America's pathological gamblers run the gamut from professionals with lots
of education and money to the uneducated and unemployed. They include all
races. "So it can be pretty much anyone, Jon Grant, M.D., J.D., told
Grant is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University and
director of the impulse control disorders clinic at Butler Hospital in
Nonetheless, men seem to be somewhat more predisposed to problem gambling
than women, he said, since about 60 percent of pathological gamblers are
Also, Native Americans may be especially vulnerable, Suck Won Kim, M.D., a
professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and a
pathological-gambling authority, said in an interview.
Regardless of the gender or ethnicity of problem gamblers, however, the
consequences can be devastating—lying to employers, friends, and family;
engaging in illegal activities to cover one's gambling debts; losing all of
one's assets; even relinquishing one's most cherished possessions to obtain
"I knew one problem gambler, an 80-year-old widow," Grant said,"
who pawned her wedding ring to get money to gamble."
But even with the ravages that pathological gambling can inflict, there are
treatment success stories. Take the case of a 72-year-old problem gambler,"
Ed." He lied to his children about his gambling problem. He lost
his home and savings because of it. Then he developed a severe depression and
wanted to take his own life. Grant eventually began treatment, which involved
taking an SSRI antidepressant and participating in weekly cognitive-behavioral
therapy. His mood improved, he lost his urge to gamble, and he started family
therapy to rebuild relationships with his children. He also obtained
financial-planning help so that he could cope with his troubled monetary