Since the 1600s gambling has become a major recreational activity in the United States with globally recognized hubs in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Because of its addictive nature, however, problems such as pathological gambling and gambling debt have become rampant.
In the past, only a few states had a form of legalized gambling, the most famous of which was Nevada. However, the past decade has seen an exponential rise in the number of states where legal gambling opportunities can be found. Now, all but two American states have some form of legal gambling activity, and the top two most common of these activities are lotteries and casinos.
Studies have shown that gambling, when done sparingly and with full-knowledge of the experience, can be a good way not only of entertaining one’s self, but of stress relief – this phenomenon is called gambling. However, when a person takes part in it too often, then gambling becomes destructive.
Additionally, comorbidity is the tendency of a disease or disorder to co-occur simultaneously with an already present problem. Usually, the second problem comes in the form of substance use, mood, anxiety, or personality disorders. During a longitudinal study of gamblers across the United States, it was seen that among 43,000 respondents, 73.2% had alcohol dependence, 60.4% had nicotine dependence, and almost half of them had a mood disorder.
Respondents who answered that they were also experiencing other problems said that gambling has become a very big part of their everyday lives. They reported that thoughts of gambling have caused them to lose sleep, that they have often gambled until their last dollar was gone, and that they have allowed themselves to use their income or savings to gamble even while letting their bills go unpaid. Some of them also said that they have made repeated attempts to stop gambling, but efforts to do so have been futile, and thus they have felt depressed or have suicidal thoughts.
Moreover, many of those who also reported dependence on various substances due to their chronic inability to stop gambling said that their health deteriorated because of their tendency to spend more time and money on gambling than living a healthy lifestyle. Their core life aspects such as their careers and their families were likewise seriously disrupted, as evidenced by other research that found that excessive gambling contributes to a higher rate of separation and divorce among couples, and is associated with child abuse and neglect.
While occasional gambling may be an acceptable pastime, pathological gambling should be cause for alarm. Because of its tendency to be comorbid with other psychological and physical disorders such as alcoholism, it is not merely an issue that one individual should address; rather, it should be a matter of concern for the whole community.
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