Tackling gambling addiction requires policy, not prohibition: Addiction expert

published on February 12, 2016 in CBC News

Dr. Evan Wood said he knows many like former CFL player Angus Reid who have hit rock bottom through gambling

Gambling affects the brain in much the same way as drugs oralcohol, anda public health approach should used to regulatethe industry, saidan addiction and public health expert.

“The same reward circuitry that becomes dysfunctional when people become addicted to drugs like alcohol or cocaine is implicated in gambling as well,” saidëDr. Evan Wood, themedical director of addiction services at Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care.

“It’s oftentimes almost indistinguishable.”

Prohibition doesn’t work: Dr. Wood

Wood said a “public health approach” is important in order to balance the benefits that can be gained through taxes and revenues from the gambling industry while at the same time ensuring people don’t ruin their lives through problem gambling.

“It’s a very common saying in public health, that whatis prohibited cannot be regulated,” he said.

“The lessonfrom alcohol prohibition in terms of all the unintended consequences looms large in public health.

“[Gambling] is anactivity that goes back thousands of years. Ancient Greek society was gambling, and it’s something that’s part of the human condition in many ways, and when you make something illegal it can cause all sorts of harms in terms of organized crimesand underground betting.”

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