Gambling harm twice that of drugs - study

  • 07/07/2017

The harm associated with gambling is almost double that of drug use disorders, new research has found.

AUT Professor Max Abbott's research also found the quality of life for a low-risk gambler can drop by 20 percent.

He says the study is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and the findings came as a big shock.

"[It] enables us to make comparisons with other health conditions and the results are actually staggering.

"This is a challenge, and I think it's a credit to the New Zealand Government actually that there is recognition of the harm and measures to address it."

Prof Abbott says although governments make revenue from gambling, New Zealand's measures to prevent harm are helping.

The study found six main areas of gambling harm, including:

  • decreased health
  • emotional or psychological distress
  • financial harm
  • reduced performance at work or education
  • relationship disruption
  • conflict or breakdown
  • criminal activity.

"It's important to note that not all harms are equal," Prof Abbott said.

"Problem gamblers can experience debilitating consequences on their quality of life, whereas people at low-risk levels might experience manageable but persistent effects that can get in the way of enjoying life.

"While serious problem gamblers and people close to them experience the greatest harm, the study shows that many other people are harmed by gambling. In fact, low-risk gamblers are associated with the greatest proportion of New Zealand's gambling-related harm."