Gambling Addiction


Gambling can be a fun pastime, but for some people it becomes a serious problem that impacts their lives in many ways. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 2 million adults (1%) experience severe gambling problems that significantly interfere with their day-to-day activities and cause significant distress or impairment. Another 4-6 million (2-4%) may have mild or moderate gambling problems that do not meet diagnostic criteria for pathological gambling disorder. The prevalence of these problems has increased over the past two decades, despite an overall decrease in gambling participation.

While it is not known exactly what causes people to develop a gambling addiction, researchers and mental health professionals have identified several risk factors that can be associated with a gambling addiction. These include a family history of gambling addiction, substance abuse, a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety, and a lack of social support.

People with a gambling addiction often hide their gambling activity from friends and family members, and they may lie about how much time and money they spend on gambling. They may also become secretive and hide evidence of their gambling, such as bank statements or credit card receipts. These activities can also affect a person’s finances and their ability to work, and they can also damage relationships.

It is important to realize that there is help available for people with gambling addictions. A variety of treatment options are available, including individual and group therapy, medications, and self-help support groups. A qualified therapist can assess a person’s needs and recommend the most appropriate treatment option.

This study used data from a large contemporary UK cohort, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Participants were assessed at three time points (age 17 years, 20 years, and 24 years) using computer-administered gambling surveys in research clinics or online. The survey included items that allowed participants to respond yes or no to questions about whether they had gambled in the previous year, and there were separate questions about gambling frequency and specific types of gambling. The analyses used multiple imputation techniques to minimise the bias from missing data, but the sample size was small at each time point, and therefore the results should be interpreted with caution. Individual antecedents of regular gambling were generally consistent with the literature, with significant associations with male gender, low IQ, high external locus of control, and sensation seeking. A higher score on the Global Assessment of Functioning scale was also associated with gambling in the fully adjusted models. This measure has been shown to be a good indicator of functioning and may be useful in future studies to identify those at greatest risk of developing a gambling problem.