June 29, 2010
Internet Dependence, Gambling Addiction Not Linked
Affected individuals have common psychological profiles
A study of university students found no overlap between those reporting excessive Internet use and those with problem gambling. However, both addictive behaviors are associated with psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness, according to a provocative Rapid Communication in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/cyberBoth Internet dependence and problem gambling are typically viewed as behavioral addictions, and as such might be expected to affect the same individuals. But as N.A. Dowling, PhD, from the University of Melbourne, and M. Brown from Monash University, both in Australia, conclude in the article entitled, "Commonalities in the Psychological Factors Associated with Problem Gambling and Internet Dependence," these seem to be separate disorders that share common underlying psychological profiles, which has implications for their management.
Based on their assessment of a small group of university students in Australia, the authors report that similar vulnerabilities, attributable to feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, loneliness, and social isolation, appear to contribute to excesses in Internet use and gambling behavior. Effective treatments would likely integrate multiple types of interventions that target the specific problem behavior and the general tendency to addiction.
"It is clear that effectively evaluating and treating these disorders requires a clear understanding of the individual symptomatology and internal conflicts particular to each patient," says Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA.