Military Members May Be At Risk for Problem Gambling

The U.S. military may not be doing everything it can to diagnose gambling disorder, suggests the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report, which based its findings on Department of Defense (DOD) data, said the military has only diagnosed about .03% of its service members with the disorder each year. The GAO noted that the DOD doesn’t specifically target gambling abuse for screening, which means service members with the condition may be likely to go undiagnosed.

The GAO offered several recommendations, including the addition of problem gambling questions to the military’s screening processes. However, the DOD rejected that recommendation, arguing that it was “impractical to screen for every low prevalence disorder.”

It’s worth noting the DOD currently operates 3,141 slot machines—1,159 of which are on Japanese bases. The machines generated nearly $539 million in revenue from 2011 to 2015.

What We Know About Problem Gambling & Military Veterans

Previous research suggests problem gambling is an issue that impacts active-duty and retired veterans. For example, nearly 10% of U.S. vets struggle with disordered gambling, a rate that’s 2-3 times higher than that of the general population. In addition, about 17% of veterans with PTSD show symptoms of problematic gambling.

Researchers have also found that military experiences and post-deployment stress are associated with higher problem gambling rates among American veterans.

What to Do When a Service Member or Retired Veteran Gambles Too Much

Gambling becomes a problem when it has a negative impact on life. That impact can take the form of money arguments with a partner, lack of money to pay for necessities, or losing track of time while gambling. A problem gambler might seemingly gamble all the time or they might gamble in binges.

Take the quiz to find out if you or someone you love is at risk.

Veterans can find help by contacting their VA medical center or clinic. Make the Connection, by the Department of Veterans Affairs, also shares mental well-being resources for active-duty or retired service members.

For Lancaster or Lebanon resources, call the Compass Mark team at 717-299-2831.

 

 

Life Events May Spark Problem Gambling Behavior [Research]

Life events, like retirement and job loss, may increase problem gambling behavior, according to a recent gambling study.

The researchers conducted three phone interviews, each one year apart, with 250 Canadian adults. During the calls, researchers asked participants about life events that had occurred in the previous 12 months.

The results suggest that these factors increase Problem Gambling Severity Index  (PGSI) scores. Retirement was the strongest predictor of a rise in problematic gambling behavior. This was followed by job loss and having difficulties with a boss.

It’s worth noting that none of the life events predicted a decrease in PGSI scores.

How might these findings help professionals prevent & treat gambling addiction?

As noted in the review of this study by Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER), the results suggest that counselors, healthcare professionals, and others can be on the alert for changes in patients experiencing life events.

The research also suggests that the trigger event doesn’t necessarily need to appear negative or significant. For example, many people view retirement, the primary trigger in this study, as a positive life transition. Consider also that having trouble with a boss may not, on the surface, seem like a problem so significant that it can increase addictive behavior.

March is Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Problem gambling is a serious condition that often flies under the radar. Unlike the abuse of alcohol and other drugs, it rarely manifests itself in apparent physical symptoms.

If you’re a counselor, educator, or health professional, Problem Gambling Awareness Month is the perfect time to learn more about this diagnosable–and treatable–condition so you can better help the people you serve. Check out these resources:

Problem Gambling Awareness Month 2017-Stats and Facts

Some Gamblers Self-Medicate with Mobile/Computer Casino Games [Research]

Parkinson’s Meds Linked to Higher Risk of Problem Gambling [Research]

Men Who Gamble More Prone to Violent Behavior [Research]

Problem Gambling Resources for Health Care Professionals

If you’d like additional information on gambling addiction prevention and treatment resources in Lancaster County, PA and Lebanon County, PA, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831.

Gamblers “In the Zone” at Higher Risk for Problem Gambling [Research]

Gamblers who describe being “in a zone” while playing slot machines are more likely to be at risk for gambling problems, according to new research by the University of British Columbia (UBC).

The study involved participants playing a real slot machine placed in a lab. Panels positioned on each side of the machine displayed changing shapes. Participants were asked to press a button every time they noticed that a white circle on the panels changed into a red square. Researchers also measured participants’ heart rates and asked them questions about their gambling.

The study, which was recently published in the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, discovered that players with higher levels of immersion, such as feeling like they were in a trance or losing track of time, were at higher risk for developing gambling addiction. Additionally, the researchers found that higher-risk gamblers were also more likely to miss the changing shapes on the panels next to the slot machine.

The study notes that slot machines, a popular form of gambling worldwide, are consistently linked to addictive betting behavior. Luke Clark, senior author and director of the Centre for Gambling Research at UBC, said that the findings suggested the potential for a slot machine modification or new features that would promote responsible gambling.

Gambling Resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA

If you are a health care or education professional in Lancaster or Lebanon who would like additional problem gambling resources that help you better serve your clients or students, call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831. Also visit:

Gambling Addiction Resources
Treatment Providers in Lancaster, Lebanon, and the Surrounding Area
Gambling Addiction Treatment Blog

 

Some Gamblers Self-Medicate with Mobile/Computer Casino Games [Research]

Almost half of people at risk for gambling problems turn to social casino-type games on mobile devices or computers to cope with negative feelings, according to a study from Southern Cross University.

