Problem gambling: A suitable case for social work?


Problem gambling attracts little attention from health and social care agencies in the UK. Prevalence surveys suggest that 0.6% of the population are problem gamblers and it is suggested that for each of these individuals, 10-17 other people, including children and other family members, are affected. Problem gambling is linked to many individual and social problems including: depression, suicide, significant debt, bankruptcy, family conflict, domestic violence, neglect and maltreatment of children and offending. This makes the issue central to social work territory. Yet, the training of social workers in the UK has consistently neglected issues of addictive behaviour. Whilst some attention has been paid in recent years to substance abuse issues, there has remained a silence in relation to gambling problems. Social workers provide more help for problems relating to addictions than other helping professions. There is good evidence that treatment, and early intervention for gambling problems, including psycho-social and public health approaches, can be very effective. This paper argues that problem gambling should be moved onto the radar of the social work profession, via inclusion on qualifying and post-qualifying training programmes and via research and dissemination of good practice via institutions such as the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

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