Exploring Gambling in the Contexts of Other Commercially Driven Harms

In this section we look at gambling harms in a landscape of other commercially based provision from fast food to alcohol. We wil identify similarities and differences between sectors and ask what we can learn from harm reduction in other sectors that may help us reduce gambling harms.

Why it is Important to Consider Gambling in Relation to other Industry Sector Harms

  1. There is a very high number of people who have difficulties arising from gambling who also suffer harms from alcohol or other hard drugs including tobacco.
  2. Distress caused by gambling and alcohol or other hard drugs often comes with psychological states such as depression or anxiety. This is known clinically as comorbidity.
  3. The difficulties arising from gambling and heavy drinking may be accompanied by debt, poor physical health, relationship and family breakdown, unemployment, loss of status, and other factors.
  4. The role of alcohol or other hard drugs in gambling behaviour is not frequently discussed or recognised.
  5. The devastating impacts of alcohol and other hard drugs on individual health and affected others and across society are played down or ignored. Ex-gamblers, for instance, while working hard to help others may continue to promote drinking as ‘fun’.
  6. Gambling and alcohol outlets cluster in the poorest and most deprived areas, along with other unhealthy commodities such as ‘junk food’. These should all be considered together when considering effects relating to inequality and social justice.
  7. We can learn a great deal from legislation, regulation, prevention, research and education relating to alcohol and tobacco.
  8. There is a case to be made for a complete rethinking of ‘addiction services’. These have seen savage reductions in financial resourcing and deprioritising since 2012. In demanding a complete overhaul we could sensibly look to include gambling in all ‘addiction services’ with a common, combined treatment approach.
  9. Education can adopt a whole curriculum, whole age approach to risky behaviours. Rather than a few sessions here and there about gambling followed separately without connection by sessions on alcohol and other hard drugs, a joined-up approach would appear to be  preferable.

Read a briefing document about why we need to integrate gambling, alcohol and drugs issues here.

We’ll add to this page discussion of each of the areas above. 

Damage from gambling, of course, arises for many people without other addiction related behaviours. Each person is unique. Some have only gambling presenting as an issue, others have to deal with childhood traumas, long term depression and anxiety. severe stresses arising from gross inequalities and injustices. In a genuinely ‘person centred’ approach, all support must take in the unique blend of complex factors. In this section we’ll consider the compounding effects of co-occurring alcohol and other hard drugs harms.

We’ll begin by examining what seems to ‘pass under the radar’: the alarming association between gambling and alcohol and other hard drugs. Heavy and dependent drinking, cocaine and ‘speed’ use are far from rare among gamblers

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