The study, which was reviewed by the Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER), revealed that nearly half its sample played social casino games, like poker and gaming machines, to escape from problems or relieve a negative mood. Participants also reported unsuccessful attempts to stop or reduce playing, preoccupation with the games, withdrawal, and negative impacts.

Researchers and health care providers, including problem gambling therapists, have long understood that people who struggle with unhealthy gambling behavior sometimes use wagering as a form of self-medication. This research extends that idea to at-risk gamblers playing on mobile devices or computers.

The study doesn’t provide evidence that social casino games trigger traditional gambling, or vice versa. However, it does suggest that health care providers, such as mental health counselors, should be alert to problem gamblers turning to these games to self-medicate gambling urges.

In addition, health care providers should know that previous research has uncovered that people who play practice or no-money games are more likely to bet in higher amounts when they play for real money later. This could be because gambling app practice modes may generate confidence in skill level—a false sense considering that, ultimately, the house always wins. What’s more, there’s evidence that “payouts” for many practice or no-money games are higher than those in real money games, adding to that false sense of confidence.

Gambling Addiction Resources for Health Care Professionals

If you’re a health care provider or other concerned professional, visit Gambling Resources for more information. Are you in the Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA area? Call Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 to learn more about our gambling awareness and prevention programs or to get a treatment referral.

 

Parkinson’s Meds Linked to Higher Risk of Problem Gambling [Research]

Common drug treatments for Parkinson’s disease are linked to compulsive gambling and other conditions, according to a recent scientific review by a team from Loyola Medicine and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

The review linked the class of drugs, which controls tremors and other symptoms, to a range of impulse-related disorders, including problem gambling, hypersexuality, compulsive eating, and compulsive shopping.

While it’s possible to treat the impulse issues by switching, reducing, or stopping the suspected medications, patients are often reluctant to change Parkinson’s treatments because they fear their condition will worsen, according to the report. Stopping the drugs may also produce withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks in some patients.

The review’s authors suggest that alternative strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, could help manage impulse disorders in patients. They also stressed the importance of the role of Parkinson’s patients’ family members. Along with caregivers, family members can help by reporting out-of-character behavior that suggests an impulse control disorder.

Signs of Gambling Problems in Seniors
  • Acting evasively or lying about time or money spent gambling;
  • Inability to account for time spent gambling;
  • Uncharacteristic decline in personal care, which may include not taking necessary medications;
  • Increase in calls from bill collectors;
  • Engaging in frequent arguments about money or bills;
  • Cashing out life insurance policies, retirement funds, or other earmarked accounts;
  • Selling valuables or heirlooms.

If you’re concerned about an older loved one’s gambling behavior, reach out for help now. Talk with the Compass Mark team for confidential guidance or referrals to resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA.

 

Brain Activity Linked to Problem Gambling [Research]

Gambling addiction activates the same brain areas as cravings for alcohol and other drugs, according to recent research.  The study also revealed that problem gamblers showed a weaker connection between some areas of the brain.

The gambling study, conducted by an international team of researchers and funded by the UK Medical Research Council, found that gambling triggers activity in two brain areas, the insula and nucleus accumbens, in those addicted to the behavior. These regions are linked to rewards, impulse control, and decision making. Previous research had connected those areas to cravings for alcohol and other drugs.

In addition, the researchers discovered that problem gamblers showed a weaker connection between the nucleus accumbens and frontal lobe, which plays a role in decision making. Experts theorize that the weaker frontal lobe link makes it harder for a problem gambler to control impulses and easier to ignore the negative consequences of unhealthy gambling behavior.

The findings suggest that gambling addiction could possibly be treated in the future by controlling activity in those brain areas affected by gambling.

Gambling Resources for Health Care & Treatment Professionals

Treatment for Problem Gambling in Lancaster, PA, Lebanon, PA, and the Surrounding Area
Council on Compulsive Gambling in Pennsylvania
National Council on Problem Gambling
College Gambling Resources for Campus Health Professionals  

If you’re in Lancaster or Lebanon, you can also count on the Compass Mark Referral Team to guide you to the resources you need to help patients and clients.

 

Problem Gambling Linked to Mental Health Disorders in U.S. Tribal Communities [Research]

American Indian (AI) and Alaskan Native (AN) community members with low- or at-risk gambling behaviors were more likely than non-gamblers to have had a psychiatric disorder, according to researchers studying the tribal communities.

The study, which was reviewed on The Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER),  looked for connections between problem gambling and a range of other diagnosable conditions, including anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders.

In addition, it revealed “AI/AN adults had 20% increased odds of being a low-risk gambler versus a non-gambler, when compared to white/Caucasian adults,” according to WAGER. However, the tribal populations were not more likely to be at-risk gamblers than the white/Caucasian group.

These findings show yet another connection between problem gambling behavior and other conditions related to mental health. Over the years on our gambling blog, we’ve looked at this addiction’s connection to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, and suicide.

WAGER also suggests the research underscores the idea that customized intervention strategies may be needed for some problem gamblers—in this case, tribal community members who may feel oppressed in their daily lives and historically traumatized.

