When the issue of problem gambling –an addiction that can have dire consequences for individuals and families– comes to mind, many people think of those in the middle or later years of their lives, but as with all mental health issues, problem gambling doesn’t limit its potentially debilitating effects to a single age group. Young people, even adolescents, can find themselves grappling with the complications of problem gambling, and young boys especially may be at particular risk. Recently, a study was conducted which links occurrences of problem gambling with other signs of conduct issues, giving parents, general practice doctors, and mental health professionals a more distinct ability to screen for a variety of difficulties often experienced by modern boys.
The study found that boys were significantly more prone to developing conduct issues, such as vandalism, impulsive behaviors, lying, shoplifting, aggression, and substance abuse, than were girls, though as a collected group, the surveyed youth revealed that those with conduct difficulties had a twenty three percent chance of also experiencing difficulties with risky gambling and addiction. The researchers noted that for each additional symptom of conduct issues that was reported, participating youth had another eighty percent jump in likelihood to have an issue with problem gambling as well, a strong correlation that provides ample persuasion for cross-screening young clients.
Describing problem gambling and other issues covered by the study, researchers proposed that this “cluster” of behaviors may be observed early on in adolescence and should be addressed at the onset to help encourage a better quality of life into maturity and adulthood. Sponsored by the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, the study is one of many modern attempts to prevent addiction issues in young people rather than focus all efforts on treating fully developed cases in adults.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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