Problem gambling behavior exists in 6-20% of the adolescent population. In fact adolescents are 2 to 4 times more likely than adults to have this problem. Because social gambling quickly moves to problem gambling, and wagering is thought of as an adult privilege, adolescents are more susceptible to developing this behavior. Approximately 2 out of 3 adolescents gamble.
There are two types of women gamblers–those seeking escape and those seeking excitement. Those seeking escape are able to enter a “dissociative state” when gambling, and therefore temporarily avoid unpleasant circumstances or even become a different person. There is a high incidence of depression among women who gamble compulsively, and distress over relationships seems to be an equally common factor.
Problem gamblers have 2 to 3 times higher incident rate of substance misuse than other women, and may substitute one problem for another.* (* “Women and Problem Gambling.” The Women’s Addiction Foundation)
Many adults begin gambling more frequently later in life. It is important to know the difference between social and problem gambling. It becomes a problem when it has a negative effect on ones life and the lives of people close to them. Not all gambling is problem gambling.
It may be merely an occasional social activity. However, this may lead to problem gambling. Gambling may also be used as a coping mechanism. Older adults are often widowed and frequently suffer losses of lifelong friends; may be geographically separated from loved one’s; or may be simply bored or unhappy with retirement.
Many older adults are unaware of the problems excessive gambling may cause and the potential for addiction.