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.

 

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.

 

Slots & Poker Apps: Gambling with Addiction? [Research]

People who play digital simulated gambling games were “significantly” more likely to report problem gambling behaviors, according to a recent Australian study.

Social casino gamers is a term that describes people who play simulated casino games that don’t involve real money wagers. Examples include apps that mimic slots or poker games.

The research, which was reviewed on the Worldwide Addiction Gambling Education Report (WAGER), was based on interviews with 2,010 gamblers. The results revealed that 15% of social casino gamers were at moderate risk for developing problem gambling, while 5% were problem gamblers.   Social casino gamers were also less likely to be non-gamblers. The group reported it was more likely to engage in other risky behaviors, too, including smoking and illegal drug use.

As noted in WAGER, the findings don’t necessarily say that social casino games create gambling addiction; it’s possible that people who are already at risk for problem gambling are more attracted to these types of games.

However, it’s also important to consider whether the findings could suggest that social casino gaming puts players at higher risk because it nurtures a false sense of skill. In addition, another study found that people who played free gambling games bet “significantly” more in real money games later than those who hadn’t played the free games. Gambling-like apps may also make gaming much more accessible to youth, potentially increasing their vulnerability to developing gambling problems later in life. Learn more about Kids and Simulated Gambling.

Problem Gambling Resources in Lancaster, PA and Lebanon, PA

If you’re a concerned health care or mental health professional, visit Problem Gambling Resources, bookmark our Gambling Blog, or follow Compass Mark on Facebook for the latest in news, research, and training opportunities.

 

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.

 

 

5 Problem Gambling Myths Exposed

When it comes to addiction, what you don’t know can hurt you or a loved one. Learn the top myths about problem gambling so you’re better able to identify a potential problem or help a loved one.

1. Problem gambling suggests bad morals or a lack of willpower.

False. Excessive gambling behavior is a diagnosable condition, like other addiction-related disorders. It doesn’t discriminate, and it impacts people of any age, gender, or ethnic background. Numerous studies suggest links between compulsive gambling behavior and the brain. For example, those with a weaker neural connection between two specific brain regions are more likely to be risky gamblers. Another study discovered that problem gamblers showed higher activity levels in brain regions linked to rewards.

2. Excessive gambling is a money problem.

False. Problem gambling is a condition related to a range of risk factors, including substance abuse, family history of addiction, and starting to gamble at an early age. Gambling addiction affects healthy decision-making regardless of financial resources or money management skills.

3. To have a gambling problem, the person needs to gamble every day.

False. While some problem gamblers may seem to bet online 24/7 or spend all their time sitting in front of slots, others gamble in intermittent binges. The truth is that gambling becomes a problem any time it impacts the gambler’s relationships, financial situation, and emotional or physical health.

4. A problem gambler will stop gambling if you pay off his or her debt.

False. Paying their gambling debt provides temporary financial relief, however it does nothing to reboot the gambler’s brain so they can start the recovery journey. In reality, paying off the debt can actually drive them deeper into the addiction because they’re prevented from feeling the real-world consequences of their behavior.

5. An elderly person won’t quit gambling.

False. Don’t buy into the belief that a loved one is too “set in their ways” to change. Gambling addiction is treatable at any age. Reach out to a counselor specifically trained to work with problem gamblers. If possible, find a problem gambling counselor who also has experience working with seniors. It is never too late to change. And when the gambler is an older person, it’s critical to find gambling help sooner rather than later.

Take the quiz on our home page to learn whether you or someone you love is at risk for developing problem gambling.

To find gambling addiction treatment or prevention resources in Lancaster County or Lebanon County, contact our team for nonjudgmental guidance. Call 717-299-2831 or fill out our Gambling Help Form.

 

New Survey to Examine Link Between Domestic Violence and Gambling

What’s the relationship between problem gambling and domestic violence? The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) has launched a new survey to find out.

The nine-question online survey, which is open to New Jersey residents, asks respondents about gambling behavior as well as its impact on mood and abusive behavior. The nonprofit will use the results to better understand the connection between disordered gambling and intimate partner abuse and violence.

CCGNJ’s initiative will hopefully add to the growing body of research that continues to identify a link between problem gambling and an increased risk of abuse. For example:

  • A study of men ordered by courts to participate in domestic violence perpetrator intervention programs found 9% met the criteria for pathological gambling and 17% showed at least some problem gambling behaviors–both rates higher than that of the general population.
  • Research suggests up to 50% of compulsive gamblers’ spouses reported verbal abuse.
  • About 65% of problem gamblers in one study said they’d committed domestic violence or had been the victim of it in the previous year.
Find Help for Domestic Violence

Problem gambling is a diagnosable condition that creates a home environment rife with stress, anxiety, and fear. Yet, no one deserves physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. If you, your children, or your aging parents are being abused, you can’t afford to wait until your partner gets his or her gambling under control.

