Like any other addiction, Gambling, has had a hand in ruining the lives of many people. In the past, every type of addiction was treated as a completely different animal than the next, but, science has given us the ability to see and the tools to understand the chemical complexities of the mind. We now have the ability to see that addiction is addiction is addiction! The idea that an alcoholic is somehow different than someone hooked on pain medicine is no longer valid in the medical community. Addiction is a disease that can be passed down genetically, predisposing individuals to become dependent on anything that is gratifying, to such an extreme, that their life and the lives of the people surrounding them are at risk. Genetics play a very important role in how people act, interact, and react to situations.
Gambling is harder to understand in comparison to alcohol consumption, both habit forming to the point of addiction; yet, with gambling there is no drug or drink consumed - a series of actions are performed which releases chemicals in the brain that provide a high. How could an action provide someone a high, so profound and powerful, that it would prompt someone to throw away everything they ever worked for just to achieve that high one more time? The answer is addiction, and addiction, sadly, is a handicap that millions of people are born with. Scientists in Australia have been researching the genetic factors behind addiction and recently published their findings in the June issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry after studying twins. Research has shown that genetic factors seem to have an effect on the development of gambling disorders in both men and women according to Dr Wendy S. Slutske, a professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and colleagues.
The results showed:
- Many of the individuals were frequent gamblers: nearly all had gambled at least once, about half had gambled at least once a month, and one third had gambled at least once a week.
- 2.2 per cent of the participants (3.4 per cent of the men and 1.2 per cent of the women) met criteria for pathological gambling.
- 12.5 per cent (18.2 per cent of the men and 8.3 per cent of the women) had experienced at least one symptom of pathological gambling.
- A link between genetic factors and gambling susceptibility: "the estimate of the proportion of variation in liability for disordered gambling (DG) due to genetic influences was 49.2 per cent", wrote the authors.
- No evidence that similar environments influenced susceptibility: "no evidence for shared environmental influences contributing to variation in DG liability".
- No evidence that the causes are different in men and women: "no evidence for quantitative or qualitative sex differences in the causes of variation in DG liability".
Gambling is an addiction just as powerful as any other. Drugs and alcohol do not kill addicts, addictive thinking and behavior is what is actually responsible; just as betting money is not harmful as long as you have the ability to stop when you want.