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New Zealand study suggests problem gamblers likelier to withdraw from communities

A study by the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) suggests people with gambling addiction problems are more likely to self-isolate, withdrawing from social groups.

AUT

The study was led by Gambling and Addictions Research Centre associate professor Maria Bellringer and funded by the Ministry of Health, reported RNZ.

"If somebody is an active member of community groups and they pull away for no apparent reason, this could be an indicator that this person is experiencing gambling problems hidden from other people," said Bellringer.

The study also suggests Māori and Pasifika populations in New Zealand are at higher risk of suffering harm from gambling.

The study highlights associations between problem gamblers and poor health. "They were more likely to be continuous smokers, they were likely to continue a poor quality of life so they started with a poor quality of life and it stayed poor,” explained Bellringer.

Problem gamblers are more likely to experience more stressful events, such as losing a job or deteriorating health. However, it goes both ways, as the health of those who transition from problem gambling will improve.

Bellringer added: "They were also likely to transition out of drinking alcohol in a hazardous manner, or excessively, and subsequently were more likely to increase their quality of life."

Based on data from The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), in New Zealand, problem gamblers make up about 0.3% of the population, with moderate-risk gamblers at 1%, and it is estimated that approximately 1 in 40 New Zealanders are negatively affected by other people’s gambling.

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