There Is a Connection between Problem Gambling and Other Addictions, NIMHANS Researchers Say

A recent study held by researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has found that addictive gambling, as well as other behavioural addictions, has been a condition relating to the common health of urban India’s population.

The findings of the survey have been published in the Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry’s recent issue. A total of 3,250 individuals took part in the research, with 1.2% of them facing excessive gambling along with an addiction to television, mobile phones or even eating.

The head of the Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic at the Institute, Manoj Kumar Sharma, who is also the lead author of the above-mentioned study, has revealed that unfortunately, there is lack of solid evidence that there is a relationship between compulsive gambling and other forms of addiction. As he explained, the research is the first of its kind for a community-based setting from India.

Dr. Sharma further noted that researchers found 1.2% prevalence of probable gambling addiction in the 18-50 age group. An interesting fact is that no women in the sample reported problem gambling.

Gambling Addiction Often Remains Under-Reported

The head of the study explained that significantly higher rates of mobile phone use, television, and eating addiction were registered among survey participants who were suffering from possible gambling addiction. Only a small proportion of these people, however, had been understanding the need to deal with the problem.

Apart from that, Dr. Sharma revealed that gambling addiction and other forms of addictions often share the same chronic and relapsing patterns. Compulsive gambling, on the other hand, has been finally been classified as an addiction and related disorder in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Despite that, the term problem gambling is still used to classify all forms of gambling which could bring negative consequences for the person gambling, his friends and family, and for the community as a whole. As researchers have noted, gambling addiction is associated not only with financial problems, but also with legal issues, employment difficulties, not to mention mood and anxiety disorders, and poor physical and mental health.

Furthermore, it is common for mood and anxiety issues to precede problems with excessive gambling. The latter could also appear as a mechanism for coping with stress and other physical and mental health issues.

Dr. Sharma shared that it is normal for people to be unsure whether to report personal activities such as excessive gambling, which is exactly why compulsive gambling issues often remain under-reported. The researcher, however, reminded that such individuals need to realize that they should try to take control over gambling, and if unsuccessful, they should not doubt to seek professional help to deal with the issues.