Problem Gambling Help Resources for Professionals in Lancaster & Lebanon

If you’re a counselor or other healthcare professional in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA who would like additional gambling addiction prevention, intervention, or treatment resources, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831.

 

 

Does Childhood Maltreatment Contribute to Problem Gambling? [Research]

People with gambling disorder reported significantly higher levels of childhood maltreatment, according to a recent study.

The researchers conducted personal interviews with participants, asking them about their history of emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. For example, the findings, which were reviewed on the Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER), revealed:

  • 40% of problem gamblers reported emotional abuse, compared with 12% of non-problem gamblers.
  • 48% of problem gamblers reported verbal abuse, as opposed to 19% of non-problem gamblers.

As WAGER notes, the study shows a connection but doesn’t prove that childhood maltreatment causes gambling problems. Rather, it suggests that positive parenting may act as a protective factor against risky behaviors, like disordered gambling.

What are protective factors?

Protective factors are qualities or skills that help youth make healthier decisions about gambling and other risky activities. Protective factors include things like:

  • Family cohesion;
  • Consistent discipline;
  • School engagement;
  • Strong communication skills;
  • Good relationships with peers;
  • Good conflict resolution skills.

Compass Mark programs, including gambling awareness and education curriculum We Know BETter, work to build specific protective factors in Lancaster- and Lebanon-area youth. For example, We Know BETter utilizes age-appropriate activities to help children in grades 4-8 learn about the dangers of youth gambling as well as practice refusal and coping skills.

Contact us at 717-299-2831 to learn how this gambling education program will help build protective factors in your students so they can make healthier decisions about gambling.

 

Problem Gambling in Veterans May Have Links to Military Experiences, Other Factors [Research]

Researchers have found that military experiences and post-deployment stressors may be associated with higher rates of problem gambling in U.S. veterans.

The researchers collected secondary data from 738 American military veterans who had participated in the Survey of the Experiences of Returning Veterans (SERV) study. The veterans answered questions about their psychiatric health, gambling behavior, and military service history. In addition, they responded to questions about post-deployment stressors, including legal or financial issues and violent encounters, as well as post-deployment support.

The findings, which were analyzed by WAGER, revealed that 4.2% of the veterans reported at-risk or problem gambling. Other key findings include:

  • Those with at-risk or problem gambling were more likely to report PTSD, panic disorder, depression, and substance abuse.
  • Those with at-risk or problem gambling scored higher on non-sexual harassment during deployment and post-deployment stressors, and they scored lower on post-deployment support.
  • Those with at-risk or problem gambling and those who gambled socially were more likely to report Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

This research supports previous findings that show military veterans are at risk for gambling problems. They also suggest a connection between service-related experiences, both during and after deployment.

Unhealthy gambling is a problem for many in our nation’s military. The National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) estimates about 36,000 active-duty service members may be at risk for problem gambling—an issue not helped by the fact that American military installations overseas are home to at least 3,000 slot machines.

How to Get Help for Problem Gambling

If you’re a veteran concerned about your gambling behavior, contact your VA medical center or community clinic. You can also check out Make the Connection, an online mental well-being resource from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

To find additional gambling addiction prevention and treatment resources in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA, contact the Compass Mark team at 717-299-2831 or fill out our simple Help Form.

 

Virtual Reality Gambling: A Risk to Problem and At-Risk Gamblers?

Imagine a Pokémon-like game combined with gambling in a virtual reality setting. That’s precisely what one company is now trying to deliver to players. One of the leading providers for real-money, skill-based gaming, Gamblit Gaming, announced a partnership with another company to produce a location-based real-money gaming experience.

Gamblit’s website styles its products as “Gaming meets gambling, and everybody wins.” In the new game, players will fight virtual monsters as well as wager on their success. Spectators will also be able to watch and bet on players. The game uses HTC’s VRC (Virtual Reality Cube) and offers “room-scale VR and true-to-life” interactions.

It’s true that many Americans will likely be able to enjoy this or similar games without negative consequences; however, this technology also presents one more potential pathway to gambling addiction for those at risk.

Compulsive gambling is a diagnosable condition that has a devastating impact on the 6-9 million Americans estimated to meet the criteria. It’s been linked to an increased risk for substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, and suicide.

As gambling becomes increasingly available via tablets, smartphones, and other devices, it’s critical for individuals, families, educators, and healthcare providers to become more aware of this addiction, which often flies under the radar. The addition of a virtual reality component to wagers is troubling considering that research suggests the environment surrounding gambling, such as casino lights or sounds, spurs riskier bets.

Finding Help and Resources for Problem Gambling in Lancaster and Lebanon

Whether you’re an educator worried about a student’s gambling or a healthcare provider in need of a patient referral, visit Compass Mark’s Gambling Resources for links to articles, journals, and other help resources.

If you’re struggling with gambling or you’re worried about your behavior but aren’t quite sure if you have a problem, contact our team at 717-299-2831 or use our simple Help Form. We’ll share confidential guidance and resources to help you find a healthier path.