Reach out for help now. Contact:

Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County at 717-299-9677

Domestic Violence Intervention of Lebanon County at 717-273-7190

National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

Find Help for Gambling Addiction

While problem gambling can contribute to domestic violence, the reverse is also true. Some people use gambling as a way to escape a turbulent home environment. If you’ve turned to gambling to relieve the extreme stress of living in an abusive home, seek help.

Contact a counselor able to guide you through the next steps of your journey. He or she will assess your immediate and long-term needs, including domestic violence resources and a problem gambling treatment plan. For compassionate guidance to the right gambling help resources, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or fill out our Help Form.

 

Alcohol Abuse and Gambling: How to Break the Cycle

Gambling addiction isn’t a money problem. It’s a serious, progressive condition that’s connected to a host of other serious problems, including alcohol abuse. Here’s what you need to know about the alcohol abuse-gambling addiction cycle and how to break it:

Research suggests nearly 75% of people with the most serious form of gambling addiction abuse alcohol too. About 44% of those who struggle with at least some problem gambling criteria abuse alcoholic substances as well.

Why Do Alcohol Abuse and Problem Gambling Co-Occur So Frequently?

The significant stress and strain of living with an often hidden gambling addiction compels some people to turn to alcohol as a way to relieve those feelings. In other people, alcohol abuse leads to problem gambling. Alcohol lowers inhibitions–a factor that potentially results in anything from driving under the influence to betting too much at the blackjack table.

Regardless of the origin, these behaviors reinforce each other, and the result is frequently a cycle of drinking and gambling heavily. For some people, the behaviors are frequent, perhaps daily; for others, they occur in binges.

In addition, research suggests that substance abuse and behavioral addictions, like gambling, share some of the same biological foundations and risk factors.

Alcohol Abuse and Problem Gambling: Relapse Dangers

It’s also critical for anyone struggling with either condition to be aware of the potential impact of the other behavior on recovery. Gambling can provide a pathway toward relapse when someone is recovering from alcohol abuse. For example, alcohol is an ingrained part of casino and racetrack environments. An alcohol abuser in recovery might find it hard to resist cravings in a gambling atmosphere. The reverse is also true: a recovering problem gambler can find that alcohol lowers his or her inhibitions, making it harder to overcome gambling cravings.

You Can Break the Cycle.

Treatment and lasting recovery are possible! If you or someone you love struggles with both behaviors, it’s time to find specialized treatment that supports recovery from alcohol abuse and gambling addiction. Find a Treatment Provider, or contact Compass Mark for confidential guidance to help resources in Lancaster County and Lebanon County. Call our team at 717-299-2831 or use the Compulsive Gambling Help Form.

Learn More:

When a Loved One is an Alcoholic and Compulsive Gambler: Guide for Families
Trading Alcohol Abuse for Problem Gambling: 4 Facts for Loved Ones 

 

Simulated Gambling May Be a Gamble for Kids [Research]

Kids who play simulated gambling games, like free poker or casino-style games, are more likely to gamble and report gambling problems later in life, according to a recent discussion paper from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC). It also cited evidence suggesting about 20% of adolescents playing simulated gambling will transition to gambling for real money.

In addition, the authors note that the players reported the primary reason they move from simulated to commercial gambling is to win money. It’s worth noting that 25% of the teens who reported gambling for real money said they’d switched to simulated games to avoid losing money.

The AGRC’s Dr. Anna Thomas said in a release:

“Young people are being introduced to gambling at a far younger age than in previous generations when to be able to gamble you had to gain entry to a venue, meet dress codes and produce identification.

“Today people are much more likely to have a realistic gambling-type experience at a young age and this may increase the extent to which gambling is seen as normal, acceptable, attractive and relatively harmless.”

Reasons Free or Practice Games are a Gamble for Kids & Teens
  • These games reinforce winning behavior with credits or prizes but don’t expose players to the consequences of losses (i.e. losing real money).
  • Studies suggest free-to-play and practice games offer higher “payouts” than gambling that involves real money.
  • Researchers have found that players who gamble on free simulated games bet “significantly” more than other players when they later wager with real money.
  • Simulated games may give players an inflated sense of skill level, providing a confidence boost that attracts them to real money games—even though gambling success is based on luck and not skill.
Learn more about gambling in children and adolescents.

Tips for Parents of Teen Online Gamblers
Fantasy Football: Priming Kids for Problem Gambling?
Is Your College Student at Risk for Problem Gambling? How to Start a Conversation

If you’re a parent or loved one worried about a youth’s simulated play or real-money gambling, take this risk assessment quiz. For additional information, contact our team for free, confidential guidance.

Are you an educator, youth group leader, or other concerned professional? Compass Mark offers We Know BETter, a free gambling education and awareness program designed for children in grades 4-8. Learn more by contacting us at (717) 299-2831