October, 2018, has once again been recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This month, it is important to be aware that family violence associated with gambling is on the rise in the United States. Although the exact nature of the relationship between problem gambling and violence within the family is not clearly understood, the recent explosion of legalized gambling in the United States has mental health experts concerned for many reasons, one notably being the increased risk of physical violence toward loved ones.
For most, gambling can be fun and safe, an occasional entertainment option. But for some, gambling can get out of control and become problematic. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, approximately 1 percent of adults in the United States (3 million) are diagnosed with a gambling disorder while another 2 percent to 3 percent have less significant degrees of problem gambling.
Problem gambling is an addictive disorder characterized by thoughts and behaviors that are increasingly organized around gambling. Problem gamblers may frequently become restless, irritable and violent when they cannot gamble, when they are confronted by loved ones about their gambling behavior, or when they attempt to quit and are unsuccessful.
Research suggests that gambling related violence does occur, and often manifests in domestic violence incidents, as gamblers may take out their anger over gambling losses on their partners. There is also limited, but growing, international evidence that problem gambling is consistently associated with intimate partner violence (IPV), as well as violence that extends beyond intimate partners into the broader family (Dowling, Suomi, et al., 2016).
Research has shown that among pathological gamblers:
-Nearly 25% reported engaging in spousal abuse
-Over 15% reported engaging in child abuse
-Children of problem gamblers are 2 to 3 times more likely to be abused by a parent than their peers
-Wives or intimate partners of problem gamblers are 10.5 times more likely to visit an emergency room as a result of being physically assaulted, in comparison to wives or intimate partners of problem drinkers who are six times more likely to come to an emergency room as a result of physical abuse
-The wives or intimate partners of a man who is both a problem gambler and a problem drinker are 50 times more likely to visit an emergency room as a result of being physically abused
It is never too late to take control of your life. Start your journey on the road to recovery from problem gambling today!
If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, you are not alone. Call 1-800-GAMBLER, 24/7 and confidential
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