious liars. They typically rationalize their lifestyle and, when asked about their gambling, manifest denial (problem minimization). The Truthfulness Scale measures how truthful the gambler was while completing the GAI.
2. Gambling Severity Scale: Measures gambler interest and involvement. Gambling involvement is measured on a continuum, from none to some, through social gambling, to problem gambling and, at the extreme, severe problem gambling. The GAI Gambling Severity Scale quantifies gambling involvement.
3. DSM-IV Gambling Scale: Incorporates Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) gambling criteria. The ten DSM-IV criteria were reworded and reformatted into the GAI DSM-IV Gambling Scale. Attained classification categories include: Social gambler, problem gambler, and pathological (severe) gambler.
4. Alcohol Scale: Measures alcohol (beer, wine or liquor) use and abuse. It measures the severity of alcohol abuse. Many pathological gamblers have drinking problems that warrant intervention or treatment. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) emphasizes alcohol problem severity should dictate treatment intensity (groups, outpatient treatment, hospitalization).
5. Drug Scale: Illicit drug use is becoming more prevalent in gamblers lives. Here, we are referring to marijuana, cocaine, crack, ice, speed, ecstasy, barbiturates, amphetamines, heroin, etc. When present, drug problems can become focal treatment issues. The GAI Drugs Scale measures problem severity.
6. Suicide Scale: Pathological gamblers experience wide mood swings that vary with winning, losing and, what Robert Custer M.D. termed, the "desperation phase." Pathological (addicted) gamblers have a higher incidence of suicide than most other clinical groups. The GAI Suicide Scale is evidence-based.
7. Stress Coping Abilities Scale: Stress management strategies and techniques are learned. The GAI Stress Coping Abilities Scale is, literally, a stress management scale. It determines how well the gambler manages stress. Problematic stress management skills may warrant consideration of stress management classes, whereas, severe scorers may need counseling or treatment.
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