Throughout history, gambling addiction has resulted in the highest rate of suicides for any addiction and caused desperate people to resort to crime to pay their debts or continue gambling. And now, as gambling continues to expand throughout the country, the number of problem gamblers continues to increase.1
Gambling and Crime
In a 1995 survey of gambler’s anonymous (GA) members, 46% of respondents indicated that they had committed an illegal act. These crimes were frequently armed robbery, theft or fraud (such as writing bad checks),1 and other studies have shown that domestic violenc-,, abuse-, and neglect-related crime rates are also higher amongst problem gamblers.In fact, problem and pathological gamblers are between 3 and 3.5 times more likely to be arrested and/or spend time in jail!2
Gambling addiction is astronomically higher amongst inmates as well. One 2004 study estimated that problem gambling is 300% to 500% more prevalent amongst prisoners than in the general population.2 More recently, some deputies of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department – which operates the largest prison system in the country – gave unofficial estimates that 40% to 60% of inmates in low- and medium-security jails presented with signs of problem gambling – as much as 16 times the rate of the general population!
Gambling addicts are also 2 to 7 times more likely to take illegal drugs, binge drink and smoke. Many experts have also observed that they drive high, drunk, distracted or sleep deprived far more frequently than the general population.
Gambling and Suicide
Gambling addiction causes severe financial, emotional, social and sometimes physical problems for the gambler and their family. Coping with the negative consequences of gambling addiction can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of shame, guilt and hopelessness.
The National Council on Problem Gambling has reported that about 20% of pathological gamblers attempt suicide – a higher percentage than any other addictive disorder.1 And the families of problem gamblers are also at a higher risk of suicide for many of the same reasons.3
The risk of suicide is highest for people with mental health problems, such as depression, or those who suffer from other addictions. Some studies have indicated that gambling severity is linked to suicide risk – meaning that the worse the addiction, the more likely it is that the gambler will attempt suicide.1
If you are considering suicide, get help right away by calling 1-800-GAMBLER. Help is always available.