Harvard Medical School Researchers Map Prevalence Of Gambling Disorders In North America

December 04, 1997

Research Shows That Gambling Disorders Affect A Growing Number Of Adults

BOSTON--December 4, 1997--A Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions study has found that the prevalence of gambling disorders among adults in the United States and Canada has increased during the past two decades.

Howard Shaffer, PhD, Harvard Medical School associate professor of psychology in the department of psychiatry, Matthew N. Hall, research assistant, and Joni Vander Bilt, MPH, instructor in public health, analyzed the data from 120 gambling prevalence studies of adult, adolescent, and special populations that were published between 1977 and 1997. Based on 18 studies published between 1977-1993, the researchers estimated that 0.84 percent of the adult population in the United States and Canada were affected by a gambling disorder. They projected, after reviewing 17 studies, that the prevalence rate for 1994-1997 grew to 1.29 percent of the adult population. Shaffer will present the study to the National Center for Responsible Gaming on December 9.

"While the majority of Americans and Canadians who gamble do so without experiencing any adverse consequences, our findings show that there is a growing percentage of the adult population who are at risk for gambling disorders," Shaffer says. "This is significant as gambling disorders have both social and economic costs."

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) classifies pathological gambling as an impulse control disorder. According to the APA, clinical symptoms of pathological gambling include a preoccupation with gambling, a need to gamble with significantly increasing amounts of money, committing illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud, and embezzlement, to finance gambling, and problems with family, job, or school due to gambling.

Shaffer says that the increase of legalized gambling during the past 20 years may factor into the increase in adult gambling disorders. "Adults in the general population are more sensitive to the social sanctions against illicit behaviors than adolescents, prison inmates, or patients struggling with major psychiatric illness. As gambling has become more socially accepted and accessible during the past two decades, the general adult population has started to gamble in increasing numbers. We are now beginning to witness a growth in gambling disorder among this group," Shaffer explains.

The researchers also found that gambling disorders were significantly more prevalent among adolescents than adults; males were more likely than females to experience gambling disorders; and individuals with concurrent psychiatric or substance abuse problems displayed much higher rates of disordered gambling than either adolescents or adults sampled from the general population. Shaffer notes, however, that during the past two decades there was no increase in the rate of gambling disorders among adolescents, or adults who were being treated for psychiatric disorders or substance abuse, or those who were in prison.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Center for Responsible Gaming.


Harvard Medical School

Related Substance Abuse Articles from Brightsurf:

College students with disabilities at greater risk for substance abuse
College students with physical and cognitive disabilities use illicit drugs more, and have a higher prevalence of drug use disorder, than their non-disabled peers, according to a Rutgers study.

An AI algorithm to help identify homeless youth at risk of substance abuse
While many programs and initiatives have been implemented to address the prevalence of substance abuse among homeless youth in the United States, they don't always include data-driven insights about environmental and psychological factors that could contribute to an individual's likelihood of developing a substance use disorder.

How Tweets may influence substance abuse in youth
In a new study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), researchers characterized the content of 23 million drug-related tweets by youths to identify their beliefs and behaviors related to drug use and better understand the potential mechanisms driving substance use behavior.

Time in host country -- a risk factor for substance abuse in migrants
Refugees and other migrants who move to Sweden are initially less likely to be diagnosed with alcohol or drug addiction than the native population but over time their rates of substance abuse begin to mirror that of the Swedish born population.

Children of incarcerated parents have more substance abuse, anxiety
Children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to develop a substance use disorder in adulthood and nearly twice as likely to have diagnosable anxiety compared to children whose parents were not incarcerated, according to new research from the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.

Reducing care needs of teens with substance-abuse disorders
Screenings, interventions, and referrals can help adolescent teens overcome substance abuse in the short-term.

Pain and substance abuse interact in a vicious cycle
Pain and substance use interact in a vicious cycle that can ultimately worsen and maintain both chronic pain and addiction, according to a research team including faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Gap in substance abuse data could have long-term implications, study finds
A policy of redacting Medicare claims that included diagnosis or procedure codes related to substance abuse was in effect from 2013-2017, just as the Affordable Care Act and the opioid epidemic were drastically changing the healthcare landscape.

AI tool promotes positive peer groups to tackle substance abuse
When it comes to fighting substance abuse, research suggests the company you keep can make the difference between recovery and relapse.

Investigators highlight potential of exercise in addressing substance abuse in teens
Exercise has numerous, well-documented health benefits. Could it also play a role in preventing and reducing substance misuse and abuse in adolescents?

Read More: Substance Abuse News and Substance Abuse Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.