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Clinical and Research News
Gamblers Differ, But Pay Similar Price
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 6 page 29-29

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 Psychiatric News.

Grant is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown University and director of the impulse control disorders clinic at Butler Hospital in Providence, R.I.

Nonetheless, men seem to be somewhat more predisposed to problem gambling than women, he said, since about 60 percent of pathological gamblers are men.

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 gambling money.

"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 situation.

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