A University of Iowa study finds that problem gambling runs in families. Lead investigator Doctor Donald Black, a professor of psychiatry, says the study’s the first of its kind fo include detailed family interviews.
Black says it not only confirms problem gambling runs in families, but they also found in the same families more substance abuse and anti-social behavior compared to control subjects and their relatives. Black says the study doesn’t mean they have answers for those people who, along with their relatives, have trouble resisting the allure of gambling.
He says there are no standard or proven treatments for pathological gambling. “This is one of the ‘dirty little secrets’ in this area — we have ideas about what to do in terms of treating them with different types of therapy, but the fact of the matter is most people drop out of treatment.” He says there may be some effective treatment but it’s hard to tell when people quit.
Black says he believes that helping patients understand that gambling runs in families may help them break the cycle — but he says there is no cure. The two-year study, which included interviews with 31 pathological gamblers and their relatives, was funded through a grant from the national Center for Responsible gaming.