The Prevalence and Impact of Major Life Stressors among Pathological Gamblers

The International journal of the addictions 02/1987; 22(1):71-9. DOI: 10.3109/10826088709027414
Source: PubMed


Major traumatic events were discovered in the histories of 23% of pathological gamblers seeking hospital treatment. These high-trauma patients were compared with groups of gambler patients who had experienced insignificant, low, or moderate amounts of life trauma. High-trauma patients tended, as measured by standard psychometrics, to be more depressed, anxious, and avoidant in personality style; they were also more likely to be abusing alcohol or other drugs. In their discussion the authors focus on the concept of learned dysthymia, a chronic state of negative affect related to cumulative life trauma and seemingly instrumental in potentiating addictive euphoria.

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    • "Studies of problem gamblers in treatment have revealed high rates of both trauma from a distressing life event and psychological comorbidity (Petry and Steinburg 2005; Specker et al., 1996). For example, Taber et al., (1987) reported that 39% of participants admitted to an inpatient gambling treatment program had experienced moderate to severe trauma linked to a distressing life event, with those experiencing trauma also reporting higher rates of substance abuse, depression and anxiety than those not experiencing trauma. Clearly, the relationship between problem gambling, co-morbidities and significant life events is complex, with causal directions likely to depend on the nature and severity of the co-morbid condition(s), event(s) and gambling problem, and other individual differences such as social influences and coping ability. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study aimed to explore how gambling involvement and gambling-related problems may be affected by significant life events, psychological co-morbidities and related social factors. Twenty recreational gamblers and 20 people experiencing gambling problems were interviewed, with reflective first-person accounts being analysed to develop a grounded theory. While both groups had experienced various significant life events and psychological co-morbidity, they coped with such events in different ways. The problem gambling group was found to increase their gambling involvement, unlike the recreational gambling group. In contrast to the problem gambling group, most recreational gamblers had strong social support networks and a resilience that helped them cope with significant life events and co-morbidities. A major finding of this study is the importance of resilience and social support when coping with adversity as protective factors against gambling problems. A grounded theory framework is presented as a basis for further research in this area.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
    • "One view is that boredom motivates individuals to engage in gambling activities as a way of increasing arousal (Anderson and Brown 1984;Brown 1986;Mercer and Eastwood 2010;Zuckerman 1983). Conversely, the other view is problem gamblers gamble as a means of relieving or avoiding unpleasant emotional states like boredom, depression or loneliness (Blaszczynski et al. 1986;Jacobs 1986;Lesieur and Blume 1987;Taber et al. 1987). A recent study byMercer and Eastwood (2010)in a sample of 202 undergraduate students in Canada (using measures of gambling, boredom, and sensitivity to punishment and reward) found that rather than trying to avoid the negative affect associated with boredom, individuals gamble in order to increase arousal. "
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    ABSTRACT: Gambling has typically been considered a predominately male activity. However, recent prevalence surveys have shown greater numbers of females are now gambling. Much of the gambling literature suggests online gamblers are more likely to be male, and that problem gamblers are more likely to be male. Males and females are also likely to be gambling for different reasons and have a preference for different gambling activities. Little is known about the pattern of play among female online gamblers. The aim of this survey was to develop a better profile of female online gamblers and to examine any gender differences between males and females in terms of how and why they gamble online, their frequency of online gambling, patterns of play, as well as attitudes to online gambling. The survey was posted on 32 international online gambling websites and was completed by 975 online gamblers (including 175 female online gamblers). Chi-square tests of association were conducted to examine the association between gender and a range of variables. The results showed that females had been gambling online for a shorter duration of time than males, had much shorter online gambling sessions, different motivations for gambling online (i.e., to practice for free, to spend less money and out of boredom), and experienced online gambling differently to males, with increased feelings of guilt and shame for gambling online. This suggests there is still a stigma around gambling particularly evident among females in this study. The findings indicate that clinicians and treatment providers need to be aware of these potential gender differences in online gambling to develop appropriately tailored interventions.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2012 · Journal of Gambling Behavior
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    • "Overall, there is greater pathology and worse functioning among those with the comorbidity, compared to those with just one of these problem areas. This includes increased depressive, anxiety, and substance abuse symptoms, and a more avoidant personality style (Taber et al. 1987); earlier age of gambling onset and more severe gambling problems (Petry and Steinberg 2005); greater lifetime gambling severity, psychiatric symptom severity, impulsivity, and dissociation (Ledgerwood and Petry 2006a); greater frequency of suicide attempts and drug and alcohol dependence, and more severe psychiatric distress (Kausch et al. 2006); and ''an entrenched gambling culture'' and selfreported desire to escape problems (Biddle et al. 2005). Of particular salience from a public health perspective is that PTSD is known to be understudied, underdiagnosed, and undertreated relative to the more commonly diagnosed mood, anxiety and addictive disorders that so commonly co-occur with it and/or are misdiagnosed instead of it (Davidson 2001; Dansky et al. 1997). "
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    ABSTRACT: This report is the first empirical study to compare pathological gambling (PG), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and their co-occurrence. The sample was 106 adults recruited from the community (35 with current PG; 36 with current PTSD, and 35 with BOTH). Using a cross-sectional design, the three groups were rigorously diagnosed and compared on various measures including sociodemographics, psychopathology (e.g., dissociation, suicidality, comorbid Axis I and II disorders), functioning, cognition, life history, and severity of gambling and PTSD. Overall, the PG group reported better psychological health and higher functioning than PTSD or BOTH; and there were virtually no differences between PTSD and BOTH. This suggests that it is the impact of PTSD, rather than comorbidity per se, that appears to drive a substantial increase in symptoms. We also found high rates of additional co-occurring disorders and suicidality in PTSD and BOTH, which warrants further clinical attention. Across the total sample, many reported a family history of substance use disorder (59%) and gambling problems (34%), highlighting the intergenerational impact of these. We also found notable subthreshold PTSD and gambling symptoms even among those not diagnosed with the disorders, suggesting a need for preventive care. Dissociation measures had mixed results. Discussion includes methodology considerations and future research areas.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2010 · Journal of Gambling Behavior
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