More primary care physicians are evaluating patients for potential addictive disorders, including gambling. Although gambling is a relatively common, legalized activity, it has the potential for addiction, which warrants consideration. The relative importance of gambling behavior evaluation depends on the health benefits and risks associated with it. The following discussion provides information on how to evaluate patients for pathological gambling. To determine the potential for addictive disorder, patients should be tested for gambling at an early stage of the disease.
Adolescents engage in pathological gambling
Most adults with a gambling problem began playing as adolescents. Prevention of pathological gambling must start in the teenage years. The risk factors for pathological gambling are similar to those of other addictive behaviors, including low self-esteem, high rates of depression, and weak coping skills. Rizeanu also highlighted the negative effects of gambling on children’s psycho-cognitive development. There are three main categories of prevention: primary, secondary, and tertiary.
Prevention and education are critical aspects of the solution. The earliest age at which adolescents have been reported to begin gambling is seven years old. Prevention programs for pathological gambling should target the schools, as well as other community activities. But these are only part of the solution. It will take more than prevention and education to help prevent gambling. It will take a combination of approaches to prevent problem gambling in youth. Here are some ideas.
Adults engage in compulsive gambling
An estimated 1 to 3 percent of adult Americans engage in compulsive gambling. This condition tends to be more common among men than women, and is accompanied by substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. It also has severe consequences for an individual’s physical and psychological health, including financial ruin, divorce, job loss, and heart attacks. Further, it can affect one’s relationships and lead to suicidal thoughts.
The prevalence of problem gambling is much higher among young adults than among adults, according to the Texas Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling. However, some people may have been able to gamble occasionally without suffering serious consequences. Others use gambling as a way to get over financial problems. Despite these risks, many people gamble to relieve the stress of everyday life. And while it is important to understand the causes of compulsive gambling, it is important to seek help when necessary.
Youth engage in problem gambling
Public health approaches to problem gambling are slow to emerge, largely because of the complexity of the subject. While this phenomenon is similar to that of tobacco and alcohol abuse, it is less visible and masked by a variety of myths and popular perceptions. The success of advertising and mass media in promoting gambling has also contributed to this phenomenon. Therefore, a more comprehensive public health approach to problem gambling is needed to tackle the issue.
While the majority of gambling activities are peer-related, older youth engage in a wider range of activities than younger youth. Lotteries and arcade games are popular choices among older youth, and Great Britain recently introduced slot machines to family leisure centres and arcades. Despite the risks associated with gambling, it has been shown that youth who engage in problem gambling are more likely to have started playing the game at a younger age, live in homes with gambling parents, or be without two parents.
Gambling addiction affects an individual’s entire life. If unchecked, it can lead to financial ruin, loss of home and business, or even child custody. Substance abuse can mask the symptoms of gambling addiction, but it can also damage the body and negatively affect the patient’s mood. Fortunately, treatment options for gambling addiction are available. Here are a few ways to help your loved one recover from the scourge of compulsive gambling.
Therapy can help a person identify their patterns and understand the effects of their behavior. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on challenging harmful gambling thoughts and behaviours. Another effective option is support groups, similar to AA and NA. These groups help people identify their triggers and learn coping strategies that can help them stop gambling. Psychotherapy is not for everyone, but it can be very helpful for some people. To determine if this type of treatment is right for you, contact a qualified addiction counselor.