Vulnerability and Gambling Addiction: Psychosocial Benchmarks and Avenues for Intervention

Author: Suissa, Amnon

Source: International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, Volume 9, Number 1, February 2011 , pp. 12-23(12)

Publisher: Springer

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Abstract:

Defined by researchers as “a silent epidemic” the gambling phenomenon is a social problem that has a negative impact on individuals, families and communities. Among these effects, there is exasperating evidence of comprised community networks, a deterioration of family and social ties, psychiatric co-morbidity, suicides and more recently, homelessness. In this context, individual, structural and social vulnerabilities become important markers in understanding the dynamics involved. From a social critical perspective of the literature review, we will highlight some of the major psychosocial stakes underlining the social construction of gambling as pathology. Following a brief definition of the concept of vulnerability, the focus of this paper will be placed on the following issues: 1- the discourse on individual pathology as a marker for vulnerability, 2- the social and ethical contradictions of governments when managing gambling, 3- the heated debate about youth gambling, suicide and Internet gambling, 4- a cultural vulnerability among Asian communities as a demonstration that addiction is a multi factorial phenomenon versus the disease model. Finally, we propose markers for empowerment that can contribute to transferring some power to individuals and their social networks and advance the debate on the complex issues that gambling represents in our society.

Keywords: Culture; Gambling; Vulnerability; Youth

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11469-009-9248-7

Affiliations: School of Social Work, University of Quebec in Montréal, Montréal, QC, Canada, Email: Suissa.amnon@uqam.ca

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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