Up to 8 Million Americans Have Gambling Problem

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With March Madness set to begin and virtually everyone filling out their bracket, there is a sobering new study about gambling in United States -- up to eight million Americans have a gambling problem.

According to a report in Science Daily, the National Council on Problem Gambling found that two million people meet the criteria for pathological gambling, while another four to six million are considered problem gamblers.

The study by researchers at Wayne State University found that treatment is easier said than done. That's because it is difficult to predict which style of treatment is best for the various forms of gambling addiction.

Science Daily writes

According to David M. Ledgerwood, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Wayne State University, there may be up to three different subtypes of people with serious gambling problems. One group, emotionally vulnerable (EV) gamblers, had higher psychiatric and gambling severity and were more likely to have a parent with psychiatric problems as compared to another subtype, behaviorally conditioned (BC) gamblers. BC gamblers are thought to start gambling because they get caught up in elements of reward associated with the game, rather than to soothe emotional problems.

"In addition, we found that antisocial impulsive (AI) gamblers also had elevated gambling and psychiatric severity when compared to BC gamblers," said Ledgerwood. "This group was most likely to have antisocial personality disorders, a history of substance abuse treatment, and a parent with substance abuse or gambling problems."

The study said recovery rates are similar among all of the different types of gamblers, so it is impossible to tell if one specific type of treatment is better than any of the others.

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