The number of people reporting gambling problems is increasing, according to a new paper. Dr. David Hodgins, psychologist and head of the University of Calgary’s Addictive Behaviours Laboratory, says that the availability of gambling venues, online gambling in particular, is causing more people to become addicted to gambling. Previous data shows that gambling problems are often found in people with other psychological and mood issues. “Most of our progress in recognizing and understanding gambling disorders has been made in the past 25 years,” says Hodgins. “Our knowledge continues to evolve in parallel with a burgeoning availability of gambling opportunities. Internet gambling, for example, is providing around-the-clock home access to several types of gambling activities to an increasing number of people around the world.”
Currently, the number of people with a gambling problem ranges from one percent to as high as five percent worldwide. People with gambling addictions are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and are more than four times likely to also have mood issues. Existing research has shown that many factors may contribute to the development of a gambling addiction, including genetic, environmental and biological. Additionally, children who witnessed a parent struggle with gambling addiction are more likely to develop a similar problem.
Only one percent of gamblers get help for their problem and most often receive cognitive behavioral therapy. Although this form of treatment is relatively successful, with over 50 percent of clients overcoming their addiction, there are very few alternatives. With few other treatment options, and no medications approved for this issue, Dr. Hodgins hopes this new information will change the type and scope of treatment available for this issue. “While substantial progress has already been made, the increased visibility and awareness into gambling disorders is likely to encourage more innovative research in the field and hopefully better treatment,” says Hodgins.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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