Department of Human Services

NJ Human Services Awards Contracts to Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Treatment Providers to Serve Individuals with Gambling Disorders

February 9, 2023

(TRENTON)Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman today announced the Department has awarded contracts to provide treatment and case management for individuals with a gambling disorder, including those who may also have a substance use disorder and/or mental illness.

“Gambling disorders, substance use disorders and mental illness can often be coexisting and compounding challenges, and that is why it is important to treat these conditions simultaneously. In order to do this, we must increase the availability of mental health and substance use disorder providers who have expertise in identifying and treating gambling disorders. These contracts work to do just that,” Commissioner Adelman said.

Under the $600,000 program, licensed substance use disorder and mental health treatment providers will establish gambling disorder services. Each provider will use $120,000 to hire, at minimum, one gambling disorder clinician who will provide specific treatment services for individuals with a gambling disorder. Services include screening, assessment, education, and treatment.

In addition to treatment services, the gambling disorder clinicians will work with individuals to assist with issues that often occur concurrently with gambling disorders such as financial distress, estranged relationships, legal issues, and a need for social services.

Services can be added at the following levels of care: standard traditional outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial care and residential services. These services will be provided in addition to substance use disorder and mental health treatment services.

“Incorporating gambling counseling within the substance use disorder and mental health treatment space will reduce the devastating effects caused by gambling disorders by making these services easily accessible for those in need throughout the state,” said Deputy Commissioner of Health Services Lisa Asare. “Through treatment and recovery activities, this initiative will work to support long lasting recovery from gambling disorder.”

“Research shows that gambling disorder is a condition that can have a negative impact on the affected individual as well as their loved ones. That is why it is important to develop the capacity to administer treatments that effectively address this disorder,” said Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who directs Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services that will guide this program. “Through therapeutic approaches that can bring about positive outcomes, we can help change and improve the lives of those affected.” 

The contracts were awarded to Care Plus NJ, Inc., Maryville Inc., New Bridge Services, Inc., The SAFE Foundation, and Trinitas Regional Medical Center. Services are expected to begin this month.  

Awarded contracts were selected regionally and based on need in order to offer statewide gambling disorder services.

Clinicians will undergo mandatory clinical training and will be provided with assistance needed to implement gambling-related services, which will be facilitated by Rutgers University staff.

Evidence-based practices such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which works to address self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that lead to gambling disorder and motivational interviewing, which is a style of interviewing that promotes acceptance of the individual in need, will be used in the treatment setting.

Providers will ensure that diversity, equity, inclusion, and cultural and linguistic competence are a part of the services offered.

According to research, adults with gambling disorder are three times more likely to be depressed, eight times more likely to have bipolar disorder, and three times more likely to experience an anxiety disorder.

Gambling disorder can also adversely impact or result in the complete loss of family relationships, employment, and educational pursuits. Gambling disorder is also associated with high utilization of medical services.

 “We, as always, are committed to strengthening and saving lives by reaching all those in need,” Commissioner Adelman said. “I continue to urge anyone needing substance use help to call 1-844-ReachNJ. I also urge those seeking help with problem gambling, or those concerned with a loved one’s problem gambling, to call 1-800-Gambler. Treatment works and recovery is attainable. Please don’t hesitate to call.”