Comorbidity and Problem Gambling

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Comorbidity and Problem Gambling

Comorbidity and Problem Gambling

April 28, 2017

Problem gambling is a diagnosable and treatable disorder that appears in the DSM-5, which is a publication that mental health clinicians use for identifying presenting mental health issues. People that are diagnosed as having a gambling disorder often do not just suffer from a gambling addiction.

According to the Nation Institute on Drug Abuse, when two disorders or illnesses occur in the same person, simultaneously or sequentially, they are described as comorbid. Comorbidity also implies interactions between the illnesses that affect the course and prognosis of both.

People who suffer from problem gambling often also suffer from anxiety, depression, and/or other addictions and compulsions. Here are some key facts from the National Center for Responsible Gaming concerning comorbidity:

Comorbidity is the term used to describe the existence of concurrent disorders in an individual. It also refers to the ways in which these disorders interact or interfere with each other.

  • As with all addictive behaviors, people who struggle with gambling disorders tend to have other psychological problems such as depression, anxiety and substance-use disorders.
  • According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, 96.3 percent of the lifetime pathological gamblers also met lifetime criteria for one or more of the other psychiatric disorders assessed in the survey.
  • A 2008 study by Harvard Medical School’s Department of Health Care Policy analyzed the gambling data in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). They discovered that survey participants with any other psychiatric disorder are 17.4 times more likely to develop pathological gambling than those without such problems.
  • The largest study that examined the comorbidity of pathological gambling surveyed more than 43,000 representative Americans and concluded that almost 75 percent of those diagnosed with a gambling disorder also had a co-occurring alcohol use disorder, while almost 40 percent had a co-occurring drug use disorder.
  • Studies have also found that people with gambling disorders had very high rates of personality disorders (more than 60 percent), mood disorders (almost 50 percent) and anxiety disorders (more than 40 percent).
  • Researchers have attempted to determine whether or not a gambling disorder precedes a co-occurring disorder, or vice versa. In 2008, researchers found that among those who were diagnosed with pathological gambling, 23.5 percent developed the gambling disorder before any other psychiatric problem. In contrast, 74.3 percent developed the gambling disorder after experiencing co-occurring disorders.

In truth, problem gambling is a complex disorder that can make treatment difficult. People who are negatively impacted often seek structured, professional help. While everyone’s treatment needs are different, one of best approaches to treating any addiction is a blend of support groups plus individual counseling. The FCCG operates a 24/7 helpline committed to furnishing help, hope, and support to those negatively impacted by problem gambling.