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Gambling and Amger Management Article in NCPG newsletter

Posted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:26 am
by cbukovitz
Gambling and Anger Management

Comorbidity of substance abuse, primarily alcohol, has long been associated with problem gambling. Recent studies have surfaced that shows a relationship between anger and emotion regulation in the development of gambling problems.

Non-problem gamblers reported not using gambling as a strategy in order to deal with negative emotions whereas problem gamblers tend to use gambling as their primary emotion regulation strategy. Female gamblers reported the use of gambling to regulate emotions more than male gamblers.

Individuals who are emotionally vulnerable and who have poor coping skills, and/or negative family, developmental, and life experiences develop gambling problems as a means of adapting to or adjusting to negative affective states. These negative emotions and environmental pressures intensify impulsivity contributing to gambling behaviors.

Understanding emotion regulation is important in understanding the link between problem gambling and anger. Beaudoin and Cox (1999)in their study found a connection to the role of emotion and gambling with more than 80% of problem gamblers who reported gambling in order to relieve or escape from life stressors. When unable to implement effective coping skills, anger problems ensue.

In a study conducted by Korman et al., (2008) two-thirds of problem gamblers surveyed had comorbid anger problems. A risk factor for relapse has been identified as anger management. An effective intervention treatment strategy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that help participants identify and correct distorted cognitions.

With angry and emotionally dysregulated clients, the lack of effective strategies to regulate their anger and emotions may not only limit their ability to process new information, they may use gambling as a coping strategy to life and environment stressors. As counselors, we should be aware of the connection between problem gambling, anger, and emotional dysregulation and implement anger management strategies into our treatment interventions to reduce the possibility of relapse.

Catherine Bukovitz
FCCG Community Educator