A new report by Alcohol Concern Cymru and the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales is now claiming that alcohol and gambling addiction issues can be dealt with alongside one another, and share greater similarities than has been previously realised by medical experts.
The report, “A Losing Bet?”, claims that there are significant parallels between the addiction patterns of gambling and alcohol as well as their perceptions in society, including the way in which rules governing these industries have become more relaxed in the last few years. In answer to this, the report urges government officials to take action to prevent these related problems from growing amongst the population.
As well as accusing marketers of targeting more females in their advertising campaigns for both alcohol and gambling pursuits, the report’s authors state that a snapshot survey they undertook revealed that one in six people who had sought help for alcohol addiction also admitted to having serious problems with gambling. 94% of all those surveyed thought that more addiction treatment services should be offering rehabilitation for gambling addiction.
The report states that health practitioners who come across individuals with addictive gambling problems “can learn lessons from approaches adopted in the alcohol field to limit alcohol misuse and protect communities from harm, including imposing tougher restrictions on marketing, and decreasing availability.”
Mark Leyshon, the policy officer for Alcohol Concern Cymru, said that both alcohol abuse and excessive gambling habits could and should be thought of as “significant public health problems” and that they both presented numerous risks and adverse consequences to both affected individuals and society at large.
“There has been a wealth of research in recent decades that provides evidence of potential solutions to reducing alcohol misuse.
“Gambling research is much further behind, possibly because the concept of gambling as an addiction is a relatively new one.
“It is likely, however, that mechanisms proposed in the alcohol field, such as restricting the availability of alcohol, tightening marketing rules, and providing tougher measures to protect the young, may be equally effective in curtailing problematic gambling.”
“Without the necessary restrictions, there is a real danger that this will be matched in future by more people suffering alcohol and gambling problems.”
Dr Raman Sahkuja, the chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales’ Faculty of Addictions, added that pathological or compulsive gambling “appears to share symptom similarities with addiction.”
“Research evidence has also shown how those people with gambling addiction have much higher activation of the reward areas in the brain than those without, and these are similar to the areas of the brain that are involved in alcohol use disorders.”
“It is vital that access to appropriate advice and treatment is available and well-funded, especially when considering that often people with alcohol problems participate in unhealthy gambling, and vice versa.”
It is not uncommon for many addictions to spawn additional problems in a person’s life as they start down a slippery slope of isolation and uncertainty, but with the right help and intervention techniques, it is possible to stop this downward slide and help your loved one take back control of their life.
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