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Gambling and alcoholism share addiction link

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Alcoholism and gambling may be more closely related than previously thought, a new report says.

Researchers from Alcohol Concern Cymru and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) say that treating both problems at the same time could help treatment outcomes--and that having one addiction might indicate the presence of the other.

A Losing Bet

The report, based on a public survey and titled "A Losing Bet," asserts that the similarities between gambling and alcohol addiction are clearly identifiable, and women are being targeted by both the gambling and alcohol industries now more than ever in marketing campaigns.

"Both alcohol misuse and excessive gambling can be regarded as significant public health problems, with adverse consequences to individuals and the wider society," said Mark Leyshon, policy officer for Alcohol Concern Cymru.

Leyshon also notes that gambling research is not as current and readily available as studies on alcoholism, but that about one in six people who seek help for alcohol abuse also have gambling problems.

Services and prevention

The report argues that addiction treatment centers should provide gambling help, with 94 percent of respondents saying it's necessary.

"Research evidence has also shown how those people with gambling addiction have a much higher activation of the reward areas in the brain than those without, and these are similar to the areas of the brain that are involved in alcohol use disorders," said Dr Raman Sahkuja, chair of the RCPsych in Wales' Faculty of Addictions.

Solutions for gambling may lie in emulating restrictions and laws used in the alcohol industry, like restricting availability of casinos, protecting younger patrons and changing rules about marketing and advertising

Sahkuja also notes the importance for publicly available, cost-effective treatment.

"It is vital that access to appropriate advice and treatment is available and well-funded, especially when considering that often people with alcohol problems participate in unhealthy gambling, and vice versa," Sahkuja said.

Source: BBC