Gambling practices among youth: Etiology, prevention and treatment

Abstract

This chapter is designed to provide an overview of what is currently understood about thecorrelates, risk factors, and protective factors associated with youth gambling and problem gambling, as well as to touch upon prevention and treatment considerations. While the chapter does not elaborate upon how to treat youth with multiple addictions, it is clear that gamblers with concomitant substance abuse problems pose a greater challenge for treatment. Youth with clinical levels of depression, high levels of impulsivity and anxiety disorders are often referred to psychiatry to simultaneously engage in pharmacological treatment while undergoing therapy. The fact that the prevalence rate for youth with severe gambling problems remains higher than that for adults is of significant concern. Societal trends continue to indicate that gambling is becoming more mainstream, and youth are being influenced and exposed through traditional media such as television, mobile phones, and the Internet. The complete etiology of problem gambling among youth is unclear, but it is known that parenting style, acceptability, exposure, access to gambling venues, personality traits, impulsivity and emotional disposition all interact together to place certain individuals at increased risk at a very young age. It is important that youth adopt healthy attitudes toward gambling, such that they recognize it is not a way to make money, nor is it a healthy way to escape from life stressors. The implementation of prevention programs, as well as providing therapeutic support for those experiencing problems, remains essential. While somewhat similar in many ways to other adolescent high-risk behaviors, gambling problems among youth have gone relatively unnoticed. Often referred to as the hidden addiction, all individuals working with adolescents are well advised to understand and address this issue.

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