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Ministry of Health

Pathological addictions


Pathological addictions because of substances, such as alcohol and drugs, and behavioural addictions, such as gambling, are characterized by the repeated use of psychoactive drugs or by the uncontrolled repetition of certain behaviours.
According to the World Health Organization the drug addictions (psychotropic drugs) affect the central nervous system causing states of physical and / or psychic dependence, creating effects of tolerance (need to increase the doses) and sometimes the behaviour of taking more classic psychoactive drugs.
The gambling disorder Gambling disorder or ludopathy represents a behavioural addiction which causes mental distress and / or significant clinical disorders, in addition, it constitutes a more and more relevant public health problem with a high impact on daily life.


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual about Mental Disorders defines alcoholism as a chronic, relapsing and potentially life-threatening disease. This disorder is characterized by the inability to refrain from consuming alcohol.
All you need to know about alcoholism
The Italian Ministry of Health has give wide space to a section aboutalcoholism and it allows to know causes, symptoms and signs, complications, diagnosis, therapy and prevention.

Drug addiction

The World Health Organization defines drug addiction (Ecstasy, Heroin, Ketamine, Popper, Psychedelics or hallucinogens, Smart drugs, Speed) a "chronic and relapsing disease that induces the individual to take substances at increasing or constant doses in order to have temporary subjective beneficial effects whose persistence is inextricably linked to the continuous intake of the substance".
Diagnosis and symptoms
Substance addiction involves the persistence of at least 3 of the following elements:
• intense desire to experience the effects of a psychoactive substance again.
• presence of emotional or physical symptoms that occur when the subject cannot take the substance
• inability to reduce the use of the substance and loss to control it
Types of addictions and risks of consumption
The Ministry of Health dedicates an in-depth section to narcotic substances and it is possible to know the type of addictions and the risks of consumption.


The ambling disorder is a persistent, or recurring problematic behaviour characterized by a compulsive and uncontrolled desire to bet large sums of money. Since 2013 it is classified as a typical behavioural addiction that causes mental distress and / or significant clinical disorders which are similar to those caused by the use of specific substances.
The Ministry of Health dedicates an in-depth section on gambling disorder and it is possible to know: Causes, Symptoms and Signs, Complications, Diagnosis, Therapy and Prevention.

Ask for help

If you think you may be subjected to a substance addiction or you are unable to stop gambling or if you suspect that a person you know is subjected to an addiction, do not hesitate to ask for help and do it so as soon as possible.
The toll-free telephone number of the Smoke, Alcohol and Drugs Observatory of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità against addictions is a national service, it is anonymous and free and it is active from Monday to Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 16:00 p.m.
Toll-free telephone number for alcoholism (TVAl) 800,632,000
Toll-free telephone number for Drugs addiction (TVD) 800.186.070
Toll-free telephone number for Gambling (TVNGA) 800.558.822

Provided by the NHS

The National Health Service (SSN) guarantees health services o people who have addiction problems. The latest decree of the President of the Council of Ministers approved in 2017, which updated the “Lea” (essential levels of care), expands the list of pathological addictions, including gambling.
The decree includes health and social care (including semi-residential and residential assistance) for people with pathological addictionsArt. 28 and Art. 35).)

Therapeutic treatment

The treatment of addictions because of the use of drugs and the related behaviours can be carried out, according to some specific needs, by SERDs (Services for Pathological Addictions), by semi-residential structures (Day care Centers) and by residential structures (Therapeutic Communities).
The main access to the therapeutic-assistance path is the treatment provided at the SERDs -Public services for pathological addictions of the National Health Service - established at the Local Health Authorities (formerly known as SERT), where prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation services are provided.
The access to SERDs is direct, no prescription from the family doctor is required, it is free of charge, no ticket payment is required and anonymity is always guaranteed. It is possible to access a SERD located in a different province respect to the province of residence, only if authorized by the USL to which it belongs.
Although the organization of SERDs varies from Region to Region, by virtue of the autonomy they enjoy in the organization of the ASLs, in all these services multidisciplinary teams work and, depending on the patient's clinical conditions, they evaluate the most appropriate therapeutic program, which can be implemented in their own office on an outpatient basis, or in the most serious cases, through therapeutic programs in residential or semi-residential facilities.
Residential and semi-residential facilities
The access to these facilities usually occurs by sending the SERD which, on the basis of the eligibility criteria defined by the facility, identifies the most appropriate process for the patient's specific health needs.
Residential structures (therapeutic communities) provide treatments according to a residential regime and they are divided into different types according to the main need.
Semi-residential facilities (day care centers) provide rehabilitation and re-socializing treatments during certain hours of the day.

Find the facility

In this section it is possible to carry out a search on the whole national territory or a specific territorial area (Region, Province, Municipality, ASL). All services are active throughout the year and therapeutic continuity is guaranteed for pharmacological treatments.
It is possible to narrow down the search by specifying the type of facility for which information has to be obtained: SERD / SERT, Semi-residential Centers (Day care Centers) and Residential Facilities (Therapeutic Communities).