Paul Mladnick, LADC, NCGC, LMFT, has worked in the counseling field for more than 25 years. His work has focused primarily on addiction, including alcohol and drug abuse as well as compulsive gambling. Paul is the supervisor for Hazelden’s family program in Center City, MN. He practices gambling counseling at Bridges and Pathways Counseling Service in Forest Lake and is a certified counselor through the International Gambling Counselor Certification Board.

Paul received his training in 1994 through the then Minnesota Council on Problem Gambling. He also serves as a clinical supervisor for the National Council on Problem Gambling and was a trainer for the Wisconsin Council on Problem Gambling for many years.

Paul provides assessment, treatment (including individual/family counseling) and referrals for clients with gambling addiction. He employs an approach that stresses cognitive behavioral therapy and uses motivational interviewing in his work with clients. Paul also encourages all clients to attend Gamblers Anonymous for additional support.

Paul believes the basis for a good recovery consists of three fundamentals: 1) total abstinence from gambling, 2) finding constructive ways of coping and replacing the void created by the abstinence, and 3) incorporating a spiritual element of some kind that’s a cornerstone of the Twelve Steps.

The concern that those in recovery from chemical and alcohol abuse may turn to gambling is something Paul is particularly sensitive to. “Five of the seven individuals in my first gambling group had been through chemical dependency,” says Paul. “I’ve seen people get clean and sober but then start gambling and transfer addictions. I believe gambling is very high risk for people in early recovery from chemical dependency.”

While Paul is concerned about the increased availability of gambling and the role that it may play in more people developing a gambling addiction, he is buoyed by the fact that the American Psychiatric Association’s latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-V) now recognizes problem gambling as an addiction. He’s also grateful that Minnesota is generally ahead of most states in allocating treatment dollars for problem gambling. “Most of the time when gamblers seek treatment, they’re out of money,” says Paul, “so it’s very helpful that state funds are available to support treatment.”