Problem gambling affects millions of people around the world, including adolescents and adults. It is a social activity that can destroy lives. Mental health professionals have developed criteria for diagnosing this disorder. Many practitioners use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. The DSM list Gambling Disorder alongside other addictive behaviors. A Gambler has made multiple unsuccessful attempts to control their gambling. The Gambler has lost control of his or her impulses and has no control over the behavior.
Problem gambling affects people of all ages
A systematic review by Calado et al. in 2017 concluded that a small number of adolescents have gambling-related problems, which can result in negative emotional states, poor educational and vocational outcomes, and poor peer relationships. However, most studies have utilized cross-sectional designs, and few longitudinal studies have tracked problem gambling in young adults or at late adolescence. Further, only a small number of studies have followed participants throughout their adolescence and into adulthood.
Researchers from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children found that young adults with problem gambling were significantly more likely to report experiencing depression than non-gamblers. The same study found that problem gambling rates remained fairly stable during the youth-to-adult transition. The results supported the first hypothesis. But the findings were mixed for other age groups. Nevertheless, the study did find an association between gambling and other potentially addictive behaviors, including smoking and alcohol use.
It is a social activity
There are many reasons to engage in gambling, from the excitement of the game to the benefits to mental and physical health. Older adults enjoy gambling as a social activity, as it helps them relax, fight boredom, and be a part of the action. It affects all aspects of a person’s life: emotional, intellectual, and physical. The researchers also found that gambling promotes social support and community activity.
Different types of gambling have different motivations. While some gamble for money, many use the activity to escape negative feelings. Others gamble for sheer fun or to enhance their masculinity. These reasons vary over time, but one thing remains consistent: older adults who engage in gambling are more likely to be men. Nevertheless, it is not clear which of these factors drives the gambling behavior. The key to understanding gambling behaviors among older adults lies in understanding these factors.
It is an impulse-control disorder
Almost one in three adults in the US experiences pathological gambling, a type of impulse-control disorder characterized by a preoccupation with gambling. Pathological gamblers often spend their free time and money on gambling, and they may also use deception to maintain their behavior. Pathological gamblers often experience significant financial and social difficulties because of their disorder, but the treatment of this condition is still evolving. A common treatment for pathological gambling involves cognitive therapy and motivational interviewing. Although treatments for pathological gambling are relatively well-established, comorbidity is an important factor in treating the disorder.
In addition to medication, treatments for impulse-control disorders may include behavioral interventions and therapeutic techniques. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a prominent form of treatment for impulse control disorders, and it works by helping clients recognize the connection between their distorted thoughts and actions. CBT aims to change distorted thoughts into more rational, positive ones that help the individual control their urges. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a useful approach for treating gambling addiction by helping the person understand how their thinking influences their behavior.
It can destroy lives
One of the most shocking statistics of our time is that an estimated third of all adults in the UK suffer from problem gambling. More than five thousand of these people are children. This high number of problem gamblers has prompted the British Medical Journal to write an open letter to the government and ask it to impose a statutory levy on betting companies. This report also cites recent research which shows that problem gamblers are more likely to suffer from alcohol, drug, and mental health problems than non-gamblers.
In addition to losing everything you once valued, gambling can also lead to betrayal. Sadly, compulsive gambling can cause families to break apart. In some cases, it can result in suicide, which means that gambling addiction can destroy a family. For these reasons, it’s important to seek help if you suspect you may be suffering from a gambling problem. However, even if you think you don’t have a problem, you can still get help. Treatment for compulsive gambling is possible and can be very effective.