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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Gambling Addiction More Common Than Alcohol Abuse

Problem gambling is a huge issue, but it was never thought to be a bigger addiction than alcohol dependence. A new study has concluded that gambling addiction is more common among adults than problem drinking. According to researchers at the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions, after age 21, problem gambling is much more common among U.S. adults than alcohol addiction, despite the fact that alcohol dependence has received much more attention. The results of the study were published in this month's issue of the Journal of Gambling Studies, where John W. Welte, principal investigator on the study and a national expert on alcohol and gambling pathology, determined that there are a number of inconsistencies between his research and many of the other studies done on the topic. In the past research has supported the idea that gambling addiction is more common among adolescents than among adults, even described as a rare disorder but a treatable one according to the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Welte and his colleagues drew from two national surveys of gambling and alcohol - one of youth ages 14-21 and the second of adults 18 and older. Their goal was to identify patterns of U.S. gambling and alcohol use across a lifespan. They found that gambling, frequent gambling and problem gambling develops in frequency during the teen years, is the worst in one's 20s and 30s and then drops off among those over 70. No comparable analysis has been done previously and therefore none is available for a direct comparison of these results," Welte says. "But, given what we found about the persistence of frequent and problem gambling through adulthood, increased prevention and intervention efforts are warranted."

Gambling is problem that should not be left unchecked; it is an addiction that is no better or worse than any other addiction. Doing any one thing to an extreme is always problematic no matter how old you are. While gambling is more common amongst people with a lower socioeconomic status, it also affects people from affluent families or those who have had successful careers. Make no mistake, gambling has the power to take everything and leave nothing.

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