|According to Ashley Rowland, staff writer for the Gainesville Sun, a statewide survey on gambling, done by University of Florida researchers, has found that addiction to gambling and other gambling-related problems hits Floridians at more than twice the rate that it hits people in the rest of the USA. Some 200,000 to half a million Floridians have suffered serious difficulties related to gambling. |
The good news is that most residents in Florida who gamble can gamble without becoming addicted to gambling. But over 5% are rated as high risk gamblers, said Nathan Shapira, University of Florida Assistant Professor of Psychiatry. Professor Shapira, who also works at the Evelyn F. & William L. McKnight Brain Institute at the university, said: 'Our research indicates that we have a serious problem in Florida, and without some type of intervention or an increase in awareness about our at-risk gamblers . . . we will likely face a future epidemic of problem gambling in Florida.'
Shapira indicated that finding the answer as to why Floridians are more at risk will take more research, as will determining how and why individuals become addicted. The University of Florida researchers will also soon study potential treatments for problem gambling. Dr. Mark Gold, Chief of the Division of Addictive Medicine at the McKnight Brain Institute and co-author of the report, said: 'Compulsive gambling is a problem that is generally not recognized until the compulsive gambler has suffered such great losses that treatment becomes difficult, if not impossible ... There's a desperation at the end that often leads to suicide and other consequences that come about because no one recognizes the progression of the disease.'