Study finds correlation between gambling, mobile use, and TV addiction

‘The findings will help in treatment of such behavioural conditions’

Gambling has been portrayed in many folk tales and epics in India as an obsession with costly consequences. Now, a recent study by researchers from NIMHANS has assessed pathological gambling (addictive gambling) and other behavioural addictions as a co-morbid condition in urban India.

Of the 3,250 individuals surveyed, 1.2% reported pathological gambling along with eating, mobile phone and television addiction. The findings have been published in the recent issue of the Indian Journal of Social Psychiatry.

Manoj Kumar Sharma, professor of clinical psychology at NIMHANS who heads SHUT (Service for Healthy Use of Technology) clinic at the institute and is the lead author of the study, told The Hindu that despite the understanding of some conditions that are co-morbid with pathological gambling, there is a dearth of empirical evidence on the matter.

Other addictions

“Hence, this study assessed the presence of other co-morbid behavioural addictions among individuals with pathological gambling. The findings of the study will enrich our understanding of co-morbidities to gambling as well as its management to improve the treatment outcome,” Dr. Sharma said.

“This study is the first of its kind documenting the trend in the presence of behavioural addictions as co-morbid conditions to pathological gambling in a community-based setting from India using a door-to-door survey methodology. The prevalence of probable pathological gambling was 1.2% in the age group of 18–50 years, but no women in the sample reported pathological gambling,” he said.

Psychological rewards

Quoting the study, Dr. Sharma said participants with probable pathological gambling reported significantly higher rates of eating, television, and mobile phone use addiction. “Probably, the psychological reward from one kind of addiction motivated them to indulge in other kind of addictions. Only a minor proportion of those identified as having gambling problems reported the need to overcome this issue,” he said.

The present findings of identification of behavioural addictions (eating, mobile addiction, and television) in the context of pathological gambling have treatment implications. Treatment of either behavioural addiction or pathological gambling could be compromised by the presence of other untreated conditions. These findings suggested the need to develop treatment for the management of co-morbid behavioural addictions and pathological gambling, the study stated.

Similar characteristics

Dr. Sharma explained that a range of behaviours, besides alcohol and drug use, also share similar addiction characteristics and therefore require consideration as behavioural addictions.

“These include behaviours such as gambling, Internet use, pornography, gaming, exercise, eating, and shopping. Addiction, substance use, or otherwise often has an onset in adolescence or young adulthood, with higher prevalence rates observed among this age group. They also share natural histories, with chronic and relapsing patterns, but also at times recover without any formal treatment,” he said.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM5) has reclassified pathological gambling as an addiction and related disorder along with alcohol and substance use disorders and renamed it as gambling disorder.

‘Problem gambling’

However, the term ‘problem gambling’ is still employed to describe all forms of gambling, which leads to adverse consequences for the gambler, others, or the community. Problem gambling is associated with impaired mental and physical health, relationship and family dysfunction, financial problems, employment difficulties, legal issues and higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders. Mood and anxiety disorders often precede gambling problems, which may manifest as a maladaptive coping mechanism.

“Usually people are shy or hesitant to report a personal activity such as gambling. That is why it is under-reported. However, like any other kind of addiction if they have no control over gambling, it is advisable they seek help from family or friends or medical professionals,” Dr. Sharma added.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:06:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/study-finds-correlation-between-gambling-mobile-use-and-tv-addiction/article27142630.ece

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