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University Finds Link Between Childhood Trauma and Problem Gambling

by Glenn Baird - August 5, 2017

A study carried out at The University of Lincoln in the UK gathered evidence that suggests males who have experienced trauma at young age are more like to develop gambling addiction later in life.

The findings imply that young boys witnessing or being subjected to violence in the home are more likely to find themselves with extreme gambling problems.

The study went on to suggest that males who develop a gambling addiction are also more likely to suffer physical injuries and will struggle to maintain relationships.

Forensic psychologist at the University of Lincoln, Amanda Roberts, said:

“This suggests that disordered gambling does not occur on its own, but that it is perhaps symptomatic of other social, behavioural and psychological problems of some individuals,”

“We have found that among men, disordered gambling remains uniquely associated with trauma and life stressors in childhood and adulthood after adjusting for alcohol and drug dependence.”

The survey involved over 3000 men, asking questions about lifestyle choices. The study concluded, that just over one quarter of those who witnessed violent behaviour as children had developed a “pathological gambling problem.”
It was also revealed that of those questioned 20 per cent of men deemed to have a pathological gambling problem had suffered a relationship breakdown, just under 30 per cent had been found guilty of criminal activity and 35 per cent had serious issues with money. The results from men without a pathological gambling problem were significantly lower in each case.

Dr. Roberts goes describe the distinction between impact of violent trauma suffered by young males and stressful events that some adults go through:

“General experiences of stressful life events, such as job loss or homelessness in adulthood are not usually characterized by the same extreme psychological responses; this distinction is important, since associations with traumatic events might indicate increased vulnerability to developing gambling problems, while associations with other types of stressful life event, such as job loss, might indicate consequential harms associated with gambling.”

Dr Roberts’ study appears to go some way towards answering the question about whether nurture or nature is responsible for determining problem gambling. However, it could still be argued that problem gambling is a direct result of poor impulse control, something that has also been linked to childhood trauma. In turn this would impact heavily on many other parts of our lives, including maintaining relationships, criminal activity and managing money.