More Teens and Adolescents May Be Addicted to Gambling; May Not Be an “Uncommon” Problem
John Welte, a national expert on the science behind addictions to gambling, recently published study results in the Journal of Gambling Studies that indicate problem gambling may affect more teens than previously believed. The research, described in recent news from ScienceDaily, is also one of the first studies to compare participants' drinking rates to gambling patterns.
Using survey data to compare participants' alcohol rates and gambling rates, Welte and researchers studied teens and young adults aged 14 to 21, and another group who were 18 and older to see if patterns could be identified.
Results indicated that overall addictive gambling behaviors escalated rapidly while the participants were teens, usually peaked when they entered the decades of their 20s and 30s, then showed a drop off when the participants' passed the age of 70. For men, however, a peak in participating in gambling in any form - as well as developing habits of consistent gambling - was reached during the late teen years.
The problem of addictive or compulsive gambling is still believed by many experts to be rather uncommon, even though research like Welte's contradicts the notion that addictive gambling is a rare consequence. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders gives key criteria for defining a compulsive gambling problem, such as a gambling preoccupation, a need for spending increasingly larger levels of money to get the same effect, and putting school, relationships or a job aside for gambling, despite the consequences.
Because Welte's research suggests the foundations for compulsive gambling begin in the teen years and could also peak there for boys, more initiatives toward preventing the problem before it develops are called for. Further research to explore links between alcohol use and gambling problems is also recommended.