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Gambling Addiction a Psychiatric Disorder

Group says 3 million American adults bet compulsively

FRIDAY, March 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The number of Americans afflicted with an out-of-control gambling habit is increasing, and the problem is now recognized as a psychiatric disorder.

The National Council on Problem Gambling says that nearly 3 million American adults are compulsive gamblers.

These people constantly think about their past bets, plan their future bets, and devise ways to find money to support their addiction, says an article in the March issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

While most compulsive gamblers are men, the problem is also growing among women. Blacks have a higher rate of compulsive gambling than whites. The rate of compulsive gambling is about twice the average among people who live within 50 miles of a casino.

Gambling addiction usually follows the typical pattern of addiction. It's usually accompanied by depression or alcohol addiction.

Treatment for gambling addiction is similar to treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, the Harvard Mental Health Letter says.

Treatments include 12-step groups, cognitive-behavioral therapies, psychodynamic therapy, and motivational interviewing. Most studies have focused on cognitive and behavioral therapies and they seem to be the most effective, at least in the short term.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about compulsive gambling.

SOURCE: Harvard Mental Health Letter, news release, March 2004
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