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Internet Gambling Ups Access for Those With Gambling Disorders

Last Updated: May 19, 2011.

The increased availability of gambling opportunities has drawn attention to gambling disorders, which affect 0.2 to 5.3 percent of adults worldwide, according to a review published online May 19 in The Lancet.

THURSDAY, May 19 (HealthDay News) -- The increased availability of gambling opportunities has drawn attention to gambling disorders, which affect 0.2 to 5.3 percent of adults worldwide, according to a review published online May 19 in The Lancet.

David C. Hodgins, Ph.D., from the University of Calgary in Canada, and colleagues reviewed literature available from 2002 to 2010 to identify the prevalence, causes, and associated features of gambling disorders. In addition, screening, diagnosis, and treatment approaches to these disorders were reviewed.

The investigators found that 0.2 to 5.3 percent of adults worldwide are affected by gambling disorders. The measurement and prevalence of gambling varies according to the accessibility of gambling opportunities and the screening instruments and methods used. Several distinct treatment approaches, including pharmacological interventions (naltrexone and nalmefene), cognitive behavioral, and brief treatment models, have shown favorable responses. Despite promising results from family therapy and support from Gamblers Anonymous these are less empirically supported. Gambling disorders and other mental health and substance use disorders often coexist, but whether concurrent treatment is beneficial or not has not been empirically studied.

"Most of our progress in recognizing and understanding gambling disorders has been made in the past 25 years. Our knowledge continues to evolve in parallel with a burgeoning availability of gambling opportunities. Internet gambling, for example, is providing around-the-clock home access to several types of gambling activities to an increasing number of people around the world," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial relationships with Forest Pharmaceuticals.

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