A report by researchers at the University of Iowa details the impact problem gambling has on families. Martha Shaw is one of the researchers that reviewed multiple studies on problem gambling. Shaw says they found that problem gambling runs in families, and that the families tend to be "more chaotic", larger, and tend to have more depression, anxiety, substance abuse and physical abuse.
While the problem gambling appears to run in families, Shaw says they aren’t sure if it’s genetic or learned. She says the study they’re doing right now is collecting D-N-A samples to look at that. Shaw the believes it’s a combination of genetics and learned behavior, but nobody knows for sure, and this is the first study to collect the D-N-A to look at it.
Shaw says it’s hard to tell if the problem gambling directly leads to other problems — but studies show clear connections with gambling and other family problems. Shaw says partner abuse was 10 times more likely when the partner was a pathological gambler, and the abuse was 50 times worse when the partner also abused alcohol. She says the problems get combined and then continued to escalate.
Shaw says they hope the report sheds light on the widespread negative family impact caused by problem gambling. Shaw says their goal is to make physicians and those who provide treatment that families may need treatment along with the gambler. Shaw says research on the impact of problem gambling on families is just getting started.
Shaw says there is more talk and research about it, but she says they’re just starting to find out about the problems. Shaw says they want to continue researching the best ways to treat families affected by problem gambling.