Problem gambling emerges as a serious and ever growing problem of modern societies, largely affecting adolescents as well. The etiology of gambling disorder is complex and multifaceted as it is governed by multiple and interrelated factors. In this context and in light of the pervasive financial crisis in Greece, we conducted a study in order to explore adolescents’ gambling involvement in Athens region and also to identify the socio-economic characteristics of adolescents who have engaged into gambling activities. Students were recruited from a sample of schools in Athens area. For the assessment of gambling involvement in adolescents, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV Multiple Response Adapted for Juveniles Questionnaire (DSM-IV-MR-J) was administered. Additional self-constructed questions enquired about students’ socio-demographic and economic characteristics. Our results indicate that adolescents that had problem with gambling or had at least one pathological item on DSM were more likely to be boys and to have been born in a country other than Greece. Additionally, the proportion of those having at least one pathological item on DSM was greater in those with low school grades. Τhe lack of food in the household due to inability of providing food during the last month was significantly associated with both having problem with gambling and having at least one pathological item on DSM. Furthermore, having been worried that there would not be enough food during the last month and having been fed with a restrained variety of food due to lack of recourses were associated with at least one pathological item on DSM. These findings are congruent with the literature suggesting that youth living under poverty often resort to gambling. In conclusion, our results point out the adverse effects of the financial crisis on the development of problem gambling in adolescents within the Greek society. Problem gambling may have developed in response to the ubiquitous insecurity characterizing the Greek society during this rough time period. Interventions should prioritize endowing adolescents with the necessary coping skills for dealing with daily obstacles or life adversities productively and without losing their self-control.
KEYWORDS: problem gambling, financial crisis, poverty, adolescents
Αssimina P. Paleologou, Helen Lazaratou, Dimitris K. Anagnostopoulos, Afroditi Trimpouki, Marina Economou, Melpomeni Malliori, Charalampos Papageorgiou