Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Gambling problem exposed as access grows

Date:
May 19, 2011
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
A new paper finds that the proliferation of gambling opportunities around the world, particularly online, is increasing the visibility of gambling disorders and giving access to people who previously had no exposure to gambling opportunities.

A new paper by University of Calgary psychologist Dr. David Hodgins says the proliferation of gambling opportunities around the world, particularly online, is increasing the visibility of gambling disorders and giving access to people who previously had no exposure to gambling opportunities.

Related Articles


Hodgins, head of the university's Addictive Behaviours Laboratory, says gambling disorders are often found in conjunction with other mental health and substance-abuse disorders. In an online version of the medical journal, The Lancet, Hodgins says the study of problem gambling is relatively recent and further understanding is needed to find root causes and treatment implications.

"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."

The prevalence of gambling disorders worldwide is highly variable, ranging from 1 in 500 people in Norway to as high as 1 in 20 people in Hong Kong. In the USA, about one per cent of the population are pathological gamblers, with a further one to two per cent categorized as problem gamblers.

Gambling problems are often accompanied by other conditions. Pathological gamblers have a four-times increased risk of alcohol abuse and up to six-times increased risk of drug abuse; and also a four-times increased risk of having some kind of mood disorder.

Research suggests that a number of centres in the brain are implicit in gambling disorders, including learning and reward centres. Genetic factors also play a part, with evidence from twin studies suggesting some level of shared risk between identical twins. And environmental factors are clearly part of the risk, including accessibility to gambling, location and type of establishment. Childhood exposure to gambling through parents with a gambling addiction of some level also affects gambling behavior later in life.

Due mainly to shame, denial, and a desire to handle the problem themselves, only one in 10 problem gamblers seeks treatment. Surveys suggest around a third of problem gamblers recover during their lifetime, and that the disorder is transient and episodic in many cases. Many gamblers chose to self-help by doing time-consuming activities incompatible with gambling, and avoiding gambling venues and exposure to temptations.

For those who do seek treatment, cognitive behavioural therapy has proven to be about 60 per cent more effective then no treatment at all. This focuses on modifying distorted perceptions associated with gambling, including overestimating probabilities of winning, illusions of control over the outcome of a gamble, the belief that a win is due after a series of losses (the gambler's fallacy), and memory biases in favour of remembering wins.

No drugs are currently approved anywhere for treatment of gambling disorders, however there have been numerous trials. Testing of drugs used mainly in alcohol and heroin addiction have been show to help reduce the intensity of gambling urges, thoughts and behaviour.

Other interventions, such as Gamblers Anonymous, promote a sense of common purpose and understanding to reinforce abstinence. However, some studies have suggested that adherence to such sessions, can be poor, as can the outcomes. Family therapy, in which close family members are helped to give interventions to their loves ones, can have positive effects but can also be difficult to administer without the direct help of a therapist.

"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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Calgary. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David C. Hodgins, Jonathan N. Stea, Jon E. Grant. Gambling disorders. The Lancet, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62185-X

Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "Gambling problem exposed as access grows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110518191523.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2011, May 19). Gambling problem exposed as access grows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110518191523.htm
University of Calgary. "Gambling problem exposed as access grows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110518191523.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

You Don't Have To Be Alcohol Dependent To Need Treatment

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 9 out of 10 excessive drinkers in the country are not alcohol dependent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins