Problem Gambling to be Labeled "Addiction?"

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A new paper out of Harvard University could go a long way towards categorizing problem gambling as an addiction.

Right now gambling problems are classified as an "impulse control disorder." Many people want it moved to "addiction and related disorders."

According to a report from PokerPages.com, the paper called "Disordered Gambling: Etiology, Trajectory and Clinical Considerations" suggests that gambling can indeed be an addiction.

Researchers Howard Schaffer and Ryan Martin wrote:

Similar to ingesting stimulants, there is evidence that gambling is associated with autonomic arousal including elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and mood.

The research found that 75% of problem gamblers also have an alcohol problem, 38% are addicted to drugs, and 60% smoke cigarettes.

Poker Pages writes:

Traditionally, pathological gambling has been seen as something that could affect anyone with the right conditions. Schaffer and Martin have concluded that even though the opportunities for gambling have risen, those suffering from pathological gambling have not grown larger over the last 35 years: in the mid-1970s the figure stood at 0.7% and by 2005 this percentage had even dropped to 0.6%.

The researchers also concluded that online gambling is not contributing to the overall gambling problem:

The case of internet gambling provides little evidence that exposure is the primary driving force behind the prevalence and intensity of gambling. The relationship between the extent of gambling ‘involvement’ (the variety of games played) is a better predictor of disordered gambling than any particular game that people play.

The paper was published in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.

photo by John Nyboer

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